By day I’m a teacher-educator (which means I train teachers) living in London. The rest of the time I don a tutu and prance out there in public – using my freedom (expressed through quirky dance challenges) to raise funds to help tackle the poverty and persecution that limit that of others.
But how did I get to this point? This film does a pretty good job of summarising everything up to my first ‘Free to Dance’ campaign back in 2010:
Edited Life Highlights
- In 2017 I underwent surgery for an unknown knee problem. It spurred me into wanting to dance again – who knows how long we’ll have left to do the things we love?
- Between 2014 and 2016 I became Subject Leader for the Citizenship PGCE at the UCL Institute of Education, got injured a lot, fell in love, bought my first house and got engaged to be married.
- In 2013 I reached Land’s End after dancing the full length of Britain from John o’Groats – 1,350 miles of dancing interrupted only after being run down by a drunk driver 200 miles from the finish. In total we raised more than £100,000 for a range of charities working to make Burma freer and fairer – including the Burma Campaign UK, Amnesty International, Partner’s Relief and Development and Prospect Burma.
- 2011 saw me I danced the world’s longest ever dance at The Scoop in central London – 5 days, 15 hours of non-stop dancing. 7000 people came along to dance with me and much fun was had (despite the pain).
- Prior to that, in the same year I became the first person to dance every step of the London Marathon.
- In 2010 I found out that one of my best friends from my time working in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border had died. I quit my job to set up a charity (LearnBurma) to raise awareness of Burma among young people in the UK. This led to me using dance as a means to symbolise the freedom we have but which is denied to so many worldwide. I also began working part-time as a tutor on the Citizenship PGCE at the UCL Institute of Education.
- In 2007 my teaching was rate outstanding by OFSTED when they came to inspect the school. That was nice of them, and very lucky on my part – they happened to come to my class during a particularly good 20 minutes featuring a filmed lesson introduction, voting pods, a class simulation of The Weakest Link and lots of ice cream.
- In 2006 I got myself my first ‘proper job’. I began working as a Citizenship teacher at an inner-city comprehensive called Deptford Green School.
- In 2005/06 I returned and became a qualified teacher in London. During my training year I organised a 100-mile charity walk through the night with my good friends Ian and Aimee. We called it ‘Nightstrider’ – and it reminded me of my love of physical challenge.
- After deciding teaching was the career for me, in 2004/5 I spent a year working as a teacher in Mae La Oon refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border.
- I hung around in Norwich for a couple of years afterwards – working in a convenience store, becoming a baker in a supermarket, living on a boat on the Norfolk Broads and co-ordinating a university campaign to promote Fairtrade throughout Norwich using (wait for it) dance – called the Fairtrade Funkathon.
- I studied an MA in Development Studies at the University of East Anglia in 2000/01 after spending a year raising awareness of Fairtrade among schools across Wiltshire.
- I went to the University of Durham from 1997 to 2000 and secured a first in BA Sport in the Community. I initially wanted to become famous through being really good at a sport, and use my fame to change the world. Unfortunately I wasn’t that good. In the first year I donated my student loan to help pay for that street children’s centre – I was ridden with a lot of guilt about that fashion show.
- I took a year out in 1997 to retake those A-levels, raise funds for a Romanian street children’ centre and travel back out to Romania. The fundraising didn’t go well – I organised a fashion show which never materialised and I lost a lot of my own money. It’s a failure that’s motivated me ever since.
- In the summer of 1996 I cycled from John o’Groats to Land’s End in 10 days, unsupported, to raise further funds for Romania. Despite forgetting my walkman and having to sing to myself to make it up the hills, I had discovered a love of challenge and adventure.
- I became the equivalent of Head Boy at my secondary school in 1996. I messed up my A-levels that year through a combination of (thinking I was) falling in love and the social and self-esteem effects of really bad acne.
- In 1995 I travelled out to Romania with a group of sixth form students and our school. We collected donations from our local community and drove out there. It was my first experience of seeing people in real need.
- In 1991 I moved from Newport Pagnell in Milton Keynes to Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. It helped to get rid of some of my shyness.
- On discovering the plight of the tropical rainforests in the late eighties, at my middle school I helped to co-ordinate a fundraising campaign to protect 40 acres of Belizian rainforest. I loved every minute of working for a cause I believed in.
- For my seventh birthday I held a penguin party where attendees (and my dad) had to dress up as penguins. I liked dressing up.
- I wanted (and received) a wheelbarrow for my fourth birthday. I was always an outdoors kind of person.