Banbury woman's dancing dinosaur routine brings smiles to community during coronavirus outbreak

A 43-year-old Banbury woman has taken to dancing in a giant dinosaur costume to help bring a smile to people during the coronavirus outbreak.
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Gemma Whitton-Dews has now started taking requests from people as she posts videos of herself on Facebook dancing in her 7.5 foot tall dinosaur costume.

Gemma said: "I received it for Mother’s Day. I knew in the current climate it would cheer people up so I thought why not. It’s all about community spirit at a time like this, (and it gives me an excuse to dress up in an inflatable costume.)

The dinosaur costume now named 'G-Rex' first caught the attention of her neighbours after she wore it to personally deliver her Mother's Day gift and card to her own mother.

GemmaGemma
Gemma

She said: "I walked to my parents house on the Oxford Road to deliver my mum's card and pressie and that's when everyone first saw me. After seeing that Joe Wicks was doing a PE session in the morning, I thought I’d do my own in the costume."

She's now received lots of requests to dance in the costume, which accepts and then posts the video on her Facebook page.

Gemma added: "I’ve had requests to walk past friends houses who have children so I’ll be doing that, and I also took a walk along Grange Road and the Oxford Road dressed in it."

Pictures and videos of her walking dancing dinosaur routines have spread around the Banbury Facebook pages.

Viral Kindness card passed out by Gemma before she had to self isolateViral Kindness card passed out by Gemma before she had to self isolate
Viral Kindness card passed out by Gemma before she had to self isolate

One Facebook user said: "Whoever you are walking along Grange Road in this dino costume, you are a genius, made mine and my husbands day. We haven't laughed so much for a long time."

Gemma also started an online social media trend to help boost the spirits of people during these uncertain times, which she called Lip sync Lockdown.

She said: "The lipsync was just a bit of fun for us all in lockdown. I started it because I can’t sing, but do love to entertain. Three other friends followed suit."

One of her friends made the following post on Facebook about the Lip sync Lockdown initiative: "We won’t be singing on the balconies like the Italians, so just for fun Gemma has started lockdown lip sync. I’ve been tagged. Tag five of your friends and let’s lighten the mood. Lip sync to your favourite tune."

But beyond bringing smiles to people by dancing in a dinosaur costume Gemma has also been helping people in her community in practical ways too. She has passed more than 150 #VirialKindess cards offering help to others in the Timms Estate of Banbury.

Gemma said: "This is not my artwork (card design) and quite a lot of people have delivered them in Banbury and surrounding areas. It’s a great way to reach out to the older population who do not have access to the internet and Facebook.

"I have helped a couple of neighbours out with groceries and picking up prescriptions. Mostly I’ve had calls or texts saying how much they appreciate the offer of help during this time.

"Unfortunately, I’m no longer in a position to shop due to the immune suppression medication I take due to Lupus, but have managed to build up a small group of volunteers who are now helping the neighbours when I receive any requests."

Banbury resident Chanelle Webb knows firsthand the importance people like Gemma in the community who are spreading kindness even if they're not 'key workers.'

Chanelle said: "She has brought a smile to so many faces. Not only that she has been actively helping the vulnerable.

"I can't thank her enough. While I was isolation she went to shops for me. She has sent me videos everyday to cheer me up. All whilst trying to keep her business going as she is self employed."