Dancing at Sandringham

SUE SKINNER It's the perfect opportunity to put on your dancing shoes and waltz, foxtrot or quickstep those winter blues away - in the right royal surroundings of the Sandringham Visitor Centre.

SUE SKINNER

It's the perfect opportunity to put on your dancing shoes and waltz, foxtrot or quickstep those winter blues away - in some right royal surroundings.

After the thrills of taking a turn - and a tumble - on a custom-built ice skating rink near the Queen's home at Sandringham, a rather more sedate pursuit will be making its debut at the estate next month.

The Sandringham Visitor Centre has teamed up with ballroom dancing doyenne Peggy Spencer and the Gaywood Ballroom and Sequence Dance Club at King's Lynn to stage afternoon tea dances there twice a week during February.

It is the second special winter venture at the estate, following the opening of the rink outside the centre for the Christmas and New Year period, which attracted thousands of visitors from across the country.

Public enterprises manager, Helen Walch, said: “This was an idea put forward by our restaurant staff, who loved watching the skating but asked whether we could now offer something the older people might enjoy.

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“Ballroom dancing is enormously popular in this area and our main restaurant is a lovely space, so when we talked to local dancers they couldn't wait to get involved.

“We're putting in a dance floor and extra lighting, and all we need now is for local people to polish their dancing shoes and come along.”

Mrs Spencer, who retired to Lynn nine years ago, is the surviving half of the legendary Frank and Peggy Spencer dancing duo and a former commentator and dance adviser for the BBC.

Now in her eighties, she still teaches at the Gaywood club, which also runs a weekly tea dance.

Ballroom dancing is enjoying a revival, helped by the popularity of TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing, and Mrs Spencer loves it as much as ever.

“It's the joy of seeing everybody have a couple of hours cutting off the outside world and moving in time to music,” she said. “I suppose it's a fantasy world in a way but it's great.”

The estate is still assessing the success of the ice rink before deciding whether to repeat the attraction next Christmas.

Miss Walch said: “Sandringham did not cover their costs on this event, and there were a small number of accidents and injuries.

“On the other hand, almost 15,000 people came to skate and had a wonderful time over the Christmas holidays, so it would be a shame to disappoint them all.

“In the meantime, we're thrilled to be working with Peggy Spencer and her fellow dancing enthusiasts to bring a bit of sparkle to February afternoons at Sandringham.”

t The dancing sessions will be held on Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm, starting on February 2 and ending on February 28.

There will be a charge of £4.95 for seniors and £5.95 for the under-60s. Advance bookings can be made on 01485 544776.

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