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Ill health forces shock closure of Cumbrian dance school

One of Cumbria’s oldest dance schools has announced it is closing suddenly.

Wendy Allen photo
Wendy Allen and husband Chris Towillis

The Wendy Allen School of Dancing, which has branches in Carlisle and Wigton, ceases operation from today.

The closure is due to a sudden deterioration in Wendy’s health. Details of her condition have not yet been released but husband Chris Towillis said it was no longer possible to continue the business.

He told the News & Star: “We regret to announce that the Wendy Allen School of Dancing is ceasing to trade with immediate effect.

“Due to a severe decline in health we find it impossible to continue. Both schools, Carlisle and Wigton, are now no longer in operation.”

Established in 1926 by her grandmother and later run by her mother, the Wendy Allen School of Dancing has become highly-regarded across Europe. Based at Atlas Works in Denton Holme, Carlisle, the school also ran classes in Wigton on Wednesday evenings.

Principal Wendy, 55, has over 30 years of experience as a professional instructor, teaching everything from ballet and tap to hip hop and street dance. Previous students have gone on to dance at a professional level, while others have opened their own schools.

It had hundreds of students, aged between three and 18.

Stunned parent Sheila Smith, from Carlisle, has been involved in the school for 18 years, when her eldest daughter Lauren Wood first started classes there aged three.

Lauren has gone on to train, through Wendy, as a dance instructor while her other two daughters, Briony Wood, 15 and Ellie Carter, nine, have both attended classes since they were young.

Sheila, who herself helped out with costumes and refreshments, said the school would be a big miss to many.

She said: “It’s meant an awful lot to my family. It’s given the girls confidence. Lauren was so quiet when she started there - now she’s a qualified dance teacher.

“The school was just like one big family. I don’t know how I’m going to tell Ellie that it has closed. I’ve already told my 15-year-old and she was devastated. They have a lot of friends there.

"It really was a leading dance school. I can’t believe it.”

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Posted by David aka Chutney on 9 January 2014 at 18:15

I am sorry to hear about Wendy , I was going to contact her through her school , her Grandmother Mabel was my fathers sister and I was hoping to fill gaps in the family tree ,
Get well soon ,
John and Margaret Collins of Shelf

Posted by John Collins on 13 October 2012 at 20:02

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