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Ami's 'Dancing Through Cancer' Fundraiser & Celebration in Bisbrooke, Rutland

Ami Shirley is a mother of four beautiful girls who has lived in Bisbrooke with her family for 27 years. Ami describes herself as ageing beautifully at 62 but says she behaves more like her shoe size.


I've known Ami for around four years now (in a very funny way that we'll share another time) and the two of us have become dearest friends. You might know Ami and her family best for their award-winning artisan bakery business, Bisbrooke Artisans.


In 2021, Ami's life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and bravely documented the whole journey from diagnosis to treatment via her Instagram account to tell her story and raise awareness whilst discovering her love of dance.

This weekend (Saturday 10th September from 3:00 pm), Ami is hosting a 'Dancing through Cancer' charity fundraiser in her garden in the Rutland village of Bisbrooke - and everyone is invited.

The fundraiser is a celebration of Ami's cancer journey and her way of giving back to the cancer community by raising money for two charities very close to her heart; Future Dreams & Make 2nds Count.


If you can’t attend the event and would like to donate a raffle prize or funds to the fundraiser, please get in contact with Ami via her Instagram @Bisbrooke_Artisans or email: ahuzar@yahoo.com | Copyright: Rutland Creative

I'd best describe Ami as a warm and caring person, who lights up every room she walks into with her vibrant personality, infectious laugh and her enviable ability to dance - even without music playing.


It's fair to say the last year has been very challenging for Ami, with COVID forcing the family bakery business to take a new direction, her husband Lance leaving for the USA and this all happening just weeks before Ami’s breast cancer diagnosis - all of which Ami shared with unfiltered honesty via her Instagram account, @Bisbrooke_Artisans.


The business side of things is now run by Ami's daughter Georgia and husband Hass who are talented chefs at Wolf & Bear Kitchen.

Ami's husband Lance had to leave for San Francisco to care for his elderly Mother but the two still speak regularly and are great friends.


Ami has also loved exploring her fashion sense since her cancer diagnosis introduced her to a love of dance | Copyright: Rutland Creative

Ami's cancer diagnosis was a huge shock and put a halt to all her travel and party plans and visits to the hospital became a new routine. Ami's chemo treatment took its toll on her and in the end, had to be stopped and alternative treatment options explored.


Ami said: "I don't want to be defined by my cancer, but when I found out the diagnosis, it shook the bottom of my world and it fell away. It was a nightmare."


After the chemo treatment was stopped, Ami went on to receive a lumpectomy, lymphadenectomy and radiotherapy at Leicester Royal Infirmary.


Ami said: "Along my journey with cancer, I’ve learned so much about myself. I've learned to love myself and the true beauty that lies inside us. It's about our energy and how we want to live each day. I've realised that I am where I need to be right now and that life is about grabbing it by the balls (or in my case boobs!) and running towards my dreams. With all of this, it feels like the perfect time celebrate by hosting a fundraiser."

Entry to the 'Dancing Through Cancer' fundraiser is £5 on the door (which includes a welcome drink), parking is available on Glaston Road or in Bisbrooke Church car park and all are encouraged to bring cash or a debit/credit card and help to raise as much as possible on the day for Future Dreams & Make 2nds Count.


Come along with your family and friends from 3:00 pm on Saturday 10th September and enjoy live entertainment from local musicians, singers and of course - dancers! As well as an incredible raffle (with prizes kindly donated from all over the UK), a bar and plenty of delicious food to enjoy including the famous Bisbrooke Artisans X Wolf & Bear pizza and sourdough bread.


Ami dances wherever possible and loves spreading joy | Copyright: Rutland Creative

I asked Ami why she decided to call her fundraiser 'Dancing Through Cancer’ and Ami said: "I’m so glad you asked me this Charlie, as I hope it doesn’t come across as minimising pain or grief. But to me, it's about dancing through the storm and finding the little joys that we can. As I think that’s how I’ve managed. Yes, I’ve cried and almost lost the will... But then I hear music and I dance - with or without music and I think it’s how I’ve coped, to be honest. Dancing gives me joy and opens doors for me to and it’s showed me that no one should feel they can’t find joy to live again.

I’ve always enjoyed dancing but through cancer, I’ve danced everywhere I can.


I've danced on Oxford Street, at the V&A Museum, on Brighton beach, in Stamford and in Uppingham and I made history by being the first person to dance in the radiotherapy room in Leicester hospitals. I've been so surprised how dance has connected me to others. I hear people say "Thank you, you’ve brought us so much joy!


I've met so many incredible and inspirational people during my journey with cancer, some don't have cancer, some know someone with cancer and many have cancer themselves and we share our stories with each others and we love, laugh and sometimes we dance together to - or I'll dance for them."


Ami's garden in Bisbrooke features an orchard, chicken hut, log cabin and of course, their tin bakery | Copyright: Rutland Creative

Ami and I have had many deep conversations since her diagnosis, but one that sticks in my mind is when I asked Ami how her dancing makes her feel and she replied by saying that it made her feel 'empowered' by seeing how her dancing brings joy to her day and everyone else around her, by just being herself - often without the need of music and she dances to her own imaginary beat in unusual locations across the UK, bringing smiles to strangers faces.

During our chat, Ami mentioned that she completely underestimated the powerful connections that her dancing creates and explains that she initially started dancing as a form of self-care to brighten her own day, but she soon discovered that it was doing something else too... Ami started to receive tearful messages from strangers thanking her for lifting their spirits through her dancing videos and some even hoped that they can meet and dance together one day.


Ami is so grateful for the connections that her dancing has created, in-person and online via her Instagram account; @Bisbrooke_Artisans. Through Instagram, Ami encourages people to find the passion that lifts their mood and Ami quite literally lives by the Vivian Greene quote; “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”


Ami has lived in Bisbrooke for 27 years | Copyright: Rutland Creative

Originally, Instagram was where the family business 'Bisbrooke Artisans' acquired 80% of their customers but now Ami uses the platform to tell the stories of her family life, her feelings, her thoughts and every single detailed step of her breast cancer journey.


With a combination of her love of writing, painting and dance, Ami's Instagram account has helped her understand herself and others through storytelling and engaging with people from all over the world during her cancer journey and she has made hundreds of new connections, has supporters from across the globe and has made many, many caring friends.


With successful careers in teaching and an award-winning artisan bakery, in years to come, Ami hopes that she’ll always be remembered for her dancing over everything else.


Ami says that Instagram has helped her find out more about herself and says the next steps of her life are all about finding out more about ‘Ami’ and she will definitely be sharing the future chapters of her life via Instagram to inspire and encourage others to put themselves first, focus on their mental health and wellbeing whilst smiling and dancing through the storms and difficult challenges that life throws at us.



You can follow Ami via Instagram at @Bisbrooke_Artisans | Copyright: Rutland Creative

If you can’t attend the event and would like to donate a raffle prize or funds to the fundraiser, please get in contact with Ami via her Instagram @Bisbrooke_Artisans or email: ahuzar@yahoo.com


If you can’t attend the event and would like to donate a raffle prize or funds to the fundraiser, please get in contact with Ami via her Instagram @Bisbrooke_Artisans or email: ahuzar@yahoo.com






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Eddy Smith
Eddy Smith
08 juin

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