Tribute to dancing queen Freda

Geoff Lucas (right) with Elwick Academy of Dance members during the balloon launch at the memorial service in Stranton Cemetery.
Geoff Lucas (right) with Elwick Academy of Dance members during the balloon launch at the memorial service in Stranton Cemetery.

A TOUCHING tribute has been paid to a town’s very own dancing queen on the anniversary of her death.

Members of Elwick Academy of Dance gathered around the grave of Freda Compton and released dozens of balloons in her memory.

Freda Compton

Freda Compton

Freda founded the school in 1949 and taught thousands of Hartlepool youngsters the art.

In 1999 Freda received an MBE from the Queen for her charity and community work.

She died aged 83 at her home in Bathgate Terrace, Hartlepool, on September 19, after a brave battle with cancer.

Her son Geoff Lucas, 50, said: “It was just going to be a little family affair, but everyone wanted to come and pay their respects.

“She is very highly thought of and will always be a big part of the school and the town.”

Freda had grown up in Brougham Terrace and married her husband Frank on August 13, 1949, before starting dancing herself at the age of 11.

She started teaching children to dance herself at the age of 16 at Winnie Warnes School of Dance and Drama, while participating in many shows herself.

Her passion for teaching grew and she branched out on her own to form Elwick Academy of Dance.

She went on to stage no fewer than 61 annual pantomimes to packed out stalls at the Town Hall Theatre, in Raby Road, Hartlepool.

She also encouraged her dancers to take part in competitions up and down the country – with many of her starlets going on to dance professionally – and helped raise thousands for charity.

Geoff, who now runs the academy in Bathgate Terrace with Leanne Jeffries, added: “Things move on and change, but we are trying to make sure my mum’s spirit remains.

“We are making changes, but doing them in a way that she would have wanted.

“Her personality is definitely still here.”