Very grateful for a life of dance

A former Banbury dance teacher who successfully coached more than 17,000 Banbury children through their exams is hoping to get in touch with her former pupils as she celebrates her 80th birthday.

Margaret Barrett ran a well-known ballet and ballroom dancing school at the Church House and later GF Sports and Social Club in Banbury until she retired in 1988.

Mary Barrett

Mary Barrett

She will celebrate her birthday with an open house for family, friends and former pupils on Sunday.

Mrs Barrett – nee Trump – studied at ballet school in Bristol and then performed for three years with the West of England Ballet Company before returning to Banbury aged 19 to set up her first ballet school in North Bar.

“I always knew it was what I wanted to do,” said Mrs Barrett.

“It was really my ambition to teach others, not to perform myself, so I came back and opened my own school.”

“It was wonder­ful, I slept and lived it, it was just my life completely”, she said.

Mrs Barrett met her husband Roy in Leamington Spa when they were both sitting dance examinations and Mr Barrett taught at the school alongside his day job running the Banbury School of Motoring.

For more than 36 years the couple successfully coached 17,571 exam candidates through there IDTA qaulifications.

“I still bump into my pupils everywhere which is lovely,” said Mrs Barrett.

“Many of them have gone on to set up their own dance schools. I’m just very grateful that I was able to do what I always wanted.”

“Lots of people go into it for the money, but for me it was a vocation,” she added.

After 36 years of dance coaching Mrs Barrett now spends much of her time on the Spanish island of Tenerife as the climate is better for her joints, which have suffered over the years of teaching dance moves.

She still comes back to Banbury, however, to spend time with her daughter Tina who is herself a graduate of her mother’s school.