Sparkling for the TV cameras

August 29 2018
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Wells resident Tina Blackwill explains how her love of pom pom dancing has given her a starring role on TV

BACK in March of this year I was lying in bed suffering with pneumonia watching BBC Inside Out West, and at the end presenter Seb Choudhury asked for viewers to contact them if they had any stories that may be of interest. I immediately messaged Seb telling him all about my wonderful pom pom dance classes. 

Before I knew it I was chatting to a producer about all the things I do. I think she found my story interesting as I’d gone from making wedding cakes to teaching pom pom dance classes. I think she loved that I also dabble in a bit of baton twirling here and there, and that I’m super bubbly and lots of fun.

The producer, Jenny Walmsley, was keen to know what my clients get from my classes. It’s been proven that regular exercise can help in reducing the symptoms of dementia.

My classes help with movement, co-ordination, memory, staying supple and fitness. They are very uplifting as I use extremely upbeat music, wear glitter on my face and use bright pink sparkly pom poms. They love it.

The first part of the filming featured my regular class at Torrwood Care Centre in Wells; as usual all of the residents were amazing and really enjoyed the filming. The BBC had then set me a challenge. They had arranged for me to take a new class at the Happy Days cafe for people with dementia and their carers in Bristol. My challenge was to teach them a routine that could then be performed at The Galleries shopping centre in Bristol three days later.

The day came for me to perform. It was the fifth birthday party of Bristol Dementia Action Alliance which campaigns to make the city dementia friendly. There were also lots of other groups there who joined in. Bristol actor Joe Sims from Broadchurch was there to introduce the whole event and he then helped me with my performance, which ended with him picking me up and spinning me round. We filmed in different parts of The Galleries starting with me dancing on the escalators... which of course I loved.

I enjoyed every single minute of the filming process and adore being in front of the camera. I feel so honoured to do the job I do and love that I make people smile every day.

• The film featuring Tina and her pom poms is due to be shown on BBC Inside Out West on Monday, September 10, at 7.30pm on BBC One in the West. It will be available afterwards for 30 days on the BBC iPlayer. Tina will also be on Steve Yabsley’s Radio Bristol show on Monday, September 3, at 12.30pm.