Auntie Pat's Dancing School

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Dancer, Karen Downerr with her parents, John and Pam Peskett and Bernie Gudge

" Auntie Pat" was Mrs.Patricia Barnwell, and her Dancing School was the subject of this month's exhibition. The wall-panels of the David Rudkin Room displayed over 60 black-and-white photographs of local children and grown-ups taking part in musicals, revues and pantomimes ----- and unless you happened to be one of those dancers your attention might soon wander.

But I was fortunate to meet Mr.Bernie Gudge, whose task it was to scan dozens of photos from the archives, some very small and faded or damaged, and turn them into the clear and striking images on the walls! Dancers 2
In the 1940s "Pat's Mighty Atoms Song and Dance Group" entertained Emsworth and beyond; the Dance School started in 1944/5 and rehearsals were held in a large room above the Fire Station. That large room is now the Museum's main Showroom! Mr. Gudge knew many of the dancers' names and told me that quite a few of them had come to see the exhibition and had revived happy memories. But most of the original photos had no names and the Museum was asking for Valerie Hancock pointing herself out to son, Terry and Bernie Gudge. 

help from the public in identifying the dancers. What struck me was the sheer enjoyment on the faces of all the dancers. Before the photos were taken there would have been weeks of rehearsals with constant pressure to "get it right on the night!" The results were clearly worth all their efforts. Simon Cowell --- eat your heart out!


Pictures: John Tweddell