A GENEROUS dance academy has been praised after helping to raise almost £100,000 over three decades in memory of a tragic youngster.
Every year the Elwick Academy of Dance stages a Christmas pantomime with all of the proceeds going to the Victoria Appleton Leukaemia Fund.
The youngster’s life was cut tragically short in 1980 at the age of just three after being diagnosed with the disease.
This year’s show, the Snow Queen, which was performed at the Town Hall Theatre, helped raise £2,500 bringing the total raised since 1981 to an impressive £93,440.
The money has been sent to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and will go towards buying specialist equipment in the haematology unit.
Victoria’s mum Joyce Appleton, 63, said: “We would like to say a very big thank you to Geoff Lucas and his Elwick Academy for once again putting on another great pantomime in the Town Hall Theatre.
“Thanks to all the pupils and cast that took part in the show and to everybody that came to help at the theatre.
“Also we would like to thank the audiences that came along to watch the show and give their support to the Victoria Appleton Leukaemia Fund,” added the retired retail manager.
Victoria (pictured left) a former member of Elwick Dance Academy, died on July 11, 1980.
The youngster had been feeling unwell and was taken into hospital in Hartlepool where she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and rushed to Middlesbrough General.
But she tragically passed away the following day.
Mrs Appleton, who lives in Belmont Gardens, is married to Dave, 64, and the pair have two other children, Louise Appleton, 40 and David Appleton, 37.
The 63-year-old thanked those who donated raffle prizes and businesses for advertising in the programme and also paid tribute to Freda Compton, who founded the Elwick Academy of Dance in 1949.
Mrs Appleton said: “We really do appreciate everybody for supporting the memory of our daughter.
“The show is a lovely way to keep her memory alive.
“The amount of support we have received over the years has been unbelievable and I just hope it continues.
“Victoria would have loved to have taken part in the pantomime.
“She was fun, cheeky and loved dancing.”
Geoff Lucas, co-principal of the Elwick Academy Dance, said: “It is a great cause and something we enjoy doing every year.
“The overheads are getting more and more expensive, but we try to give as much as we can.
“This is something we believe in.
“The show itself was a big success and we received some really good feedback.”
The Snow Queen was the academy’s 63rd pantomime and the ages of the performers range from just two to people into their fifties.