Non-stop dancing: the story of Sawston

9th December 2005 at 00:00
Henry Morris, Cambridgeshire's secretary of education from 1922 to 1954, devised the concept of village colleges as a means of regenerating rural life, and creating a "social synthesis" - in which adults and children could learn near and from each other - from the cradle to the grave.

Distinctive new schools were created to fit the purpose.

Sawston's recent anniversary - it first opened its doors in October 1930 - has been celebrated with a range of community events; students and local residents marched, danced, sang and put on plays and sporting activities.

The school once again elected a Rose Queen, a ceremony dropped in the 1960s; Year 8 student Catriona Davidson was duly crowned by Pearl Mann, the Rose Queen of 1943. Other students ran a Rose Queen cafe and raised pound;300 for charity.

Ronald Brown was the second pupil to sign up on the original 1930 school roll. He stayed for only three months, until his 14th birthday, when he left school for a life in the printing trade. His main memory of his time as a pupil is the way boys and girls were segregated in the playground by a fence - a memory that seems to rankle still. But his experience of the college as an adult would surely have delighted Henry Morris. Aged 50, Ronald Brown came back to Sawston to learn to dance; he attended old-time and sequence dancing sessions there for 30 years. Now aged 90, he still dances regularly.

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