A DANCE school is finally stepping into a new building, following 18 months of negotiations and refurbishment.

Mad4Dance founder Julie Laming was joined by pupils from the local community to officially cut the ribbon at the new home in Christchurch's British Legion building.

Julie had been looking for a permanent home for the school for several years, so when she spotted the building to let last year, she jumped at the opportunity. Working in partnership with the British Legion, who will continue to use the upstairs of the premises, Julie and her pupils will inject a new lease of life into the building while retaining its much-loved history and character.

Refurbishments have so far cost just over £50,000, some of which was raised through community fundraising and donations. Julie was also supported by some of her pupils’ parents, who gave their time and trade services for free to help Julie refurbish the whole of the ground floor with three new dance studios, changing rooms, a chill out space and kitchen.

Julie said: “I was moved and deeply grateful for all the support of my team, students and parents who gave so much time and hard work to help make this project possible. There is still work yet to be done, but I am confident that we will get there.”

The opening of the dance school’s new home coincides with its 15th year in business, during which more than 1,000 children have been taught. The school currently teaches 200 pupils aged from three years old to 18 and over, with up to 30 classes per week.

Julie hopes that, with the school's new home, she can add more classes and events and have a stronger presence in the local community.

She is also planning to launch a charity next year, which will be based at the school and focused on supporting young people in the local community.

Julie and the children will celebrate the opening of the school with a Christmas party in early December, with plans to host an official open day for the local community mid January 2020.