Anna Kennedy OBE – Last week Anna Kennedy, along with five other chosen ‘every day heroes,’ danced on the BBC’s People’s Strictly for Comic Relief. Anna with her professional dance partner Robin Windsor, danced a spectacular Charleston that received a standing ovation. They also managed a perfect score of 40 from the judges. Bruno Tonioli told Anna after they had danced,
“One word, three syllabus, fab-u-lous.”
Anna set up Hillingdon Manor school near London, in 1999, after her two sons, Patrick and Angelo were unable to access mainstream education. Patrick, 24 has Asperger’s syndrome and Angelo, 21 has Sensory Processing Condition and Autism. Anna had to remortgage her house in order to set up the school.
Since then she has opened a second school, a college, has founded her autism charity, Anna Kennedy Online and helps thousands of families affected by autism via her social networking sites, awareness campaigns and fundraisers such as Autism’s Got Talent and Wear it for Autism.
You can watch Anna and Robin’s fab-u-lous Charlston below.
The results were revealed on Fridays’ Comic Relief show, Show Me The Funny, staged at the London Palladium, and Anna sadly missed out wining the Strictly crown to deserving winner, ex Royal Marine medic, Cassidy Little who was injured in Afghanistan.
We got in touch with Anna over the weekend and asked her a few questions about her Strictly experience as well as congratulating her on her fantastic performance.
Can you tell me a little about the training schedule for strictly? How did you manage with being a busy mum and all the wonderful charity work that you do?
Training started in mid January with the Strictly Choreographer Jason and Robin Windsor. We started with one session of about 3 hours. I wanted to learn the dance all in one go . Robin was very impressed even though it was held together with safety pins. Training after that was sometimes twice a week, three times a week, with a max of 2 to 3 hours when Robin and I were free.
How long did it take you to learn that fantastic Charleston routine? I was out of breath just watching it. Your feet were moving so fast!
I am a quick learner, it was refining working in sync with Robin and facial expressions that I found really hard. Even the lifts were strange for me since I have never been lifted. I did gain a few bruises and pulled a muscle in my back which was painful, especially when I had spasms. BBC sent me to physio in Harley Street for a couple of sessions which really helped.
I think that the nation will now be more aware about autism from having watched your story on the show. At times it was extremely raw and emotional to watch. You told it how it is. What reaction to your story have you received from viewers of the show.
Reactions from the public have been so overwhelming, non stop messages of support. My social media has gone totally bonkers, so much so that after my score of 40, my retweet reach hit 5.2.million!!
I, along with the rest of the nation watched the results show from The Palladium. Can you tell us a little about this fantastic experience. Will you keep in touch with the other participants/celebrities?
I have had the BEST time and love dancing with Robin. I have discovered fun which I had forgotten what it was, since as a mum, campaigner, facilitator, Director etc, I am always so focused.
When you told viewers that you never have fun and that Strictly gave you fun, I understood what you meant. Will you now carry on dancing?
My fun is not over, Robin has asked me to dance with him at different venues starting next week in Camden and another at Regents Park in April, and he is performing with me at the Finale of Autism’s Got Talent. Details about Autism’s Got Talent, can be found at http://annakennedyonline.com/autisms-got-talent-2015/
We would very much like to thank Anna for all the work that she does in raising autism awareness, and hope that she now continues to have fun!