Toddler dancers from across the UK have raised more than £1 million for pregnancy charity Tommy’s, in an incredible fundraising effort to support research into the causes of, and treatment to prevent, baby loss.
Over 3 Danceathons in 2016, ‘18 and ‘22, babyballet® dance schools in Scotland, England and Wales have raised a staggering £1,120,057 for Tommy’s.
Danceathon sees babyballet® stars sponsored by friends and family to wear their brightest, most colourful clothes, and embark on a magical dancing quest to find the missing colours in their regular babyballet® class. Every little one who gets involved is rewarded with certificates and prizes.
The money they raise goes a huge way in helping fund Tommy’s research into pregnancy complications, as well as the charity’s support and advice resources for parents, including a midwife-led phone and email helpline.
At the most recent Danceathon which started in October 2022, babyballet® stars aged 6 months to 6 years raised a total of £319,319. The theme for this year’s event was ‘dancing for a brighter future to help save babies’ lives’. 1,500 classes took place across this year’s Danceathon week.
Tommy’s – the UK’s largest charity funding pregnancy research and providing support and care for parents – believes that losing a baby should never be ‘just one of those things’ and is working tirelessly to reduce the UK’s unacceptable rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.
The total raised across all 3 Danceathons is enough to fund a research centre such as the Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research for 3 whole years.
Nicky Butcher, Head of Community Events and Engagement at Tommy’s, says:
“Everyone at babyballet® is so committed to helping us in our mission to save babies’ lives and improve care and support for families at every stage of the pregnancy journey. We’re so grateful for the vital funds raised for Tommy’s.”
Earlier this month babyballet®’s Managing Director Lucy Crabtree, babyballet® Founder Claire O’Connor, and representatives from Tommy’s visited the Bournemouth class to mark the end of the most recent run of Danceathons and to celebrate passing the £1m milestone.
Claire Woodford, aka Miss Claire, who leads Bournemouth and Poole babyballet® says:
“I am so proud and humbled to be in partnership with Tommy’s charity. Knowing that the money we raise is helping so many families around the country makes me hugely proud of what we have achieved. It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible all our babyballet® stars are. Together we are ALL dancing for a brighter future.”
babyballet® star Lily-Rose was a top fundraiser in the most recent Tommy’s Danceathon. Her mum Nicola was diagnosed with a liver condition during pregnancy which put her at high risk of stillbirth or premature birth.
Nicola explains why supporting Tommy’s means so much to her family:
“After my own experience, pregnancy healthcare is something I feel incredibly strongly about. Especially for those women who are more vulnerable as even for the most well educated and privileged, it is still extremely difficult to advocate for yourself as a pregnant woman. There is no excuse for preventable baby loss in a country like the UK and I think the work Tommy’s do is absolutely amazing.
“We are very proud of Lily-Rose and all of her dance friends and the rest of the babyballet®️ group for the massive sum they raised. We know it will be put to good use.”
Michelle Thomas runs the Bury and Bolton babyballet®️ franchise. Michelle was devastated when her first baby Jakob was stillborn at 41 weeks. As a toddler her son Isaak took part in the first danceathon in 2016.
“It is a privilege to be partnered with Tommy’s because every time we raise funds for families who need support after the loss of a baby, I get to feel their hope and celebrate their rainbows right along with them.”