Rose Ayling-Ellis says winning Strictly is a dream come true and boosted her confidence for life.
The 27-year-old made history as the first deaf Glitterball champion on Saturday.
She lifted the trophy with dance partner Giovanni Pernice, his first win in seven years on Strictly.
Calling him “the most wonderful human ever”, Rose added yesterday: “He brought the best out of me. I can’t thank him enough for all the work and effort to make me become the dancer I am today.
“Winning the Glitterball is the best gift I could give to Giovanni, he really deserves it. I am beyond proud of us.”
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Going on to thank the unsung heroes of her Strictly triumph, including her sign language interpreters, she said: “Thank you for making sure everything was accessible for me so that I could focus on my dancing and my Strictly journey without worrying about how I could communicate.
“I felt that I could 100% be myself because of this and for that I am eternally grateful.
“Thank you to my team of interpreters who always made sure I understood everything.
“Every person on Strictly works so hard to bring the show together and they are the most creative people…I am truly going to miss it a lot.”
Rose and Giovanni beat John Whaite and partner Johannes Radebe, the first all-male pairing.
The third finalist, AJ Odudu, was forced to pull out on Friday due to an ankle injury.
The final pulled in an average 11 million viewers, with a peak of 12.3 million. Later Giovanni posted a snap of himself in bed with the Glitterball, saying: “We are the champions my friend Rose. Dreams do come true if you believe in it…and that’s what you did, super star.”
Rose, who was EastEnders’ first deaf actress as Frankie Lewis last year, won the nation’s hearts in Week 8 with a dance featuring a silent section, letting viewers experience her world.
Even the judges were brought to tears as she repeated the routine in the final.
Mark Atkinson of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People said her appearance on the BBC1 show gave “a beautiful insight into deaf culture”.
He added: “Her victory is a victory for the deaf community. She’s shown deaf people can do anything if society addresses the barriers and provides the right access and support.”