Like so many of us, Footlight Performance Academy have endured its fair share of disappointments this year, with both its annual production and pantomime both cancelled. So, when they heard about our Christmas tapathon, they thought it would be great way for their students to come together and have something to look forward to.
But when they found out the mum of one of their dancers had just been diagnosed with lung cancer, the team ramped up their training and fundraising in support of Emma and her mum, Jo and, to date, have raised nearly £5,000.
Leanne Dade is the manager of the Wimborne-based dance school:
“Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is such an important charity to us. Both myself and our Principal, Nina Thompson, have lost very close family members to lung cancer and when we heard that Emma’s mum had been diagnosed with lung cancer, we wanted to do everything we can to show our support.
“Emma has been at Footlight since she was just 3 years old. She is a beautiful dancer and dreams of attending a ballet school when she graduates at 18. She is such a ray of light, always smiling and never lets anything bring her down but, obviously, this is a very difficult time for her and her family. Jo, her mum, has said that dance is helping her through it though and been a positive distraction for her.”
Jo was diagnosed in October and has just started on chemotherapy. Prior to her diagnosis, Jo had experienced some breathlessness and was finding it difficult to walk up hills. Understandably, the news came as a massive shock for the family and they are still coming to terms with the diagnosis.
Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and urges everyone to understand all the potential symptoms of the disease, which can include a persistent cough, repeat chest infections, breathlessness and unexplained weight loss and tiredness:
“With something as serious as lung cancer, you would expect the warning signs to mirror the severity. However, symptoms are often vague so it’s vital everyone can recognise them and take action as quickly as they can, even if they are in a local lockdown, or live in an area in tier three.”
The charity has been raising awareness of lung cancer and its symptoms, including a persistent cough which is now so strongly associated to Covid. Money raised from its Christmas tapathon will help them continue this essential work as well as supporting people like Jo throughout their diagnosis and treatment.
“We taught all three levels of the routine to the dancers,” continues Leanne. “The 5-8 year olds have learnt the Beginners routine, the 9-13 year olds have learnt the Intermediate routine and the 14+ have learnt the Advanced. We even had a couple of the parents of the younger students learn the routine!
The routines have been challenging, but really fun to learn and we’re really proud how the families of our students have come together as a Footlight family and supported one another.”
Footlight Performance Academy took part in the virtual tapathon on Sunday 13th December. You can still donate via their JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/team/FootlightPerformanceAcademy