A former Sheffield student whose triumph over adversity captured the hearts of Britain’s Got Talent viewers says she dreams of returning to the city as a big-name performer.
Soprano Aliki Chrysochou was in her first year of study for a degree in music and performance at the University of Sheffield when she was diagnosed with a deadly brain disease which left her unable to read, walk, or talk.
Her studies were put on hold and her parents were warned to expect the worst as the classically-trained singer battled encephalitis.
But after a successful course of treatment she returned to the city to complete her degree - and perform in a graduation recital.
Now the 29-year-old has her sights set on stardom after winning a standing ovation for her rendition of rock band Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life on the ITV talent show.
She said: “I chose Sheffield because my mum lived in Nottinghamshire at the time and it wasn’t too far from home.
“I was in my first year, I had just auditioned for an opera in Sheffield which was going to go out to Spain, but then I got really poorly.
“Everything went on hold and I was treated at a neurology hospital in London. I was aware of what was going but I was paralysed.
“I went back and then did another two years. I remember graduating and performing in the beautiful cathedral.”
Aliki, who is half-Greek, moved to New York to pursue her dreams after finishing her studies and did a number of jobs in a bid to get noticed.
She returned to the UK to teach music but never gave up hope of one day seeing her name in lights.
So when this year’s Britain’s Got Talent auditions came around it was a now-or-never moment for Aliki.
Her moving performance dazzled judge Simon Cowell.
He said: “There’s something special about her.”
Social networking sites Twitter and Facebook were bombarded with messages of support for Aliki following the broadcast of her audition.
She is now a hotly-tipped favourite for the live shows and hopes her South Yorkshire connection will win her a fan base in this neck of the woods.
She said: “I’m still in touch with my old lecturer from Sheffield and I told him I was going to audition. He was really excited for me.
“To get such a response from the audience and comments from the judges was incredible.
“The response since my audition aired has been amazing. It has been out of this world.
“I’m just enjoying the journey Britain’s Got Talent is taking me on.
“I would love to come back to Sheffield as a real performer and sing at one of the venues there.
“It would be a dream.”