Coventry Moves dance classes breathing new lease of life into residents at retired living scheme

Dancing classes being run through CV Life’s Coventry Moves project are breathing a new lease of life into residents at a retirement living scheme in the city.

Marsh House in Walsrave is home to dozens of residents, many of whom are put through their paces with some gentle dance exercise every Thursday.

Leading the classes is Ryan ‘Token’ Stilwell, a former reality TV contestant who appeared in groups on shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and the X Factor.

Token, as he is affectionately known to residents, is a huge hit thanks to his energy and infectious approach to classes.

The day has now become known as The Thursday Club, where residents get together, have some tea and cake, have a natter, before getting down to some moves led by Token.

One resident, Eve, who is 91, said: “It’s nice to see everyone each Thursday, I really look forward to it. We have a lovely time.

“And we love Token – his attitude, he’s friendly, he’s just so lovely.”

Discussing Coventry Moves, Eve added: “The project brightens this place up so much. Especially after Covid when we were all in our rooms

“I’ve made so many good friendships through the activities, we all help each other out, we’re  like a family.”

Wendy Jackson, CV Life Community Development Manager, said: “Coventry Moves has brought people together- we facilitate the activities but the residents really enable it with their  enthusiasm and ideas – they will also tell us if they don’t like something!

“They recently watched the Coronation, which they wanted to do together, but as there was no communal TV they’d have all been in their room, watching alone.

“So we funded a TV and they all got together and had a party to mark the occasion. But these sort of things weren’t happening before, and the fact it is now is testament to how everyone has started engaging.

“Token is a breakdancer originally and they embrace that, they don’t turn their nose up at it. They’re so welcoming but not just to people coming in, it’s created friendships and a lot of the residents are like family to each other.”

Eve recently won an award at Dave Morecroft’s CommunityWealth Games for her role in a charity drive before Christmas.

She organised between herself and residents to fill shoe boxes with festive essentials for Coventry families who would have otherwise gone without. Eve also arranged for donations to be made to CV Life’s Cosy Corner project through winter.

Eve said: “Lots of people were going without so we put a sign up in the common room asking for donations so we could fill these boxes. Everyone got involved and gave items which was fantastic. People came together. It was amazing to be part of, it was lovely.”

Well done Eve, Token, everyone at Marsh House and the Coventry Moves project.