Jen Blackwell is now 33 and has Down’s syndrome.  She is the Founder and a Director of the charity DanceSyndrome shortlisted for TWO awards open to all business women across the NorthWest, the Enterprise Vision Awards 2015.

Last Friday was a night like no other.  A glittering occasion where Jen sparkled with the best and we all dressed to impress at the beautiful Empress Ballroom at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.  Jen and I were supported by some of Jen’s remarkable team – as many as could be accommodated.  An announcement at the start that money collected from the glitter tattoos later in the evening would be donated to the charity DanceSyndrome was very welcome.  

Then came the awards.  So many awards to be called, so many finalists waiting with baited breath, and Jen a finalist in both Health and Wellbeing and Inspirational Woman.  The first came and went, then Inspirational Woman was called to be awarded by Heather Waters from NatWest Business, the main sponsors of the whole event.  The highly commended award went to Amy Varle with a truly innovative take on housing solutions for the homeless, and then the overall winner was announced, after the required wait…………….as Jen and Sue Blackwell from DanceSyndrome!  Table 14 erupted in cheers and a scattering of tears amidst hugs of joy, amazement and disbelief.  Through noise and clapping and a standing ovation, Jen and I were escorted onto the stage for Jen to receive amazing public recognition for her determination, battles and challenges to lead a life in dance, inspire others through dance, and share her passion with everyone.  With remarkable composure she moved many to tears with her eloquent acceptance speech receiving yet more applause, acknowledgement and congratulations, followed by celebrations well into the night, a night we shall never forget.

This outcome is nothing short of incredible. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that this could happen to any one of us, least of all to Jen given all the hurdles which life inevitably throws in your way when you have learning disabilities. Jen, DanceSyndrome and I are surrounded by a cohort of people who believe that everyone has the same rights.  This award is testimony to the power of teamwork where everyone contributes allowing Jen to contribute through her language of dance.  As she follows her dream opportunities for others are born, whether disabled or non-disabled.  She carries the torch for disabled entrepreneurs fighting to be seen as equals in the business community.

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