‘Strictly Cymru’ continues to empower disabled people
At 5pm on 13 February 2021, Leonard Cheshire will livestream on its Facebook page the final of its pan-Wales, pan-disability dance competition, Strictly Cymru, highlighting the journeys of its 18 finalists who make up the final 9 acts from across Wales.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire adapted their all-inclusive dance competition to be delivered online.
The pan-disability dance competition is run by Leonard Cheshire in partnership with Paradance UK. The competition draws participants from all over Wales, with heats having taken place in Anglesey, Wrexham, Carmarthen, Bridgend, Cardiff and Newport.
Over 230 people who self-identify as disabled took part in these heats, receiving training from an inclusive dance specialist before performing a final routine.
Covid-19 interrupted the face-to-face delivery of the project, so the 9 final acts received 1-to-1 coaching virtually, with classrooms, bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms becoming virtual dance floors. Leonard Cheshire also hosted virtual afternoon teas for finalists, with hampers sent out from the charity’s social enterprise coffee shop the Social Bean in Swansea.
When asked to sum up their Strictly experience, dancing duo Carys and Daniel described their Strictly journey as “Amazing, wonderful and incredible.”
The judging panel was made up of Carolyn Harris MP, along with Paula Moulton and Gary Lyness, better known as 'Strictly Wheels', the UK’s first and only top class Latin Wheelchair Dance Sport coup
Carolyn Harris MP said: “I am really looking forward to judging the Strictly Cymru 2021 event planned by Leonard Cheshire. I am sure the razzle-dazzle of the show will be a tonic and lift our collective spirits at a time when we most need it. I’d like to wish all the contestants the best of luck for the night and I know you will all be amazing.”
Gary Lyness said: "Having judged the live final last year, I was incredibly honoured to be invited back to judge again for this year's Virtual Strictly Cymru final! I'll definitely be looking for new faces and hopefully some familiar faces to see how they have improved since last year. It's an amazing achievement to have taken the competition online this year."
The live streaming will feature highlights of the journey of each of the remaining 9 final acts. Viewers can contribute to keep the project running by texting STRICTLY to 70145 to donate £5.
Emma Wilcox, Fundraising Manager for Leonard Cheshire said:
“Strictly Cymru is far more than a dance competition – It is an opportunity to grow in confidence, believe in yourself and to try something new. We have supported people all over Wales who and never danced before as they never had the opportunity.
"Strictly has opened doors for disabled people to dance in national competitions, volunteer in local clubs as mentors and teach dance classes. We are so proud of the competition and we hope to raise enough funds to deliver it again next year.”
Leonard Cheshire are grateful to the Simon Gibson Charitable Trust, David Solomons Charitable Trust and Bridgend County Borough Council for supporting Strictly Community and empowering disabled people to try something new.
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The text to donate number featured must be followed in some form by the disclaimer. This can be shortened to just include the following: You will be charged £5 plus one message at your standard network rate. Leonard Cheshire receives 95% of your donation. Leonard Cheshire Disability is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no: 552847, and a registered charity no: 218186 (England & Wales) and no: SC005117 (Scotland). VAT no: 899322375.