A 13-year-old student from Dawlish has stepped up to win two top dancing awards.

Niko Merelle, who attends Teignmouth Community College, entered the Street and House Dance Championships in Taunton this weekend together with his dance school called Groovement.

His crew, Vanguard, got first place in the teams’ section and Niko got first place in the solo section for Under 14s (out of 62 entrants).

Niko started dancing at the age of six after his mother asked him for help following a serious car accident which left her having to learn to walk again.

As walking itself was so painful and she had always loved dancing, she asked Niko if he would help her by holding her hands and doing simple dance steps so that her mind was on the music rather than the pain.

This was how his love of dance was born.

Niko started dancing regularly at home and then at dance venues in Finland which is where the family were living at the time.

When the family returned to England he started doing musical theatre in Exeter but in October 2022 he auditioned for Groovement dance crew and has been training with them ever since.

He trains on average four to five times a week which is a real commitment given that he has to travel from Dawlish to Plymouth each time!

His mum, Jody Merelle says: ‘Niko only started proper street dance training five months ago so to win a competition of this size is quite an achievement.

‘One of the judges commented afterwards that he had so much natural talent that he was “dangerous”’

Niko said: ‘I always love dancing and but I really didn’t expect to come first, especially as this was only my third competition! It was completely surreal.

‘This is the first time I have won as a soloist so I was over the moon.

‘I got some really useful feedback from the judges as well so I will use that to keep trying to improve.

‘Everyone at Groovement is also so supportive. I love going there as it’s like a big family.

‘I can’t wait for my next competition which is in just a few weeks’ time!’