Dance legend Wayne Sleep joined 1,000 Westminster residents aged 65 and over at the Westminster Tea Dance on Sunday 10 December. Now in its 12th year, the event has become a festive tradition for many people who enjoyed an afternoon of live music, entertainment and dancing at Grosvenor House on Park Lane.
Guests enjoyed a full afternoon tea and live music from Tea Dance regulars, the Red Stripe Band, who filled the dance floor. There was a performance from soprano singer Lauren Lodge-Campbell and children from Danceworks International Ballet Academy gave a festive performance from the Nutcracker.
There was also a special appearance from members of local charity, Open Age, who performed a medley of Latin and Ballroom to encourage other guests to take up dancing. The performance was masterminded by local resident, Rashmi Becker, through Step Change Studios, an inclusive Latin and Ballroom dance company.
Local resident, 102-year-old Peggy was presented with a Christmas hamper kindly donated by Fortnum & Mason in celebration of being the oldest guest at the event.
Special guest Wayne Sleep OBE with Cllr Ian Adams, Lord Mayor of Westminster (left); 102-year-old guest Peggy being presented with a Fortnum & Mason hamper (centre)
Wayne Sleep said: “As people grow older they bring with them a wealth of golden memories. The collective history, knowledge and life stories of the guests made this an unforgettable celebration.”
Cllr Christabel Flight, Older People’s Champion at Westminster City Council and Founding Trustee of the Sir Simon Milton Foundation, said: “Loneliness is an issue for many older people and I hope that the Tea Dance can help them to meet new people and feel part of their community.”
Matthew Sykes, Chief Executive of the Sir Simon Milton Foundation, said: “This event is just one of the ways in which we seek to relieve loneliness and isolation amongst older people in Westminster. It was wonderful to see so many happy faces.”
Guest comments included: “It takes years off me to have the opportunity to dance and enjoy company”, “I would be on my own if not for this treat”, “I enjoy the company and meeting new friends, it takes away stress and anxiety” and “I enjoy it so much I feel 10 years younger”.
Guests took to the dancefloor (left); Performers from Open Age with Rashmi Becker (centre)
Many local charities and voluntary organisations supported the event by bringing along local residents, including Carers Network, One Westminster’s Befriending Plus, Westminster care homes, Open Age and Age UK Westminster. Team Westminster Ambassadors and Volunteer Police Cadets from Westminster, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge volunteered at the event alongside Westminster Council staff.
The Westminster Tea Dance is hosted by the Sir Simon Milton Foundation and is supported by Westminster City Council; Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel; Shaftesbury Plc and The Telegraph Media Group.