Dancing on Ice pro skater Tom Naylor was greeted with cheers and applause when he returned to home to Blackpool to visit a private hospital where staff have been following his every twist and turn.
Tom, who is partnered with Coronation Street actress Lisa George in the hit ITV show, is the son of consultant opthalmologist at Spire Fylde Coast Hospital Gerald Naylor, and is himself a qualified doctor.
Tom grew up in Blackpool where he learned to ice skate from the age of seven with his younger brother Sam and older sister Emma, with all three taking part in regular shows at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Alongside his ice skating career Tom has also followed in his father’s footsteps to become a doctor, and is taking a break from training as an orthopaedic surgeon in Manchester to participate in Dancing on Ice.
The 32-year-old took time out of his busy training and filming schedule to visit Spire Fylde Coast Hospital – where it turns out by strange co-incidence, Lisa once had her eyes checked by his dad!
He was taken on a tour of the in- and out-patients wards and theatre facilities at the hospital on St Walburgas Road. He also got to meet and thank his dad’s colleagues who have been supporting him in the show – and contrary to every professional instinct, willing him to ‘break a leg’!
Tom said: “It was really nice to get the feeling of support from the staff, and to get a tour round the facility at Spire. It was a very warm welcome and evidently they’ve been watching the show and that’s really nice to hear.
“It was quite surreal to be in the operating theatre in my training clothes, normally the two worlds are separate so it was quite a bizarre experience to put to two together!”
Tom added: “My mum and dad live in Blackpool so I am back here quite often, I loved growing up here and it’s where I learned to skate, so it has a very special place in my heart.
“It really means a lot that everyone is supporting us, everyone from Spire hospital and across Blackpool, hopefully that support can help carry us on through to the final.”
Tom explained he has always followed his two passions for ice skating and medicine, since the family moved back to Gerald’s home town of Blackpool from Birmingham in 1994, so he could take up a position as ophthalmic surgeon.
Tom learned to skate at the Blackpool Arena from the age of seven, alongside his older sister Emma and younger brother Sam, while a pupil at Norbreck Primary School and later Montgomery High and Blackpool Sixth Form College.
As a youngster he regularly performed at ice shows at Blackpool Pleasure beach, alongside Daniel Whiston, now a choreographer and creative director for Dancing on Ice, and fellow pro-skater on the show, Alex Demetriou.
Tom said: “We were living in Birmingham but when my dad got the offer to work back in Blackpool which is his home town, the way it was sold to us was that we would get to do fun things. They took my sister ice dancing at Blackpool Arena, and since they were taking her they took me as well.”
The whole family got involved with mum Sue sewing ice dancing costumes for the children, and dad Gerald doing the spotlights for shows.
When Tom turned 18 he decided to take some time out from studying after his A-Levels, to go on tour with ice dancing show Holiday on Ice.
Gerald said: “When we first moved back to Blackpool, it was a bit of a wrench from the children. We promised they would get to do some nice things and when we took Emma to start skating lessons, Tom decided he wanted to go too, and then their brother Sam joined them.
“It went on from there with all three of them going from group skating to individual lessons. As they got older they all started taking part in competitions and in particular in Blackpool they grew up in the environment of skating shows like Hot Ice at Blackpool Pleasure Beach every year.
“They were also involved in a children’s show organised by Blackpool Ice Drome Charities Association. Tom took to it straight away – he was involved in that from about 8 to 18 and it raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.
“A lot of children who grow up in Blackpool take part in these shows and that’s what spurs them on to take part in professional shows all over the world. Wherever you see ice skating there is always someone from Blackpool.”
Gerald said “Then when Tom was 18 that’s when he went and started skating professionally, largely for Holiday on Ice and other shows.
“He always really enjoyed skating. His intention was always to go into medicine but he was keen to have the opportunity to travel skating so he made a conscious decision to do both, and he delayed University to go travelling after his A-levels. It’s allowed him to develop other life skills as a team player and gaining confidence performing in front of thousands of people. It’s worked out really well.
“He has known a lot of people in Dancing on ice for a long time, a lot of the coaches and professionals in the show know him, and when the opportunity came up and he was delighted to be a part of it.
“We have been watching the show, and we went down there this weekend to see the show. We met Lisa, it’s such a bizarre coincidence that I had seen her previously for an eye consultation at Spire. It’s great to see her and Tom in action!
Since taking part in the show Tom has discovered the unexpected coincidence that Lisa has seen Mr Naylor for a consultation about a minor eye complaint in 2017.
Tom and Lisa have been keeping audiences gripped with their stunningly choreographed perfomances, with judge John Barrowman praising their capacity to convey joy, warmth and magic through their moves.
Tom said: “We only found out about the coincidence a couple of weeks ago.
“Lisa met my mum and she was asking what my dad did for a living and I told him he was a surgeon and she said she’d seen an someone in Blackpool about her eye. It’s such a strange coincidence!”
He added: Dad’s always been really positive about Spire he speaks very highly of the hospital and he has always been very supportive passing on his knowledge and wisdom in the medical field to me.
“He doesn’t advise me so much on the dancing though!”
Gerald said: “It was really good fun to have Tom in the visit the hospital.
“He’s very flattered by the support. A lot of the staff know me and follow the show but they didn’t know about Tom’s skating career so it’s been lovely for them to be able to meet him in person. A lot of them enjoy the show and follow they show, to have that sort of connection is really nice.”
Tracy Jackson, Director said: “We have all been watching the show and Tom is great. Everyone’s so proud of him being local and even more so as he is Mr Naylor’s son. What an amazing co-incidence that Lisa had a consultation here.”
Mike Sarson, Director of Clinical Services at Spire Fylde Coast Hospital said: “Tom was great he came in and met the staff and had a walk around the hospital to visit the in-patient and outpatients wards, and one of our theatres.
“He was really nice and approachable. His dad’s a consultant here and we’ve been following the show and supporting him and Lisa every week.
“We’ve actually booked to go ice skating in Blackpool for a team building day so he’s providing some great inspiration for the team.
“The staff were all really pleased to get to meet him and wish him well. It’s so nice of him to take time out to visit.”