Dancer with Down's Syndrome grooves for 10 hours to say thank you to charity

  • Our reporter, Jonathan Brown, joined Francis as he began his dance-a-thon.

A dance fanatic is busting moves for 10 hours straight today, to say a special thank you to a Leeds support charity.

Francis Henry - who has Down's Syndrome - was hoping to raise a thousand pounds in aid of Sunshine and Smiles as it marks a decade as a charity. So far, he has raised more than £1,200.

The charity was set up by parents and provides support to over 120 children and young people who have Down syndrome, and their families.

Francis has been dancing from a young age and has performed at venues across the country, including the Northern Ballet in Leeds and the National Theatre in London.

He has trained in acting, singing, hip-hop and street dance. In 2019, his dancing won Leeds Got Talent.

This year Francis successfully auditioned to join the National Youth Dance Company and will be touring with their production next year.

Francis also works as a trained barista at Sunshine & Smiles' café & shop, 21 Co in Headingley, which is run for and by people with Down syndrome to offer training and work experience with the aim of creating job opportunities. 

He said: “Sunshine & Smiles means the world to me and my family. They have shown us so much love and support over the years that I wanted to do something to help them achieve their £10,000 fundraising target on their 10th birthday.”

 Ailith Harley Roberts, from Sunshine & Smiles said: “We are so grateful to Francis for taking on this challenge.

"The funds raised will go directly towards supporting children and young people with Down syndrome and their families; whether that’s Speech & Language sessions, transport for families, or paying our trained staff to support families or help our young adults into training and work."