Manchester-based competitive wheelchair dancing sensations Strictly Wheels have secured new sponsorship to help them pursue further international medal success.
Having just returned from the Dutch Open Championships where they won their third consecutive Gold medal in the Amateur Latin category, the duo of Gary Lyness and Paula Moulton have won the support of Preston’s Fish Insurance.
Fish, a disability insurance specialist, has agreed to sponsor the pair who are the UK’s most successful competitive wheelchair dancing couple. The duo, who are self-funding and reliant on sponsorship and donations, only took up the sport in 2010. After intensive and gruelling training under the watchful eye of trainer Ray Bulpitt, the following year they secured three titles secured in UK championships – including the Manchester Grand Prix – and Dutch and Malta Opens.
At this year’s Dutch Open they not only claimed their third consecutive Amateur Latin class Gold but took Silver in the Ballroom section. In addition fellow members of the Strictly Wheelchair Dancing club they run at Wythenshawe Lifestyle Centre scored highly in the contest’s Debutant sections.
Central to the sponsorship deal is provision of Fish’s specially designed disabled travel insurance which will be vital as the pair represent Great Britain across Europe and at the IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships in Brazil.
“We’re really grateful to Fish for providing what to us is sponsorship,” said Paula, 42, of Ardwick, who suffered nerve damage from the waist down having contracted pneumonia and then MRSA when she was 21. “Travel insurance which is designed specifically to protect people with disabilities will give give us both peace of mind when we compete abroad. It also helps reduce our overheads. This is really important not just to us, but the club, which is run as a charity. We also organise the Manchester Grand Prix which this year is set to attract competitors from at least 10 European nations and, because we need fly in international judges, is not cheap to host.
Gary, 40, a digital marketing specialist from Hulme, added: “Everything we do is dependent upon the goodwill of companies like Fish and our own fundraising efforts, whether it’s competing or organising a club which enables people with various disabilities to take part on an equal footing.”
Fish Insurance’s managing director, John Garrard, said he was delighted to offer the company’s support: “There is just so much to commend Strictly Wheels. Firstly, through their dedication and commitment they have enjoyed extraordinary success, becoming the first UK couple to secure top class status in wheelchair dancing and winning nearly a dozen medals at home and abroad. Secondly, through the charitable Strictly Wheelchair Dancing club, they are enabling people to take up, for fun or competition, a sport which really is open to all. People with all manner of disabilities can take part alongside able-bodied dancing partners.”