TalkFirst Baby and Toddler Signing helping Chloe’s wish list come true

Student Kizzy Wood with Susan Broxton and Dexter. Kizzy first learnt sign language aged two in one of Susan’s classes.

A FIVE-year-old local girl with an incurable brain tumour will benefit from hundreds of pounds raised at a recent baby and toddler signing training session to help her wish list come true.

When TalkFirst baby and toddler signing tutor Susan Broxton organised a professional session for childminders last month, she offered to use it to raise money for charity because the father of one of the participants, Lauren Ashworth, had been diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer.

Susan, from Weir, said: “The original plan was for 10 people to be trained at Julie’s Childcare, in Rawtenstall, where Lauren is an assistant. However, it became training for 20 people offering extra places for local nurseries to raise money. We then needed a larger space and Bright Futures Nursery School at Alder Grange came to the rescue. Lauren was using the training as part of her Level 3 qualifications, but sadly her father Barry (Baz) passed away just two days before the training and so she was unable to attend.”

Local businesses generously donated prizes to make the event a success and so far £850 has been raised. However, ‘Big Dexter’, a giant version of TalkFirst’s colourful jester character that leads the signing sessions, was unable to make an appearance because Susan’s husband Andrew got his head stuck in the costume.

She said: “We had promised that Big Dexter would be there for photographs, but because he couldn’t be, we organised a further event on Tuesday March 31st at The Hill – home of Ski Rossendale, where I hold baby and toddler signing classes.

“We then looked for a local glioblastoma cause for some of the money to go to and I came across Chloe’s Angels. Chloe is five and, like Baz, has the same cancer. She has a wish list of things she wants to do. We contacted the family and got approval to raise money for her.

Chloe Connolly, five, who has a glioblastoma brain tumour.

“We have now set up Dexter’s FUNdraising and we will be making it an annual event. Money raised will also go to Parkinson’s UK in memory of my late father Mel Howey and The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Barry Ashworth.”

TalkFirst uses local company JSA Printing for their T-shirts and marketing materials, owned by brothers Joe and Sam Aston. Sam is also Coronation Street’s Chesney and his character has just had quads, one of whom is deaf and the current storyline sees them learning baby sign language. TalkFirst baby signing has been developed to help ALL babies and toddlers to promote speech and language skills. When Susan asked for T-shirts for the event, and explained where the funds were going, she discovered the brothers’ sister Kate, who also works in the firm, is Chloe’s auntie.

Susan said: “The coincidences have been never ending. We will be asking for donations if you’d like to have a photo taken with Dexter, we also hope to have someVIP guests on the day. After the event at The Hill, Dexter will also be at Bright Futures Nursery School in the afternoon, provided Andrew manages to get his head out of the costume properly this time!”

Kizzy and her mum Clare Wood at the signing class.

Susan has been running TalkFirst Baby And Toddler Signing for 15 years and is looking for more tutors, contact or visit

The link to Dexter’s FUNdraisier and GoFundMe page is Chloe’s Angels GoFundMe page is

by Catherine Smyth Media