A COMMUNITY centre in Fordingbridge has been given a boost thanks to a generous bequest from a former dance teacher who used the venue.

Patti Gammon ran the Pat Britton School of Dancing at Avonway in Fordingbridge from 1981 until she retired in 2001.

She died in November 2021 at the age of 91 and left £1,000 to the community centre in Shaftesbury Street.

Janet Brown, the chairman of Avonway, said: “It is particularly good to have this money at the present time as the trustees who take over at Avonway after the AGM on May 23 have lots of ideas for new community activities and this money will help them to put their ideas into action.”

Peter Gloyns, a relative of Patti’s, added: “She was very well-known locally, as her teaching encompassed ballet, modern and tap for children and keep fit for adults. Her classes for pupils and friends were second to none for her expertise and the fun and laughter produced. She was renowned for her shows including ‘Showtime’, ‘Pot-Pourri’ and ‘Celebration: Millennium Show’.”

She was a member of the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and became life members of both organisations.

“She was a marvellously bubbly, generous and gifted person. Many people in Fordingbridge remember her fondly from attending her classes,” added Peter.

“Her dance and acting career started at the age of 14, while she was still at Dance School. She worked with celebrities such as Charlie Chester, Harry Secombe, Alfred Hitchcock and Bob Monkhouse. Lionel Blair taught her as a teenager how to tap dance down a flight of stairs.

“Patti was a very beautiful lady, thoughtful to others, who kept her vibrancy to the end. She is very lovingly remembered.”

Patti’s legacy lives on at Avonway as Janet explains: “Avonway is pleased to say that Patti’s work is continuing through the Fordingbridge Dance Studios and its principal, Sophia Burghart. Classes are offered in ballet, tap, modern, acrobatics and musical theatre for children and adults, retaining the close ties with the Royal Academy of Dance started by Patti.”

Sophia added: “It is a privilege to be continuing the legacy of The Pat Britton School of Dance. It is an honour for me to be teaching the children whose parents attended Patti’s classes, and some adults who attended as children. It was so kind of Patti to leave a generous donation to Avonway to help the centre, and ensuring the future of dance in Fordingbridge.”


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