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Youngsters set to dance their way to charity cash
19 April 2018

Nearly 200 talented young dancers are set to tap, jive and pirouette their way through a marathon danceathon to raise vital funds towards a £2.5m upgrade of Ipswich Hospital’s children’s department.

The youngsters, who are aged between three and 16, will take part in the event during the first week in May, and will dance non-stop for anything from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on their age.

The danceathon has been organised by Miss Lesley’s School of Performing Arts, and has been inspired by 14-year-old Megan Banks, a pupil at the dance school who spent six weeks on the Bergholt Ward last year being treated for anorexia.

Megan and her family, who live in Hitcham, were so grateful for the care they received that they decided to say thank you by raising funds.

“I’m really excited about the danceathon – it should be really good fun,” said Megan. “I think it will also be really tiring as we’re not allowed to stop – even if you need a drink, you have to dance over to collect your water.

“The staff were all really nice and made me feel really secure when I was on the ward, but I did also find it difficult. I couldn’t walk even a step and was in a wheelchair, but there wasn’t much room to get around. It was also really difficult when I wanted to have a shower as my wheelchair caused a real problem.

“I want to raise as much as I can at the danceathon so that we can help make the ward better for other patients as I think it will make a big difference.”

Ipswich Hospital has launched a fundraising appeal to transform the children’s department by increasing clinic rooms and refurbishing the outside play area, as well as creating more ensuite bedrooms, dedicated spaces for teenagers and young people and disabled bathrooms.

A separate dining area will also be introduced so that patients can eat away from others who may be nil by mouth or have an eating disorder – something which Megan’s mum Jane says will make a big difference.

“The staff were absolutely amazing – out of this world. We couldn’t have asked for anymore,” said Jane. “Megan really wanted to give something back and say thank you.

“The biggest problem for Megan was that the food trolley was right next to her, which wasn’t ideal when she was battling her illness. The separate dining room which is being planned as part of the refurbishment will make a real difference. We will do everything we can to help with the fundraising.”

Lesley Woods-Gould founded the performing arts school, which is based in Bildeston and Boxford, following a successful career as an actress, dancer and TV presenter. She said: “We want to create a really fun, party atmosphere for the danceathon and will be encouraging families to come along and the dancers to have crazy hairstyles. If the weather is good, we’re even hoping to start a conga round Bildeston.

“The children’s appeal is a really great cause. People really like the fact that it is local, as they know where the money is going. We raised £2000 last time we did a danceathon so are hoping to beat that total this time around.”

For more information about the appeal, contact The Ipswich Hospital Charity on 01473 702929, email charity@ipswichhospital.nhs.uk<mailto:charity@ipswichhospital.nhs.uk> or visit www.ipswichhospitalcharity.co.uk/childrensappeal<http://www.ipswichhospitalcharity.co.uk/childrensappeal>