Jill Streatfield started the Otley Adult Tap Dancing classes with the support of the Fit Villages project at Active Suffolk over four years, where it has continued to go from strength to strength. Her classes have grown over the years and those that attended from the very beginning have continued to this day. Jill now delivers tap dancing in Grudisburgh and Ufford too!
When the lockdown restrictions were put in place, Jill worked hard to ensure her members continued to seek the support, activity and community connection they were used to! She set up free online zoom classes open to all, where she would regularly attract 15-20 participants. She also set up a WhatsApp group and a regular newsletter to ensure everyone was well connected. Eventually, Jill also set up a weekly online coffee morning to help the connection between members from across the county to grow.
Jill shared inspirational videos and offered additional practice clips which she shared with the group. One member said:
"Before lockdown, I would only practice at home for a performance. Now, I practice most days, perfecting steps, recapping dances we've done in the past."
Jill's support continued for 20 weeks during lockdown until eventually she was able to offer socially distanced sessions outside. She has worked within the local community to set up outdoor tap dance classes from the White Hart pub in Oltey.
Jill is described by those who nominated her as "truly amazing, dedicated, inspirational and patient. Jill's efforts have not only helped to keep her members active, but she has also helped reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness amongst her members, many of which are widowed or single older ladies that live alone. She has helped to connect those that would regularly meet for lessons, as well as introducing them to members from other classes across the county.
One member said:
"Many of the tap class members are single ladies who have been in lockdown alone (me being one of them) and we are also not in our prime. Our generation is often forgotten with much attention and time given to the young of society. The weekly dance with music and supporting each other is hard to value anytime, and especially since March. We have all forged new friendships through this group and given invaluable support to each other."
Another told us:
"It was lovely to have a support network, being able to share the highs and lows of lockdown. The classes were a lifeline too, not just to keep fit but to keep in touch with everyone. The Tap Chat was great for us all to keep each other going, especially those who could not join the class and those who live on their own. Just knowing that there is a group of people for you at any time meant so much to us all."
Well done to Jill for bringing a community of people together and keeping them active during an extremely challenging time. It is clear to see why you have been nominated as a Lockdown Activity Hero!