Guest Blog: Gary Lyness & Paula Moulton - UK Wheelchair Dancesport Champions

Published by Gary Lyness & Paula Moulton on 15th Oct 2014

Paula Moulton with her dance partner Gary Lyness are the UK’s top couple in Wheelchair Dancesport. You may us know as StrictlyWheels.

Until last year I danced without any proper dance foot wear, just wearing sparkly flat pumps as they suited my needs as a wheelchair user. As a wheelchair user I have spasticity in my lower legs making wearing traditional dance shoes very difficult. We were progressing rapidly through the rankings in Amateur level and hoping to qualify for Select Class and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) rankings so the issue of correct footwear became more pressing. This is where International Dance Shoes came in. They offered us sponsorship in 2013 to provide us with our shoes for competitions and training.

This was a godsend. With International Dance Shoes' help, we set to customising shoes to find the ideal solution. For me this meant the opposite of what every standing dancer needed without compromising on style. Quickly we worked out that I would need a low Cuban heel with a rubber sole rather than the traditional suede so that my feet would sit flatter and would not slip off the footplate of my dance wheelchair. The first shoes I had – ICS for ballroom and Bianca for Latin - arrived and they were amazing, my feet didn’t slip and slide and more importantly they looked the part without increasing spasticity.

After wearing them a few times though, another thought crossed my mind. I cannot reach the outside of my feet where the buckles are, so could never get them on and off without assistance from Gary. A simple solution was found; International Dance Shoes just reversed the strap so the buckle was on the inside of the ankle! Such a simple solution which has given me complete independence to be able to put on my own shoes and look the part!

In the UK Wheelchair Dancesport is not so well known, but we compete for GB all over the world including at Paralympic level. There are over 33 countries which compete in Wheelchair Dancesport so there is a need for bespoke shoes. All these wheelchair users need shoes and many of them face the same difficulties which I did , however these issues were simply overcome by International Dance Shoes as part of their customisation service, with access to all the great range of styles.

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