Wheelchair Dancing

Introduction from Michael Turner (History Department)

"Wheelchair dancing began over 25 years ago at Dame Evelyn Fox school in Blackburn which was eventually closed and replaced by Newfield. It was part of the Stonyhurst Voluntary Service programme on Wednesday afternoons and was led by Heather Davies and myself.

Initially, it consisted of a kind of line dancing where College pupils would push their partners around in wheelchairs to Country and Western music, which evolved into more theme-based sounds and some pretty complicated moves, where there would be dances to music from different countries or songs about food or travel.

Over time, the pupils would develop strong relationships with their partners, having the same one each week, and it was a pleasure to see the level of communication that was possible through sharing the experience of dancing and the beaming smiles on both sides. Furthermore, for many years, several of the children from Newfield would come and stay at the annual Children’s Holiday Week which was run at St Mary's Hall.

Since the Arrupe programme began, Wheelchair Dancing has now moved to Thursday afternoons and more of our pupils than ever have been able to attend.

What is most notable to me about the nature of ‘service’ of this kind is that pupils often begin with the attitude of thinking about what they can do for the children at Newfield, but they invariably come away with a great appreciation of what the Newfield children have done for them."

Pupil reflections

I didn't know what to expect, however, the sense of purpose and joy you get out of it by seeing how you have given the children something that day - whether that is a single smile or a sense of involvement - is amazing


We are taught to be 'men and women for others'. By taking part in wheelchair dancing, we are giving our time to make the lives of many others a bit happier. It also makes us happier, seeing how much joy we can bring people in the world

A Poet

I got along with my partner really well. I saw how something that was so easy for me could bring so much happiness. It gave me a feeling of purpose

A Poet

It felt good to make the children happy. I think it changed my view of other people to the extent that I realised that everyone in society should be supported equally

A Poet

It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, as I wasn’t accustomed to doing things like that, but I’m glad I was able to challenge myself and work into becoming more comfortable in that situation


I have definitely learnt to show affection for other people and to support them. It gave me a wonderful experience, which I won't easily forget

A Poet

Staff reflection from Mrs Rebecca Davies (RS department)

Wheelchair dancing has given me the greatest joy. Whatever life is throwing at you, for that hour at Newfield, all is right with the world and my heart is happy. The joy and pleasure of the children may not always be obvious, but getting that smile or squeal of excitement is absolutely wonderful.

The staff at Newfield are exceptional and relentless in their drive to give the children in their care the very best learning and experiences and I have felt privileged to play a small part in that. We get so much more than we give, and for this I will always be grateful.

I have lifelong memories that will stay with me and remind me when times may be difficult that the simplest of pleasures really can be found in music, dancing and a 20-foot parachute! The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ will forever remind me of my inability to do-si-do, but it never really mattered, as getting it wrong was all part of the fun.


If you would like to learn more about the Chaplaincy programme or our Catholic and Jesuit identity, please contact our Admissions team. Alternatively, we would be delighted to welcome you and your family to Stonyhurst College at an open event or as a private visit to get a real feel for life here as a day pupil or boarder.

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