A former Fylde coast teacher is appealing for support to help a talented dancer realise her dreams at an international competition.
Pat Williams, who taught at Fleetwood High School for 16 years, is fund-raising to offer 14-year-old Ndina Simon the chance to compete in the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles later this month.
The 64-year-old lived in Layton before moving to Namibia to volunteer as a regional special needs coordinator with Voluntary Service Overseas in 1997, where her and Ndina’s paths crossed.
Pat said: “It was while working in Khorixas - a small remote desert town in the north west of the country - that I became friends with Ndina’s grandmother Loidie Okazie, who had fled in exile aged just 11 and had only returned to Namibia the same year I arrived.
“Our friendship grew in strength and in 2005, I offered to pay for Ndina to attend school in the country’s capital rather than in a rural school.
“Not only was Loidie her grandmother, she was also the primary and only care giver of Ndina.
“So when Loidie died in 2008, I took over the parental responsibilities for Ndina, who was then aged six.”
Now aged 14, Ndina has worked hard at school and dedicated every spare moment of her time to her love of performing arts.
Ndina, who visited Blackpool last year to stay with Pat’s family and friends, is a member of the Namibian rhythmic gymnastic team – training at Junior Olympic Level with hopes of attending the Junior Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018.
Pat added: “She has never trained professionally but just loves to dance and listen to music, often making her own music and choreography.
“It was her drama and music teacher at Windhoek International School who suggested she enter a national Namibian Performing Arts competition as a dancer in 2015.
“Following on from her win there she was invited to the Regional Performing Arts Competition in South Africa to compete with dancers from all over Southern Africa.
“It was a pleasant surprise when she came away with a gold and silver medal, which allowed her to represent Team Namibia in hip hop dancing at the World Championships of Performing Arts.”
Pat could not afford the Los Angeles trip – which could cost approximately £11,000 – in 2016 so the organisers deferred Ndina’s place to 2017, to give them time to find some sponsors and funding.
Pat, who has put off her retirement plans to support Ndina’s dreams, added: “The trip and competition are very expensive, which the Namibian Government cannot afford so participants have to fund themselves if they want to compete for their country.
“Ndina has worked hard to be successful.
“We are still in the process of fund-raising now and would be grateful for any support.”
To support Ndina’s trip, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpingNdina.