Young Oldham performers entertain at Heathrow to mark disability day

Date published: 06 December 2023

A group of young performers trained in Mossley has been entertaining travellers at Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport.

The dancers and drummers (including some from Oldham), aged 14-26, were taking part in a series of events to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities last Sunday (December 3).

One third of the group, which was organised by Mossley-based outdoor arts organisation Global Grooves, identify as having a disability or being neurodivergent, including 18-year-old CJ Knaggs from Watersheddings.

Other local representation came from Mally Harley from Lees and Siobhan Shumba from Littlemoor.

The nine drummers and four dancers gave ten performances over the day, entertaining passengers in Terminals 2, 3 and 5. 

Other young people who performed at Heathrow with Global Grooves came from Tameside, Rochdale, Manchester, Durham, Glasgow, Leicester, Isle of Wight, Liverpool and London.

For many of the group, it was their first flight or visit to London and for others, the day represented their first public performance with Global Grooves.

The young people who took part are all current or former participants in Global Grooves' Future Leaders scheme.

The free biennial programme offers expert training to young people aged 12-25 from all over the UK who are passionate about music, dance, or visual arts.

Successful applicants are invited to a series of residentials at the Northern Carnival Centre of Excellence, which is based at The Vale in Mossley.

Global Grooves was invited to perform at the event by long term partner British Airways.

The airline has supported Future Leaders students from the UK to travel to further their study and professional development.

It has also enabled young people from countries including India, Singapore, New Zealand, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago to attend masterclasses at the Carnival centre in Mossley.

Heathrow airport, 14 miles west of Central London, is the UK's biggest and sees around 128,000 passengers a day.

CJ Knaggs, an 18-year-old dancer, percussionist and band leader from Watersheddings, said: "Performing at Heathrow with Global Grooves was one of the best experiences I've ever participated in.

"This weekend was a special one for me personally because I'm autistic, and it's been so incredibly special to represent that."

Holly Prest, co-founder of Global Grooves, who accompanied the group to Heathrow, said: "The event promoted visibility of disability issues to mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing of people with disabilities.

"Our Future Leaders, including those with lived experience of disability, brought feelgood carnival energy to a smiling crowd of thousands across multiple terminals, arrivals areas, and even airport lifts.

"We loved working with our friends at Cabasa to create our 'not all disabilities are visible' banner specially for the day.

"We want to extend a huge thank you to British Airways, the Heathrow Airport team, and Wilson James for inviting and supporting our young performers to take part in such an important event."

Anyone with an interest in Carnival arts, including dance, drumming and brass, can join the weekly Global Grooves Bloco evening sessions at The Vale, Vale Mill, off Micklehurst Road in Mossley, OL5 9JL.

For more information call 0161 870 6895 or email:

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