AJ Pritchard says brother saved his ‘legs and life’ in horror nightclub attack

31 December 2018, 10:46 | Updated: 31 December 2018, 19:42

The Strictly professional revealed how younger brother Curtis protected him from violent thugs in Cheshire club beating

AJ Pritchard on the red carpet at the BBC Sports Personality
AJ Pritchard on the red carpet at the BBC Sports Personality. Picture: Getty

Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Pritchard has revealed that he and his brother Curtis are lucky to be alive after thugs attacked the professional dancers in a nightclub in Cheshire on Thursday night.

The 24-year-old BBC star said that Curtis, 23, protected both his legs and his life during the “unprovoked” assault that “could have been fatal”.

The pair were beaten up by a gang of eight vicious men, which left AJ’s younger brother unconscious along with a suspected broken nose, a split lip, blurred vision and a knee injury which will affect his dancing career.

Speaking to The Sun, AJ, who was left with bruises on his face, arms, body and legs, said: “Curtis risked his own dancing career to save mine as he threw himself in front of the attackers so they couldn’t get to me. He was thinking of both my dancing career with my legs and my TV career with my face.

“He tried to protect me and in doing so saved my life and my legs from danger.

“I soon realised there were no winners in this scenario. I just wanted us both to come out alive. I care more about Curtis than I do about selfies and looking good.”

The pair headed to Nakatcha, a club in Nantwich, Cheshire, on 27th December but their festive night out came to a brutal end when the brothers were set upon.

“We’d been lots of times before and the staff there know us, so we felt it was a safe place for us to go,” revealed the Strictly star, who danced with Paratriathlete Lauren Steadman in series 16 of the hit show.

“We were dancing as a group and, out of the blue, Curtis was violently pushed from the side. It all happened so quickly. Suddenly, we were surrounded by about eight blokes.

“He stuck his arms out to try and stop them and moved in front of me. But we were punched and kicked from all angles. We had no time to defend ourselves, by the time we even put our hands up we were being punched and kicked.

“It was like a scene out of a movie, with all the aggression and violence. Nothing like this had ever happened to us before.

“I couldn’t even take in the pain from the kicks and punching. I just knew we had to get away.”

Curtis added: “There were about eight lads on two of us and we’re not fighters.

“We’re not there for a fight. We don’t want to cause trouble.

“We were just minding our own business, then all of a sudden there was a load of lads around us. I just felt a hard, violent push on my left side, as if someone had lunged at me, and that’s when it all kicked off.

“I looked up to see what was happening and I saw four lads go to grab AJ and I thought, ‘I’ve got to get in between them and him to protect him’.

“So I put my arm over to push him backwards out the way and intercepted them with my body. That’s when people were all around us and started violently swinging and hitting at us. It was crazy.

“Because my arms were down trying to protect AJ and push him back, a massive hook came at my face and hit me in the right eye and seconds later a second hook came again and hit me in the same place on my right eye.

“That’s when my legs turned to jelly and I went down and blacked out. It was terrifying. I didn’t know what was happening.

“Just as I was going down, another hook came and hit me in the eye again. After that I was getting kicked on the floor.”

In the terrifying ordeal, AJ managed to move his limp and unconscious brother to safety.

AJ said: “He’d been badly punched and kicked in the face and body and I knew I had to get him away so dragged his body under my arm away from danger.

“His shins were severely hit, his nose, lips and face were bloody. He looked a mess. His eye was closed up and his whole face looked swollen. My T-shirt was covered in his blood. I was terrified.”

Curtis added: “I remember waking up and people were saying, ‘Your face!’. I couldn’t even see through one eye but I was panicking, shouting, ‘My knee, my knee — I can’t walk. I can’t put pressure on it.’

“I knew it wasn’t good. I wasn’t even thinking about my face, I was more worried about my leg. I was thinking, ‘If my leg’s not working I can’t do the dancing that I’ve trained my entire life for’.

“People can still dance blind but they need their legs.”

AJ said: “When I looked in the mirror I was shocked and upset.

“My whole face looked swollen and bruised and there were ring marks from the punching all over my arms. It was awful. I’m painfully bruised, especially on my shins. They’re really bad.

“I needed to ice all over my body and face to stop the swelling but Curtis got the brunt of it as he was protecting me.”

Curtis, who now needs surgery on his injured knee to dance again, has pulled out of Dancing With The Stars in Ireland. He said: “I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t dance again.

“I just hope that operation can save me. Something can go wrong on the operating table. There’s a chance my dancing career is over.”

AJ added: “It’s been a vile and shocking experience.

“Seeing my dad crying is the worst. This endless violence in the UK has to stop.”