He’s overcome stage fright, other people’s preconceptions and a lifelong learning disability.
And, just days after DJing live to more than 3,000 revellers, Casey Rochell picked up an award at 2017’s Kirklees Learning Disability Outstanding Achievement Awards hosted by Mirfield’s Hollybank Trust.
Now the 23-year-old from Meltham, who has Down’s Syndrome and autistic traits, is blazing a trail for other disabled people to break into the entertainment industry.
His mentor John Johnson, a 30-year veteran of the UK DJing scene, says Casey is wowing everyone with his poise and professionalism, proving that having a disability is no barrier to entertaining the masses.
“Casey delivers content in the same way as anyone else would,” said John, 46, who lives in Longwood. “At Cambridge people were just amazed at his DJing. He wasn’t a DJ with Down’s syndrome; he was just being himself.
“Now I want him to get around the country. He’s an example of what people can do: a lad from Huddersfield who came to the school of DJing and discovered a talent. Cambridge was a colossal gig and he just owned it.”
Casey was the face of Mencap’s ‘Here I Am’ campaign last year, starring in a video that was launched at the House of Commons.
The very next morning he was invited to DJ at a swanky summer ball at King’s College, Cambridge, where the line-up also included flamboyant drag queen RuPaul. Next up for this energetic lad is Mencap’s You’ve Got Talent competition in Birmingham.
Mum Jacqui Rochell, 52, saw Casey in action in Cambridge and was so emotional she could barely speak.
“I was so proud I could have cried,” she said. “I felt overwhelmed for him. As a baby you tend to focus on the negatives. I never knew what he could achieve. He’s always been polite and sociable but now he’s focused and a perfectionist about the work. Everyone treats him normally. The more normal you treat him the better he reacts.”
John and Casey are now at the forefront of a new academy planned to launch in Huddersfield this summer. It will focus on giving people with learning disabilities employment and opportunities as DJs, entertainers and presenters.
John added: “Casey is a perfect example of what someone can achieve. He’s never too exuberant, he always delivers content on cue and he never gets above himself. I would give him 10 out of 10 for his behaviour and attitude.”