Fond farewell to Dereck, city’s Lord Of The Dance
His dance classes were a huge hit in Peterborough, but more than that, Dereck Brown’s greatest legacy may be the many husbands and wives who have him to thank for their long and fruitful marriages. Joel Lamy spoke to some of them when he attended Dereck’s
Peterborough’s very own cupid, Dereck Brown, helped romance blossom throughout the city during his many decades teaching people how to dance. And at his funeral last Thursday, tributes flooded in for ‘a pillar of Peterborough’ and a ‘true gentleman’.
Dereck was given the honour of a service at Peterborough Cathedral and dozens of people came to pay their respects to the man who ran Brown’s Dancentre in Lincoln Road for over 40 years.
Dereck’s wife Edna and daughter Joanne were inundated after the service with well-wishers who wanted to thank the family for everything Dereck had done for them.
One of them was Veronica Woodcock-Ellard who first took lessons from Dereck in 1955. She said: “I started at just 16. He got me through five exams with highly commended.
“As a teacher he was kind and encouraged me.”
Les and Doreen Cul pin met at a dance Dereck organised at the Town Hall 50 years ago. They then married the following year. Doreen said: “We would not have met if it were not for Dereck.”
Paul and Diane H ur re ll met at Brown’s Dancentre in 1985 at a singles night. They said three or four couples from their group had also got married.
The service began at 11.45 am and included eulogies from Dereck’s brother-in-law Charles Swift, his son-in-law Mark Windsor- Hampton and CEO of the International Dance Teachers’ Association Keith Holmes.
Edna said: “I thought the service was absolutely fabulous. To be allowed the privilege of the cathedral was fantastic.
“Dereck was a loving and very caring man and he absolutely loved-dancing- it washis life. And he wanted to help everybody. If he could give them help he did.”
In his eulogy Charles, a city councillor in Peterborough for 62 years, described Dereck as “one of the pillars of society in this city.”
He said :“De re ck and I were immigrants from Yorkshire and boy could De re ck tell a story. He was a marvellous orator and could speak on any subject on any length.
“Those who knew Dereck I’m sure would agree with me that we have all lost what can only be described as a perfect English gentleman.”
Keith said: “Dereck was a really sincere man who you never heard say a wrong word about anyone.
“We have lost our dear friend and mentor. I’m sure all of your lives have been enriched in some way knowing Dereck. I know mine has.”
De re ck moved to Peterborough from Yorkshire in 1952 where he worked as a dance teacher at the Max Grist Dance Studio before opening Brown’s Dancentre. Classes were so busy it was often not possible to get into the studio, and it was not uncommon to see queues around the corner.
Dereck’s grandson Jack said: “He was very jolly and always making jokes and trying to give advice. It’s almost humbling to see how many people care about him.”
Dereck and Edna Brown
Scenes from the funeral at the cathedral whichincluded an eulogy from Charles Swift