Dancing pioneers jumping for joy at top honour

An arts charity working with disabled people across Wigan has won regional honours for its pioneering and inspiring work.

DanceSyndrome, which runs a weekly dance programme in Hindley and offers training courses to those wishing to co-lead dance lessons, has clinched the title of best not-for-profit organisation at this year’s Red Rose Awards held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

The DanceSyndrome team at the awards

The DanceSyndrome team at the awards

The organisation, which was founded and is led by 35-year-old Jen Blackwell, who herself has Down’s syndrome, hosts a weekly dance class at The Rose Club on Atherton Road, which is regularly attended by around 20 people with learning disabilities and their carers as well as those who are fully-abled.

Judges were impressed by the DanceSyndrome team, saying: “DanceSyndrome is a truly inspirational and passionate business which is changing lives.

“They can clearly be seen going the extra mile and, with franchise aspirations, this business model could change many more lives for the future.”

Founded eight years ago, the group brought its inclusive dance classes to the borough in 2014, with the help of Colin Mather who owns Harmony Blinds in Leigh, who offered to pay the rent at the club.

Since then it has grown leaps and bounds, and has trained some of its Wigan members to co-lead their own dance sessions.

Dawn Vickers, managing director at DanceSyndrome, said: “We are so proud to be chosen as winners of the Not-For-Profit Award.

“The other organisations who were nominated all do really valuable and important work, so we feel truly honoured to be chosen as the winner.

“It is a real privilege for DanceSyndrome to be recognised in the company of so many excellent organisations from across the county.

“We hope to be able to build on this success and enable even more people to join us and be inspired to follow their dreams, whether that is in dance or other areas.”

Last year the charity also won the “Sporting Chance Award” at the National Learning Disabilities and Austism Awards.

DanceSyndrome’s aim is to provide “creative and fun learning opportunities” for disabled and non-disabled people to improve their health and wellbeing.

The group is hoping to promote its “inclusive” nature and is encouraging more non-disabled people across the borough to attend the weekly sessions in Hindley.

For more information visit dancesyndrome.co.uk