I pro­pose a ‘Dance for Dereck Day’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Paul Stainton -

These days it seems that there is an award or hon­our for ev­ery­thing, from Si­mon Says to ex­treme eat­ing; who knew that there was even such a thing as a “whole hog burger” or that it con­tained over a pound of ham­burger, sausage, ba­con, pro­sciutto and pep­per­oni - plus four types of cheese, gar­lic mayo and pick­les, all topped off with fries and onion rings - that’s a whole 2,850 calo­ries! No, me nei­ther, but ap­par­ently it’s “award win­ning!”

But it’s not just gut bust­ing burg­ers that are get­ting gongs, our chil­dren win a cer­tifi­cate just for tak­ing part nowa­days, whilst failed stu­dents re­ceive hon­orary de­grees from pub­lic­ity hun­gry uni­ver­si­ties, just for be­ing their ob­nox­ious selves, in some aw­ful re­al­ity TV show on Chan­nel 5 (in­sert one of many here).

Busi­ness­men who raid em­ployee pen­sion funds are feted, whilst syco­phants and cronies of for­mer Prime Min­is­ters are re­warded with gongs and seats in the House of Lords.

Those that qui­etly go about their busi­ness, do­ing their bit for oth­ers, are sel­dom recog­nised for their deeds.

Dereck Brown was one such man.

I only met him once, when he came into the BBC Cam­bridgeshire stu­dio to an­nounce that he was re­tir­ing, af­ter four decades of teach­ing the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough to dance, from his stu­dios in Lin­coln Road.

Although, long be­fore I had ever met him, I felt like I al­ready knew him and his wife Edna, mostly through the count­less sto­ries, that were con­stantly told across the city, of his in­spi­ra­tional teach­ing of ball­room danc­ing.

He wasn’t in it for the money or the recog­ni­tion, he did it for the love; “Do ya folla?” He would of­ten ask, in his broad, York­shire ac­cent, as he at­tempted to bring ama­teur waltzers, fox­trot­ters and quick­step­pers up to speed.

Gen­er­a­tions of Peter­bo­ri­ans, went to Lin­coln Road to dance with many find­ing true love on Dereck’s sprung dance floor, in­clud­ing the present leader of the coun­cil, John Holdich.

His unique teach­ing meth­ods were adopted and adapted but never bet­tered, even Strictly Come Danc­ing head judge, Len Good­man (a life-long friend) ad­mit­ted to “bor­row­ing” the Brown method, when set­ting up his own dance schools. He also paid trib­ute to a “spe­cial man”, when he spoke to me on the BIG Con­ver­sa­tion on BBC Ra­dio Cam­bridgeshire last week: “He was my in­spi­ra­tion, a lovely, lovely, man,” he said.

So many peo­ple called in to the show with their own spe­cial mem­o­ries of Dereck and the sto­ries they told oozed love and af­fec­tion from ev­ery pore.

There is no doubt that he will be sadly missed but he will never be for­got­ten and I am sure that Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral will be full to the rafters for his fu­neral on Fri­day, Au­gust 12th, at 11.45am.

But maybe the city should go one step fur­ther for a man who did so much for so many, a man who brought much joy and love to Peter­bor­ough.

So I pro­pose a “Dance for Dereck Day” in Cathe­dral Square; “Do ya folla?”

We could hang some glit­ter balls, crank up the mu­sic, pull on our danc­ing shoes and go quick, quick, slow through the foun­tains; what bet­ter way to hon­our some­body who truly de­serves it.

I will get on to the coun­cil now!

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