Published: 14:19, 19 November 2020
| Updated: 14:29, 19 November 2020
A dance school which kept twinkle-toed toddlers occupied online during the first lockdown has scooped a national award.
The Babyballet franchise in Dartford has been named among the most loved music, dance or performing arts activities in the UK.
It scooped the major accolade at the What's On 4 Kids Activities Awards, launched in 2007, to celebrate the best kids clubs, along with leaders and volunteers.
Awards are nominated and voted for by a panel of experts, parents and carers and the results were unveiled as part of a virtual ceremony held last month.
Keeping little ones occupied during the first lockdown in March was a struggle for many parents as activities became increasingly home-based.
But the dance school, which is targeted at toddlers and babies from six months upwards and also serves Bexley and Bromley, kept classes running online and delivered with aplomb.
"This year has been without doubt the toughest in my businesses history," says Jessie Lilley, owner of Babyballet Dartford, Bexley, Bromley.
The 39-year-old, who grew up in the area, continued: “But that goes for every company in every industry. My team and I moved our classes online during the first lockdown, so that we could continue teaching our 1000 plus babyballet stars to dance.
"Keeping them happy and active was my main priority!”
On top of this feat there was also an individual accolade for one of the ballet school's much loved teachers.
Baby ballet instructor Jade Allen, who has taught at the school for six years, was voted the most loved activity leader manager in the South East.
Affectionately known to the the children as Miss Jade, the teacher was overwhelmed to become a winner.
“The South East is a big place, and I am bursting with pride to have won," said Jade.
"The team at babyballet Dartford, Bexley and Bromley are like family to me and I adore teaching the classes.
"I can’t wait to get back into the dance studio and see my little stars, with social distancing measures in place to keep them all safe.”
Although the dance classes are closed during the second lockdown, registrations are open for future face-to-face sessions.
“We have returned once and the magic of our classes remained, even with the new safety procedures in place," added owner Jessie.
"I am counting down the days until I can open the doors again."
The franchise is headquartered in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and has 83 locations across the UK.
To find out more information about the classes on offer click here.