MEMBERS of an inclusive Somerset dance group took to Blackpool at the weekend to represent the South West in a prestigious national dance competition.

Taunton-based Megan’s Academy of Dance – known as MAD - took on numerous fundraising activities including a 24-hour danceathon in October, helping to raise more than £1,000 to get the dancers to Blackpool.

MAD founder Megan Rackham said: "I used to compete myself and decided that I wanted to become a teacher and give students the opportunities that I would have loved at their age.

"We have done a lot of fundraising, raising around £1,500 for costumes and travel and would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved.”

The 15 girls were awarded third place Nationwide Medallist of the Year up to 13 years Team at the International Dance Teachers’ Association’s Nationwide Medallist of the Year Freestyle and Rock ‘n’ Roll Finals.

Megan added: "The North and South East dominate the dancing world and it’s great that my students can put the South West on the map for its quality of dancing.

"Each year the North have taken home the trophy for freestyle. Achieving third place really helps us put the South back in the game and boost the confidence of all the girls involved.

"We are an inclusive school and one big family who support each other through everything.

"Dance has given these girls an opportunity to grow in confidence and make new friends in a friendly environment. It is their outlet from the day-to-day life.

Team member Olivia Eldridge said: "We are all a family together, it is not just a dance group that you go to, we are best friends."

The people of Taunton will have the opportunity to see MAD dancers in action when they perform at the town's Christmas lights switch on on Sunday, November 24.

For more information about MAD, contact Megan on 01823-618133 or follow the Facebook page