Zumba dancers will get in step to help brave Hartlepool girl Poppy

Andrea Douglas, front, with fitness coaches Sarah Major and Jean Walsh. Pictured below are Kirby and Poppy.
Andrea Douglas, front, with fitness coaches Sarah Major and Jean Walsh. Pictured below are Kirby and Poppy.

Dance fans are putting themselves to the test to help a little Hartlepool girl get a life-changing operation.

A mass Zumbathon, featuring six hours of dancing and up to 250 people, will swing into action at Jackson’s Landing on Sunday, September 6.

Poppy Wilkinson with her mum Kirby Hackworth.

Poppy Wilkinson with her mum Kirby Hackworth.

And it’s all happening to help battling Poppy Wilkinson, four, who was born with no left foot, and no toes on her right foot, after problems developed during her mum Kirby Hackworth’s pregnancy.

A fundraising campaign called Poppy’s Appeal has been launched so Poppy can have a private operation in the future, and so that she does not have to spend long periods in a wheelchair.

The latest charity event to raise money for the appeal has been organised by Andrea Douglas - a studio co-ordinator at Lifestyle Fitness in Hartlepool and a friend of Poppy’s family.

She said: “Hopefully we will get a maximum of 250 people doing everything from salsa to Latina.”

It is amazing. When we first set up the appeal, I didn’t think many people would support it but lots of people have. Andrea is a family friend and I am over the moon that she is doing this

Kirby Hackworth, mum of Poppy Wilkinson

The mega dance session starts at noon on September 6 and lasts until 6pm with a series of instructors including Andrea leading the way.

People can take part in the event for £5 and can register by downloading the form from the Lifestyle Fitness website, or registering on the day.

But organisers are hoping people will also get themselves sponsored and raise even more money. Andrea added: “We are hoping we can raise about £2,000.”

The day’s fun will also include rides and stalls.

Poppy was born premature at just 24 weeks, weighing just 1lb 10oz.

She also suffered a string of other conditions, including chronic lung disease and a heart murmur, and had to have blood transfusions.

Kirby, who is studying to be a neo-natal nurse, praised everyone who is fundraising for her daughter and said: “It is amazing. When we first set up the appeal, I didn’t think many people would support it but lots of people have.

“Andrea is a family friend and I am over the moon that she is doing this.”

As Poppy develops, the bones in her left foot grow and start to perforate through her limb, leaving her in pain.

Poppy will need numerous bone reversal operations, where surgeons shave away the bone, as she grows.

Her family don’t want her facing long periods in a wheelchair unable to wear her prosthetic foot, while waiting for surgery.

Kirby, 23, of Allerton Close, said she does not want Poppy’s self-esteem to suffer as she gets older.

Numerous fundraising events have been held for Poppy. Her dad Paul Wilkinson, 28, was one of a number of people who did a Coast to Coast bike ride to raise funds.

Anyone wishing to support Poppy can visit www.gofundme.com/6imtr0