Four friends have raised an amazing £3,160 for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of a much-admired choreographer and fitness coach, Lesley Cogbill Thomas, after she died of breast cancer in September.

Claire Davis (59) from Richmond, along with three fellow students, were inspired to organise the fitness fundraiser after losing their inspirational Zumba instructor Lesley. Lesley was just 56 when she died.

Claire said: “I first met Lesley through her popular Zumba classes – she was such a fantastic teacher that when we heard she was unable to continue teaching due to her terminal cancer diagnosis, fellow class members Miranda, Nicola and Maryam were inspired to train as Zumba instructors so they could continue Lesley’s classes, as well as her legacy. I think it gave Lesley some comfort that people were still enjoying her wonderful choreography.

“Despite losing Lesley just days before our event, it was a joyful celebration and a lovely memorial to a fantastically talented teacher and dancer. In honour of all the great times we had following Lesley’s brilliant dance-moves, we returned to the original gym where Lesley had first started. Word spread to other classes and clubs – so many people came along to show their support. It really was a community effort!

“And a big thank-you to the management of ‘Pools on the Park’, who kindly let us have the venue for free and who were incredibly supportive of our fundraising efforts.

“Pretty much everyone has been touched by cancer in some way, so we wanted to show our support for the amazing work that Macmillan do. It was a great way to celebrate Lesley and what she gave us”

Around 50 people took part in the Latin-inspired charity work-out on the 22nd September, raising over £3,160. There was also a cake sale.

Macmillan Fundraising Manager for London, Lucy Hill, said: “On behalf of all our Macmillan nurses, doctors, support workers and cancer experts, I want to say a massive thank-you to everyone who made the Zumbathon such a success. Macmillan Cancer Support receives no government funding and relies almost entirely on donations – we simply couldn’t help the growing number of people who need us, without the support and generosity of those who took part. You will help ensure Macmillan can continue to be there for people living with cancer, from the moment of their diagnosis.”

Zumba is an aerobic exercise fitness programme originating from Colombia. It combines moves used in Latin dances such as samba and salsa, as well as hip-hop and street dance, all set to an upbeat soundtrack.

You can still donate to the Zumbathon JustGiving page. Visit for more details: ***