With a love of children and a passion for dance Lynda Cardwell has inspired hundreds of families.
The Cardwell Theatre School, based in Altrincham, has been nurturing young musical talent for more than four decades. From tiny tots to teenagers, former students regularly reach the dizzy heights of performing in West End Shows and classical ballet companies and running their own dance studios.
Urmston resident, grandmother and Principal Examiner for the I.D.T.A – International Dance Teachers Association, Lynda heard about Francis House from a parent of a pupil whose sister regularly used the hospice for respite care.
“The children that come to the theatre school are fortunate in so many ways and the children at Francis House face such enormous difficulties. I thought it was good for the pupils here to know about the hospice and to appreciate what other families face so we started the fundraising.”
For 18 years the theatre school has held an annual performance in aid of Francis House raising thousands of pounds.
Earlier this year in what Lynda, 63, describes as a ‘mad moment’ she decided to jump out of a plane in order to further boost support.
“I typed my plan to do a skydive into the theatre school newsletter which then committed me. I’m terrified of heights and not a great fan of flying but it seemed like a good idea. A great response came from the board of directors of the I.D.T.A – they really liked the idea of me jumping out of a plane and gave us £3,000.”
Lynda’s bravery has boosted the fundraising total to a staggering £106,000. Watched by her son Simon and his young family and other son Gary via mobile phone in Australia – daredevil Lynda made a perfect landing.
“I wasn’t nervous on the day. I think the theatrics took over as there was a camera and I thought I’d better smile. I loved it and wanted to do it again, but I woke up the next day and every part of my body was in agony – including my teeth!”
The family have had first-hand experience of the support of a hospice and Lynda’s late husband took part in social events and repairs around the theatre school.
“Tony was as passionate about raising money for Francis House through the school as I was – he supported it 100%. The thing with hospices is that everybody in that building just gets it. The other people know what you are going through, the staff understand you, people don’t talk in whispers and will give you a hug when you need it.”
Francis House fundraiser Kate Puc has attended every performance event since Lynda began her support.
“Kate is absolutely amazing at her job and makes everybody feel valued, 18 years later we are still here.”
If you would like to challenge yourself and raise funds for Francis House please click here and discover ways to get involved.