A dedicated group of community volunteers in Ribbleton are hoping to dance their way through a year of success and build on the legacy left by one of their mentors after receiving a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
Groups based out of the Sion Park Community Hub are hoping to bring together wannabe stars of the local estates with a new series of dance and drama classes led by some of Preston’s leading performing arts coaches including professional actress and founder of meladrama acting agency Melanie Ash.
The community project is led by the Ray of Sunshine group with the support of community empowerment team at Community Gateway Association.
Earlier this month the group opened the hub for a a special family fun day to promote the latest workshops at the hub in Longridge Road.
Longtime volunteer Teresa Gettins says: “It really is a wonderful facility for the neighbourhood and we really want our local community to embrace it, get more involved and take advantage of the activities we have, especially for the children.
His belief in community spirit was just incredible and he was the most remarkable man.
“The fun day really was a lovely day, the weather meant we had to swap things round a little but the hub was packed and everyone had a wonderful time.
“Fundraisers like the fun day are vital to help us keep things going but volunteers are just as important.”
The voluntary group Ray of Sunshine was born in memory of community champion Ray Langlands, from Moor Nook, who dedicated much of his life to improving the lives of disadvantaged youngsters and people in and around Ribbleton.
Dad-of-four and grandfather Ray died in December, 2016
“His belief in community spirit was just incredible and he was the most remarkable man, adds Teresa.
“Many of the community groups in the area were because of Ray.
“He used to always call the children ‘sunshine’ and was constantly striving to put some sunshine into their lives.
“We volunteers are spurred on by his ethos and his drive and are determined to keep his memory alive for future generations to live by.”
The new series of dance and drama classes were launched in January and will run initially for 12 months.
Teresa says there are spaces available for more youngsters to take advantage.
The dance classes are held on a Monday evening between 5.30pm and 6.30pm for those aged four to seven years and all those eight plus the workshop is 6.30pm to 7.30pm.
There is a weekly fee of £3.
Melanie from Preston is known for her roles in Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Casualty and set up her acting agency Meladrama in 1995.
Passionate for supporting and nurturing young talent,she was very keen to work with Ray of Sunshine and is now running drama sessions from the hub every Thursday. There are three workshops at 4.15pm, 5pm and 6pm
Teresa says: “Mel has a wealth of experience in working with vulnerable adults and children and we are so thrilled to have her involved
“The kids we have are getting so much out of the dance and drama classes and to see how they’re coming on and the smiles on their faces after an hour - it really makes it all worthwhile.
“We are so lucky to be able to have these opportunities, somewhere for the children to go, so we just want the community to reap the benefits of it.”
“There was never anything like this when we were growing up and there’s a lot said these days about affordable activities for children, especially in this community so I would just love for people to make the most of this. It is a great joy to be involved in the hub.”
To find out more about the hub and Ray odf Sunshine visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/sionhub or call Teresa 07719633792