On yesterday’s BBC Radio 2 The Michael Ball Show, the actor and radio broadcaster surprised a young fan with Down’s syndrome to help him promote his dance challenge fundraiser for Mencap, the UK’s leading learning disability charity.

Andrew Self, a talented young dancer, was thrilled to receive the surprise call from Michael where the pair discussed ‘Andrew’s Boogie-thon Challenge’, taking place this Wednesday, which will be raising money to help support the UK’s 1.5 million people with a learning disability.

Andrew, a Mencap ambassador who previously hit headlines with his incredible performance on BBC’s The Greatest Dancer, is hosting the event to kick off the Move for Mencap challenge, running from 27th July to 3rd August. Move for Mencap is encouraging people to take on a fundraising challenge based around the numbers 1.5 to represent the 1.5 million people with a learning disability, whether it’s running 15km, doing 150 press-ups, or dancing to 15 songs.

Hosted via Facebook Live from 4pm this Wednesday, Andrew will be trying out as many different dance styles as possible for his ‘Boogie-thon’ challenge, switching every 1.5 minutes for as long as he can continue.

Donations soared following Andrew’s interview with Michael Ball and, by the end of the show, Andrew had raised around £3,500. The latest total is now over £4,000, far surpassing Andrew’s original £1,500 target.

Andrew, who started dancing aged 11, wants to show the world that with the right support people with a learning disability can achieve their dreams just like anyone else.

Andrew commented:

“I have Down's Syndrome, and I am raising money for Mencap so that the 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability, like me, can be supported to live the lives they want to lead”.

During the interview with Andrew, Michael Ball said:

“I loved watching you on the television. I thought you were magnificent. The way that you really listened to the music and felt the rhythm of the music, and were an inspiration.”

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of Mencap, said:

“We are so grateful to Andrew using his incredible talents to fundraise for Mencap. His skill, determination and enthusiasm shows what people with a learning disability can achieve when they receive the right support.

"The coronavirus crisis has affected people with a learning disability in various ways and we are having to adapt our services to ensure everyone feels supported. Andrew’s dancing challenge will help us to continue providing vital services throughout the crisis and ensure that the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK are supported. We do this through our helpline, online support services, online programmes and campaigning work – all of which empower people to lead the independent and fulfilling lives they deserve.”

To find out more and join Andrew’s challenge this Wednesday 22nd July at 4pm, visit Mencap's Facebook Live. To sponsor Andrew visit his fundraising page.

Find out more about taking on your own Move for Mencap challenge on the Mencap website.


For further information, contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).   

Notes to editors

About Mencap    

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (8am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.       

What is a learning disability?    

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.