A BIRKENHEAD store manager is using her Zumba moves to support a good friend and raise money for the charity which helped her fight leukaemia when she was a teenager.
For the past four years 41-year-old Sarah Hastie, who heads the sales team at Trespass in Pyramids Shopping Centre, Birkenhead, has been mad keen on Zumba, the Latin-inspired dance fitness programme which is now sweeping the world.
Its hectic workouts have helped her to shed an amazing ten and a half stone and she’s become such an enthusiast that she recently qualified as an instructor to host her own weekly class.
Sarah is now putting her expertise to good use by helping to lead a big charity Zumbathon organised by close friend and fellow Zumba fan Kesiena Ovien in aid of CHICS – the Children’s Cancer Support Group.
The charity supports families going through cancer and helped Kesiena during her own battle with leukaemia when she was in her teens. The charity zumbathon is being sponsored by the Liverpool-based Hampson Hughes Solicitors where Kesiena works as a trainee solicitor.
Sarah, who lives in Knowsley Village, Liverpool, explained that she originally took up Zumba as a way of getting fit as her 40th birthday approached.
She said: “I’d always been fairly large and when I reached the age of 37 I weighed 19 stones.
“I decided it was time to do something about it, so I started on a healthy eating programme and also looked around for some sort of exercise I could do.
“I heard about the Zumba class at my local village hall and took myself down there. I just loved it and haven’t looked back since.
“In the past four years I’ve been doing Zumba I’ve lost ten and a half stones and now weigh about eight and a half stones.
“When I started doing Zumba I was a bit self-conscious but within a few weeks I’d moved from the back of the class to the front.
“It’s so empowering and it doesn’t matter what you look like, how old you are or whether you’re male or female.
“We do it to all sorts of dance styles like flamenco, salsa and street and it’s very exciting. Some people call it exercise in disguise. It’s also such a laugh to take part in.
“Both my daughters, Courtney, who is 16, and Erin, who is 12, both love Zumba as much as I do.”
Sarah, who has been with Trespass for seven years and has managed the Pyramids store for the past six months, added: “I wanted to pass the enjoyment and benefits on to others, so I trained as a Zumba instructor and now have my own group which meets in Prescott on Merseyside every week and attracts about 20 people, both men and women.
“I’ve also done quite a few Zumbathons in aid of various charities over the past few years, including Comic Relief a couple of times.
“It was at the Comic Relief event last year that I first met my friend Kesiena Ovien. She had leukaemia when she was younger and is just an amazing person.
“She’s training to be a solicitor with a Hampson Hughes Solicitors, who are sponsoring the event, and has qualified as a Zumba instructor herself.
“Kesiena is organising a Zumbathon in aid of the children’s cancer support group CHIC’S at the Wavertree Lifestyle Centre on Sunday, April 27 and I’m one of a number of instructors who will be helping her.
“The instructors will be on a big stage up front and will lead the rest in a non-stop exercise routine lasting for three hours from 1-4pm.
“We’re expecting around 150 people to turn up and help raise as much money as possible for CHICS through sponsorship. They’ll be coming from all over Merseyside and the Wirral and there will be girls and even a few guys joining in.
“I just can’t wait to do it because it will be so much fun. I’m also delighted to be helping CHICS which does such marvellous work.
“It helps to support the whole family of a child diagnosed with cancer in a variety of ways like producing a regular newsletter, drop-in centres and parent meetings. There’s also a telephone befriending service, trips and parties and holidays for the children and their families.”
Derek Millar, Commercial Director for Pyramids Shopping Centre, said: “I wish Sarah and her friend Kesiena lots of luck with their very energetic efforts for CLICS. It sounds like a fantastic charity to raise money for.”
Sarah’s friend Kesiena Ovien, who is 26 and comes from Liverpool, said: “I was diagnosed with leukaemia when I was 13. I had treatment for three years and, touch wood, I am free of it now.
“It was while I was having my treatment in Alder Hey Hospital that I had my first contact with CHICS. They were fantastic and helped me and my family so much that I wanted to do something to help them in return.
“I’m a trainee solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors in Liverpool and I’m also the charity co-ordinator for the Merseyside Junior Lawyers group. When they were looking round for a suitable charity to support I suggested CHICS.
“As I’m very keen on Zumba and have been an instructor for the past year and a half I came up with the idea of doing a Zumbathon on behalf of CHICS.”
Kesiena added: “The event is being hosted by Merseyside Juniors Lawyers and sponsored by my law firm, Hampson Hughes Solicitors.
“About 20 instructors from across Merseyside and the Wirral, including Sarah, have agreed to help on the day, so it should be a fantastic occasion.
“I’ve set a fundraising target of £3,000 for the event but if we could get even more than that it would be marvellous.”
To support the Zumbathon event go to Kesiena’s charity page at: http://www.justgiving.com/MJLDsupportschics