Happy times on the dance floor

Friday 6th January 2012 12:00 am

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Dennis Sheldrake, of Seymour Court, Bridgetown, Totnes, writes:

In your issue of December 9, you carried, in your obituary column, the announcement of the death of George Richards of South Allington.

Since then I have been waiting to see if anyone would submit a tribute to him in your paper, but, unless I have missed it, nothing has appeared.

I wonder if you would allow me to fill the gap in some small way based on my, admittedly, relatively short acquaintance with him.

George was a Devonian through and through, and was, I think, involved in farming for many years.

Probably 30 years or more ago he fell victim to the dreaded sheep dip disease, and he was plagued by its effects for the rest of his life, though such was his stoical nature it was never obvious.

My friendship with him began only about 15 years ago, in connection with the Slapton ballroom dancing activities, in which time he and his beloved wife Nancy were always assisting in some way or another with the running of the sessions.

Apart from the Saturday activities, George also ran practice dance sessions at Chillington and, more recently, Frogmore village halls, to encourage new recruits to improve their skills, and he would always be seen on Saturdays getting one after another of the newcomers on to the floor.

For the last six years, George presented the dances himself, and without him the dancing activities at Slapton would surely have folded.

Despite frequent bouts of bad health, he and Nancy were pretty much ever present, and all who attended must have been indebted to him for a great deal of enjoyment. I sincerely hope that someone will come forward to carry on the legacy that he has left.

I know that George was a great devotee of local football, and for some years he had been chairman and, latterly, president of Kingsbridge and Kellaton football club, and of its predecessor, Kellaton FC, another instance of him, selflessly, giving of his time for the benefit and enjoyment of others.

I am sure I shall not be alone in missing him greatly, and, everyone's sympathy will go out to Nancy in her great loss.

George presented his last dance at Slapton only a week before he was admitted to hospital. My wife and I were not there on that occasion, but, although feeling very poorly indeed, he just carried on dancing. It was just noted that he sat down a little more often. This was absolutely typical of him.

There must be others with much greater in-depth knowledge of George's contributions to local life, and, maybe, this small effort on my part will encourage someone to go into print.


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