Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services 2019

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work benefitting their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. It is the MBE for volunteer groups. This prestigious honour recognises the exceptional contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others. DanceSyndrome were announced as recipients on 2nd June 2019 – winners are always announced on this date as it is the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, as The Queen’s representative, presented the group with a certificate, signed by The Queen, and a commemorative crystal award at a local ceremony at County Hall in Preston. DanceSyndrome Spokesperson and Ambassador Becky Rich was also invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace to commemorate the occasion.

DanceSyndrome Founder Director Jen Blackwell said, “Wow, I’m just stunned and over the moon. It is the most amazing thing ever. I could never have thought DS could have won this award when we started out 10 years ago when it was just me with no one, nowhere to go, no other dancers”.

Power 100 2018, 2019 & 2020

Jen Blackwell, DanceSyndrome Founder and Director, was announced as one of the most influential people with a disability in the UK in 2018, then again in 2019 and then again for the third time in 2020!

The Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. More than 700 nominations were received for the 100 places. Shaw Trust work with government, local authorities and employers to support people overcome barriers which hold them back from achieving their potential. One of the aims of the Disability Power 100 list is to demonstrate to young people that they can achieve their ambitions.

Jen, who happens to have Down’s syndrome, founded DanceSyndrome because she found it difficult to find opportunities in community dance due to her disability. DanceSyndrome’s ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams. Jen’s inclusion in the Power 100 is testament to her determination to “dream, believe, achieve” regardless of her disability.

National Learning Disability and Autism Awards 2019 – Winner of the People’s Award

The National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and aim to pay tribute to individuals and organisations who excel in providing quality provision. The People’s Award celebrates the work of a team who offer exceptional encouragement, personal development and inclusive opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities and or autism.

The judges described DanceSyndrome as “An outstanding group of individuals that bring people from all diversities together. DanceSyndrome gives people the opportunity to grow and develop relationships, as well as to be a part of something meaningful. An inclusive group that welcomes all, transforming the lives of all who join, and empowering some individuals to become dance leaders.”

Lisa Carr, Editor of Care Talk magazine who host the event, said: “The awards acknowledge and champion the amazing work done each day in the care sector to support people living with learning disabilities and autism. The people nominated for these awards represent the social care sector at its very best, and they enable people to live rich and fulfilling lives. We are thrilled to be able to recognise the unsung heroes in our communities.”

Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

DanceSyndrome Dance Leader Becky Rich has been recognised at a national level for the contribution that she has made to the lives of people with disabilities.

The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List is the UK’s first national listing of people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are helping make things better for themselves and others. The Leaders’ List is a project created for its first year in 2018 by not-for-profit support provider Dimensions, in association with Learning Disability England, VODG and the Guardian newspaper. It is a collection of stories from people who have learning disabilities and/or autism who are making a difference and getting involved.

Becky is a volunteer with DanceSyndrome. She has become a valued member of DanceSyndrome’s two performance teams, delivering inspiring contemporary dance and street dance performances to audiences across the UK. She is also a talented public speaker, going to high profile events and conferences to speak about disability rights and the need for society to be more inclusive. This has led to her being given the role of Spokesperson and Ambassador, a role which she has taken to whole-heartedly, eagerly contacting businesses and high profile individuals across the country to ask for their support.

The incredible work Becky does for DanceSyndrome resulted in her being nominated for the Leaders List. She was chosen from over 600 nominations as one of the 60 people to be included in the list, one of only 15 people recognised in the category of sports, arts and entertainment.

Points of Light Award – 25 October 2018

Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers – people who are making a change in their community. Every weekday the Prime Minister recognises an inspirational volunteer with the Daily Point of Light award. Since April 2014, hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain. Doing everything from tackling knife crime, to supporting families of dementia patients, UK Points of Light are fundraising, awareness raising, problem solving heroes who all had an idea they decided to make a reality. Their actions have changed lives and their stories can inspire thousands more to get involved or start their own initiatives.

DanceSyndrome Founder Jen Blackwell was chosen as the recipient of the daily award on 25th October 2018. She received a certificate and a personal letter from the Prime Minister, who said:

“Through ‘DanceSyndrome’ you have created an accessible environment where people of all abilities can share your love of dance. Your community workshops and performances are improving the fitness and wellbeing of young people with learning difficulties and sending a positive message about the importance of inclusion.”

E3 Business Awards 2018 – Charity of the Year

Despite strong competition from not-for-profit organisations across the North West, DanceSyndrome was chosen as the Charity of the Year at the 2018 E3 Business Awards.

The award was designed to celebrate charities whose work meets a real and pressing need and the judges felt that there was clear evidence and examples of how DanceSyndrome is making a positive and worthwhile impact on society and the individuals who participate.

They also believed that DanceSyndrome is doing something that other organisations are not, that our approach is especially effective and that we have a clear and reasoned strategy for sustaining our work in the long term.

As DanceSyndrome moves towards a more sustainable future, our team are proud to receive this award that recognises that we are a business orientated charity, doing worthwhile work!

Red Rose Awards 2017 – Not-For-Profit Award Winner

DanceSyndrome was recognised at the Red Rose Awards 2017, where the charity was chosen as the winner of this year’s Not-For-Profit Award.

The award was designed to celebrate the work of not-for-profit public and private sector organisations that demonstrate support and development of their workforce including commitment to skills, flexible working, team building and sharing successes.   

The DanceSyndrome team were delighted to attend the Awards night, where a total of 25 awards were presented on the night, to people working in all types of businesses, from retail, to skills and training, to property, and everything in between! The team was absolutely thrilled when they were announced as the winners of their award!

The judges’ comments, which were read out on the night, stated “DanceSyndrome is a truly inspirational and passionate business which is changing lives. They can clearly be seen going the extra mile and, with franchise aspirations, this business model could change many more lives for the future.”

We are so proud to be chosen as winners of the Not-For-Profit Award! The other organisations who were nominated all do really valuable and important work, so we feel truly honoured to be chosen as the winner. It is a real privilege for DanceSyndrome to be recognised in the company of so many excellent organisations from across the county. We hope to be able to build on this success and enable even more people to join us and be inspired to follow their dreams, whether that is in dance or other areas.



National Learning Disability and Autism Awards 2016 – Winner of the Sporting Chance Award

DanceSyndrome was recognised at a national level in July 2016 when our Dancer Leader team was announced as the winner of the Sporting Chance Award at the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards. The awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisations who excel in providing quality provision.

The Dance Leaders were nominated for the Sporting Chance Award which celebrates a person or team who have worked creatively to develop sporting activities in which people with learning disabilities and/or autism can participate and enjoy. DanceSyndrome actively promotes the importance of improving physical and personal wellbeing and with our inclusive approach to dance we challenge perceptions and emphasise ability rather than disability.

The Dance Leaders were absolutely thrilled when they were announced as the winners of their award! They are such a hard working, dedicated group of people who have a real passion for dance, they truly deserve this accolade. The fact that many of them have overcome difficulties to achieve their ambitions of becoming Dance Leaders is truly inspiring and we hope that people will see them dancing and be inspired to follow their own dreams, whether that is in dance or other areas.

The Dance Leader team is comprised of 13 individuals from Lancashire and Greater Manchester; Sophie Tickle from St Helen’s, Jen Blackwell, David Corr, Jonathan Rodman and Donna Harrison from Chorley, Sue Chadwick from Rishton, David Darcy, Becky Rich and Jodie Turner from Preston, Peter Pamplett from Salford, Elizabeth Boothby from Oldham, John Hendrickson from Sale, Helen Shepherd from Blackburn and Dorothy Shepherd from Darwen. Well done to all team members! We are incredibly proud of all you have achieved!



Enterprise Vision Awards 2015 – Jen Blackwell wins Inspirational Woman of the Year

DanceSyndrome Founder Jen Blackwell won Inspirational Woman of the Year at the Enterprise Vision Awards 2015, despite tough competition from many well established women in business across the North West.

Jen, who happens to have Down’s syndrome, founded DanceSyndrome because she could not find any opportunities to work in community dance. Now many people like Jen are training to become dance leaders and dancing together with professional dance artists to produce beautiful performance pieces which they perform across the UK.

On winning the award Jen said “I cannot believe I’ve won Inspirational Woman of the Year, I’m so thrilled and grateful to everyone who voted for me. Dancing is my life, I am passionate about dance and about supporting people like me to have opportunities in the dance world. Winning this award shows that people with learning disabilities can do amazing things with their lives if given a chance”.

The DanceSyndrome team are incredibly proud of Jen. Not only is she succeeding in her chosen career, she is demonstrating that other people with learning disabilities can be successful too. Jen inspires other people with learning disabilities to lead a life of their choosing and winning the Inspirational Woman of the Year award is a great start towards her getting the recognition that she deserves.