Kind donors set Wigan dancer on path for success

Alan Gregory, Lucy Eccles and Jill Sheridan
Alan Gregory, Lucy Eccles and Jill Sheridan

A talented young Wigan dancer is stepping towards stardom after a crowd-funding campaign to get her into her dream study venue.

Lucy Eccles, from Swinley, will be off to Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts (Lipa) for a foundation course and hopefully the degree course in dance after that.

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The 18-year-old had set her heart on a career on the biggest stages of all but her family found the £9,000 per year tuition fees a daunting ask.

But Alan Gregory, creator of the Beyond Wigan Pier musical which Lucy took part in, stepped in and suggested asking the generous Wigan public to help out with a campaign called Lucy’s Dream.

That has now borne fruit with kind-hearted residents chipping in some £4,000 and a mystery benefactor providing the rest of the total required.

And Lucy and her mum Jill Sheridan admit to being stunned by the crowd-funding outcome.

Lucy, of Dicconson Street, said: “I’m very excited to be able to go to Lipa and obviously I’m very grateful to everyone who’s donated and helped.

“I can’t thank everyone enough. The support we’ve had has been overwhelming and we’ve had a lot of really nice comments on the crowd-funding page.

“It has been really heart-warming and I especially want to thank Alan for setting it up.

“The cost of studying at somewhere like Lipa really adds up and everything that has been donated will really help me.

“This is great for Wigan too. It proves you don’t have to be of a higher class to go into the performing arts and if you put the effort in and ask for help it can happen.”

Along the way Lucy has attracted some famous supporters, with both Royal Ballet principal dancer Edward Watson and BBC Proms and Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham highlighting the campaign on social media.

Proud mum Jill said: “We’re absolutely delighted. We started out wondering if we could do this but Alan said we could try crowd-funding.

“It is brilliant we have got there.

“Lucy is totally dedicated. I just want her to fulfil her dreams and that is now happening.”

Lucy has been working towards a potential career in dance since she was around 12.

She dances at Tina’s Studio in Springfield and also helps out at the summer schools teaching younger dancers as well as assisting Alan get Wigan Warriors academy rugby players to do ballet through the Pianos, Pies and Pirouettes project.

Ince pianist and accompanist Alan said he wanted to help Lucy because her situation of struggling with sky-high fees at conservatoires mirrored his own when trying to get established in culture from a working-class background.

He said: “It is a frightening amount of money for people to find and you get no funding at all for doing a foundation course.

“I’m extremely pleased the people of Wigan have once again come to the aid of a talented young person to help her achieve her dream.”