Wigan dance charity earns top award

Members of the DanceSyndrome team
Members of the DanceSyndrome team

An inclusive dance charity which runs classes in Wigan has received the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

DanceSyndrome, a charity which runs dance classes and leadership courses across the North West - including Hindley, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The prestigious honour recognises the exceptional contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.

DanceSyndrome was founded by Jen Blackwell, a dancer who has Down’s Syndrome, and her parents to enable her and others to find the right opportunities and training in community dance no matter their disability.

Its ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams and they empower people with and without disabilities to pursue a career in dance.

Jen said, “Wow, I’m just stunned and over the moon.

“It is the most amazing thing ever. I could never have thought DanceSyndrome could have won this award when we started out 10 years ago when it was just me with no one, nowhere to go, no other dancers”.

The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, as The Queen’s representative, will present the group with a certificate, signed by The Queen, and a commemorative crystal award at a local ceremony later this summer.

Dawn Vickers, managing director of DanceSyndrome, said: “For charities like DanceSyndrome the Queens Award for Voluntary Services is the highest honour that we can achieve, and we are thrilled to have been chosen to receive the award this year.

“DanceSyndrome wouldn’t exist without the hard work and dedication of our incredible volunteers and we are delighted that their effort has been recognised at such a high level.

“We hope that this award helps to raise the profile of volunteering and helps people to see how much value there can be in giving your time to your local community.”

Just last month, the charity’s ambassador, Becky Rich, was also invited to a royal garden party.

“This is biggest and best thing that has ever happened to me personally and I was so proud to DanceSyndrome at Buckingham Palace where I met so many caring and interesting people,” she said. “It was a real privilege and I’m very excited and overwhelmed with gratitude”.