THE costume being worn by a university student from Leigh during the London marathon is sure to turn heads in April.
Francesca Balchin, who grew up in Westleigh, is currently studying for a Master’s in Film Studies at Queen Mary’s University in London. She is entering the famous run to raise money for the Epilepsy Society.
But Francesca combines her academic studies with a second career as a burlesque dancer, and will run in full burlesque outfit ... but only if enough people sponsor her.
Francesca, 22, decided to run the marathon in a spur-of-the-moment burst of inspiration while watching last year’s race.
She said: “It was a very impulsive decision. I thought I would be in London for next year’s race, so I would have a go.
“This is my first proper go at raising money for charity, although I did the Race for Life in 2007.
“Quite a few of my friends are serious runners and they all put in for the London Marathon ballot, but none of them got into the race and I did.”
Although completing the 26.2 mile test would be enough for most people in their first charity fund-raiser, Francesca decided to make things more difficult by running in a corset but only if she raises more than £500.
She began doing burlesque in her first year of undergraduate study at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, and said: “I started when the director decided to make my role in the Threepenny Opera a burlesque one.
“I just love the fun and potential for subversive comedy and parody and the costumes are great.”
Francesca is raising money for the Epilepsy Society because both her older sister Tina, now 27, and herself suffered seizures between the ages of eight and 11.
Although the disease can be controlled with medication, epilepsy is often poorly understood, and the charity gives vital support to families and sufferers.
To sponsor Francesca, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/francescabalchin