charters part two
1970-1989 PAGE 10
Coincidentally at this time, in 1974, the Romford branch had to close. It had been known that the local planning authority required it to be demolished for large-scale redevelopment in the area. Nevertheless it was a huge disappointment to the students and staff.
Francesca Lovell-Badge recently wrote about the, "Shock and sadness at being told the school would close. The last day, when past and present students performed their final salute, there was hardly a dry eye anywhere - what a loss to the dance world. What made it even worse was seeing the building standing empty for months afterwards ." She continues, "Not long ago I returned to Romford to find the spot where BDS once stood. This was a bad idea! I managed to locate the synagogue which was next door and saw the ugly office block which had replaced the school. Passers-by gave me very strange looks as I stood there with tears streaming down my face." A few students transferred to Charters but they had to 'audition' to get in whilst other students went on to similar prestigious dance schools in the UK. With their LEAs approval for grant aid, most of these students were able to continue, or begin, with 'O' or 'A' level studies. "Charters was rather like having a big sister on hand to help in a crisis," one student was heard to say. On the other hand it must have been a traumatic time for all students.
Joyce and Daphne were summoned to Charters to a special board meeting with the family, partly due to the growing concerns caused by the Espinosa episode but also, following the tragic death of Margaret Meyer, from a brain haemorrhage, during one of her long and exhausting teaching days. Daphne immediately agreed to take on Margaret's exam candidates. Joyce was to teach and generally help to organise with such tasks as timetables. They 'came to the rescue' in that period, mentioned earlier, covering Noreen's illness and eventual demise. Initially they came for one day each week but this quickly increased to two, three and more when Joyce became Ballet Principal. One can remember the suitcases and paraphernalia, increasingly mounting in quantity, as time went by, at the edge of the tennis court waiting to be loaded into the car on a Friday or Saturday morning, only to be refreshed (including a number of M&S bags for midnight feasts) and returned again, unloaded in the same place, the following Monday morning! They soon settled into boarding school life!
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