26th May 2020

Penny, the tapping dancing diplodocus

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Last Sunday [24th May] teacher, Penny Nash joined thousands of people to take part in Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation’s National Tapathon. Penny decided to take the challenge one step further however by choosing to dance in a full dinosaur costume!

“I’ve supported Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for many years after losing my mum, Janet, to lung cancer in 1993. In 2018, to mark 25 years without her and my 50th birthday, I ran the London marathon with my friend as a Roy’s Runner.

My run buddy was then lucky enough to win two places in the Paris Marathon. I also got a ballot place in RideLondon but then COVID came along and everything was cancelled. Charities found themselves in desperate need. Then I saw the tapathon advertised. I have 2 left feet and no coordination, but I love a challenge. I also remember Roy Castle tap dancing in the original record-breaking dance outside BBC Television Centre. 

Originally, I signed up with no intention of setting up a fundraising page as I felt I’d asked for too much sponsorship already but knew how much Roy’s meant to me and what fantastic work they do so I set it up. I also persuaded my sister and a friend to sign up to the tapathon. 

I work in a school and during lockdown at school we have been doing Joe Wicks.  He introduced fancy dress Friday. As a result, I have turned up at school every Friday in a different inflatable suit of some sort to do PE in and then have run home in my costumes to make people laugh. 

When I started practicing my tap dancing it became apparent, I was rubbish. Even buying tap shoes didn’t turn me in to an amazing tap dancer. Despite only being in my own house with only my long-suffering family as witnesses I felt I needed to distract from my feet, so a costume seemed like the best bet! On the day, I performed in an inflatable shark, a diplodocus and a unicorn.”

Penny was one of over 2000 people to take part in the tapathon and, collectively, raised over £50k for the charity. The event was hosted by BBC’s The Greatest Dancer finalist, Harrison Vaughan and the team danced to Roy Castle’s version of Happy Feet.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Fundation, is overwhelmed by the amount raised:

“We are blown away by the amount our supporters like Penny have raised and are so pleased everyone had so much fun taking part.

“People with lung cancer are at high risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19. They are also seeing their life lengthening treatments postponed due to that risk so, understandably, there is a lot of concern, fear and anxiety.

“We have been supporting people living with lung cancer for the last 30 years. Our Ask the Nurse helpline continues to run, answering any questions patients or their loved ones have. We have also launched our Keep in Touch Support service to ensure the most vulnerable are supported and have someone to talk to.

“The incredible efforts by our 2020 tappers will go a long way in sustaining these services and more and we are extremely grateful.”

So, will Penny keep dancing?

“Now the tapathon is over, I still practice the routine whilst cooking dinner. I’m looking forward to next year’s tapathon but could do with the routine now, so I have some chance of learning it! That said, I have a cupboard full of costumes ready to disguise my dodgy foot work. 

“I watched my mum go through this terrible disease and I don’t want anybody else to have to suffer like she did. The research and the support that Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation provide will help others and I shall continue to support the charity as best I can, be it running, cycling or dancing.”