A Huddersfield Irish dance school is committed to helping disadvantaged and disabled children along with those at risk of falling into crime.

Kane Irish Dance based in Marsh has started to provide free dance shoes to some youngsters at its holiday clubs.

Now dance school owner Rebecca Kane is also looking to sponsor a child for a year with free Irish dance lessons.

The children the shoes and scholarship aims to help includes those with special needs, children who may have lost a parent at a young age, have been a child victim of domestic violence or might be at risk of being groomed into gangs. 

Rebecca, who is also a former kickboxing and stick fighting world champion, said: “We see children’s lives being turned around by boxing gyms but I think Irish dance can also do the same.

“We are now actively looking for someone to help with a year’s dance scholarship at Kane Irish Dance and people can send their nominations direct to me.”

Rebecca is also hoping to get more local schools interested in Irish dance. She has set up a community interest company called New Directions (https://newdirectionservices.co.uk/) to help change people’s outlook on life through dance and hopes to widen that out into other activities such as martial arts and sport.

The free dance shoes have been given to Kane Irish Dance by the Marie Duffy Foundation which is based in Buckinghamshire. They have also donated dresses for Rebecca to lend to some of her dance pupils and to help her teach the history of Irish dance.

Marie Duffy is one of the best-known names in Irish dance and was Michael Flatley’s choreographer for his Lord of the Dance shows.

Kane Irish Dance has provided free dance shoes to two youngsters so far – Ava Knight who is autistic and eight-year-old Lillie Gartland who is a carer for her 10-year-old brother, Sean.

Lillie is a massive help looking after Sean who has Down Syndrome. Mum Dearbhla said: “I’m a single mum so there’s not a lot of things Lillie gets chance to do herself but one is her Irish dancing which she absolutely loves.

“Her life revolves around Sean which means she’s very involved with him and had to grow up quickly but the Irish dance means she can go and express herself.”

Lillie is a pupil at Hade Edge Junior, Infant and Nursery School and the family live in Holmfirth.

Her friend, Ava, has also received some free hard dance shoes and her mum Jeannie said Irish dance was really boosting the 10-year-old’s confidence.

She said: “Ava can’t do with big groups so her dance class has around five in it which is just right. Rebecca also arranges for extra help to come in to support Ava when needed. She really loves it, especially the noise the hard shoes make and goes every Saturday. It also helps her to socialise which is very important.”

Ava lives in Skelmanthorpe and attends Hepworth Junior and Infant School.

Anyone who wants to nominate someone for the dance scholarship should email Rebecca at info@kaneirishdance.com or call her on 07732 801847.

The dance school’s website is https://kaneirishdance.com/

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.