Foreground, from left: Zumba instructor Ellena Brooks, fund-raiser Sarah Hughes

 and charity founder Clare Duran are joined by fellow Zumba dancers celebrating

 the success of their fancy dress Zumbathon.


A tropical flavour, featuring Pirates of the Caribbean, hula-hula skirts and desert-island garlands, was among themes chosen by members of the Zumba classes at Welwyn Civic Centre when they staged a fund-raising fancy-dress night.

 The Zumbathon raised around £360 for the St Albans-based Elisa Educational Trust, which is supporting a nursery at La Calera in Chile, providing free education to disadvantaged children and help for local orphans.

 The event was initiated by Sarah Hughes, who has regularly attended Zumba classes at Welwyn since they were started by local instructor Ellena Brooks last autumn. Sarah works for the Elisa Nursing Care agency as a carer for the elderly and disabled in St Albans and surrounding areas, and also does administration duties at its Sandridge office.

 In addition to sponsorship pledges and donations from around 60 dancers who attended, the charity total was boosted by class instructor Ellena, who contributed £1 out of every £5 subscription she received.

 Ellena, who runs weekly Zumba sessions at Welwyn; Oaklands Primary School on Great North Road, and St John’s Junior School in Lemsford, said: “The success was down to the dedication and enthusiasm of ourZumba supporters, who always give their maximum effort.”

 Also attending the event were Clare Duran, who with her Chilean husband founded the St Albans-based charity in 2004, and trustee Ben Elvidge.

“I thought this would be a fun way to help the charity’s fund-raising efforts,” said Sarah, 22, who lives in Brocket Close, Welwyn Garden City. “We had a great night and the result was brilliant – thanks to the generosity of all those who took part.”

Sarah said: “I joined Ellena’s classes right from the beginning and I’ve not missed a week since, except for holidays. I find it very motivational and a really feel-good way to keep fit.”

Ellena’s classes regularly attract men and women of all ages, from teenagers to pensioners. To meet growing demand, she now runs four regular Zumba sessions – at Welwyn Civic Centre on Mondays and Tuesdays, at Oaklands Primary School on Wednesdays, and at St John’s Junior School in Lemsford on Thursdays.


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