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30 Jan 2014

An aspiring dance student who has devoted a huge amount of his spare time to working with disabled dance artists, will graduate from the University of Chester this week.
Through the University’s volunteering scheme, Lewis Barber, 21 who studied on the BA Dance programme, recorded over 965 hours spent working with various dance groups in the region that support disabled artists.
Lewis Barber 
Lewis who regularly works with DanceSyndrome, based in Manchester, was selected to perform with the group on BBC’s One Show, alongside comedienne Miranda Hart as part of ‘Miranda’s Mad March Challenge’ for Comic Relief. Strictly Come Dancing professionals, Pasha Kovalev and Katya Virshilas also took part in the performance which was broadcast live on BBC One earlier this year.
Lewis, from Walsall, said: “It was a very proud moment for DanceSyndrome, and one which I won’t forget. We had a great day and Miranda was lovely to work with and really enjoyed watching us dance.
“I don’t see the work that I do with community dance groups as anything special, it’s just what I enjoy doing. I love the fact that I’m helping people to benefit from my skills and knowledge, while I’m gaining experience in an area that I may choose to have a career in the future.
“Through volunteering I’ve made lifelong friendships with people who haven’t had the easiest of lives and often they are looked down upon by society, but they have the biggest hearts and have a lot to give to the world. I am so glad that I’ve met all of the people that I’ve volunteered with, some of whom are now my closest friends.
“The best thing about volunteering is that the companies that I have worked for are always so thankful for my time, effort and support. I find this very rewarding.
“I am thankful to the University of Chester for allowing me to grow academically, professionally and personally by presenting me with ways to achieve my ambitions.”
Becky Maitland-Titterton, Volunteer Co-ordinator at the University said: “Lewis is one of our real unsung heroes and has quietly continued to volunteer throughout his time at University without seeking praise or attention. His modesty is surpassed only by his sincere altruism and passion for the charities with which he volunteers. Lewis’ actions are a prime example of the selflessness young people possess and it has been a real pleasure to hear about his endeavours and achievements. Lewis has inspired and touched the hearts of many individuals through his volunteer work and I have no doubt he will continue to do so for many years to come.”
Lewis is currently studying a Dance Performance Master’s degree in Chichester and working with Mapdance, the University of Chichester’s MA student performance company. He hopes to tour with the company next year before deciding on which career path to follow.