Peter Pamphlett was one of the first volunteer dancers to join Jen Blackwell when DanceSyndrome was first established and he has been a vital member of the team ever since, playing an active role in scoping out what the group wanted the charity to look like and the activities they wanted to deliver. In his time with DanceSyndrome Peter has blossomed as an individual and his confidence exudes, especially as he delivers our unique Dance By Example training course to future Dance Leaders, using his previous experiences to help others with their communication and develop their skills in both dance and leadership. He is also a key member of the Board of Trustees. Here Peter talks about why volunteering with DanceSyndrome is so important to him.
Peter was born in 1978 at Bolton Royal Hospital. When he was a child it became clear that he had a speech impediment, a learning disability which means that although his brain processed information quite quickly he couldn’t always communicate what he was thinking and people found it very hard to understand him.
This was frustrating for Peter but his dad really helped to coach him into communicating clearly, focusing on thinking about what he wanted to say, breathing and filling his lungs and then speaking. This really helped Peter and is a technique he now uses to coach others in a similar position.
Peter found school challenging until he was moved to Claremont Primary in Salford, a special school where they nurtured and supported him and found out about his interests in drama, music and drawing. This continued through secondary school and his confidence grew after securing a place on the school council and helping to set up a drama group – So Many Words Theatre Company.
Peter now leads a busy, independent life. On a weekly basis he volunteers at YouCan Community Club and also goes to a disability social night called Top Club in Salford where he is the DJ for Discos, helps run activities, supports trips out and helps with holiday activities; is the volunteer escort for the Ring And Ride Service in Salford, where he supports individuals on transport to Youth Club providing respite for families; is a dance leader with DanceSyndrome where he leads workshops, attends core company rehearsals, co-delivers training and delivers presentations at conferences. Peter has also worked in the DanceSyndrome office, helping with a variety of administrative tasks, including data processing, organising events and video editing.
“Before I joined DanceSyndrome I did some bits of dancing with the youth club that I volunteer with but not much. I did some drama too but I couldn’t find a good regular dance activity until I saw DanceSyndrome advertised. I’ve been involved with DanceSyndrome since the very start and I have been able to do many exciting performances and workshops.”
“The impact DanceSyndrome has is overwhelming. What we are doing hasn’t happened before, it’s unique.”
“Thanks to DanceSyndrome I have done so many things I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. We performed on Comic Relief in 2013, we have been to the Edinburgh Fringe twice (2017 and 2018), we have performed to hundreds of people at big conferences and awards ceremonies. The performances are always really moving for the audiences and it is an amazing feeling to hear people cheering loudly and giving us standing ovations!”
“DanceSyndrome has helped me because I’m able to do things at my own pace, I’m never rushed. DanceSyndrome has made me more confident and I have learned lots of new things, but especially how to be a Dance Leader . I now have so much experience that I help to deliver the Dance By Example training courses and training for university students. I can see my friends learning and growing and now I know how to support them and enable them to achieve bigger things too, like leading workshops and special events. I’m always proud of the work we do. It’s inspiring to see people make progress and see the really good work that people do in our sessions.”
“There are times when I feel very proud of myself too. When I was leading a training session in Nottingham a professional Dance Artist said to me that I had made the instructions so clear and explained it in a way she had never thought to do. It’s a great feeling to know that you can help people who have been professionally trained to learn new things and see a new way of doing things that includes everyone.”