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Shall we dance?

PUBLISHED: 15:22 18 May 2012

First tea dance held by the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.

First tea dance held by the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.

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More than 40 people attended the first afternoon tea dance run by the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.

They rolled back the years to the rhythmic one-two-one, one-two-one beat of the music they grew up with.

For many of them, it was the first time in decades they had taken their partners to glide around the room to the strains of Joe Loss and Glenn Miller, and re-live an era when Come Dancing did not have the label Strictly in front of it.

And the fact that most of them were blind, didn’t matter a bit.

For this was the first afternoon tea dance held by the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind for its evergreen clients – complete with dainty cucumber sandwiches and a healthy slice of Victorian sponge.

More than 40 blind and partially sighted people took to the floor at the NNAB’s Brad-bury Centre in Magpie Road to show that the right music and the right company can still stir the memories of of times gone by.

Organiser Diane Stewart, who is the NNAB’s volunteers’ manager, said the tea dance had important therapeutic value for those who attended, many of whom were residents at the charity’s Thomas Tawell House residential home.

“The smiles on their faces said it all, really,” she said. “For many of them it was the first time they had taken to the dance floor for years and it did them the power of good.”

“One resident, who’s 89, even met up for the first time in more than 70 years with a lady she knew when they were friends together at the age of 15 at the old Gorleston School for the Blind. The memories came flooding back,” said Diane Stewart.

“We really made an effort for them, and one lady told me she thought it was better than going to the Ritz,” she added.

The NNAB laid on professional dancer Donna Poole, from Wymondham to give a few tips and a bit of encouragement to the dancers.

“Donna enjoyed herself – we’re already talking about doing it again. I hope it just shows that being not-so-young and being blind is no handicap to having a fun time,” Diane added.

The tea dance represents yet another service by the NNAB to help registered blind and partially sighted people in Norfolk, and at the other end of the age spectrum, it has just staged the first meeting of its Rainbow Tots Club for children under five and their parents or carers. The charity’s specialist sensory room was available for the youngsters and it provided an excellent opportunity for the adults to meet and chat about common problems, while their young charges had fun.

Both initiatives show how the NNAB is working even harder to develop its “cradle to the grave” services for Norfolk’s 20,000-strong blind community – and it’s all done without a penny piece coming in State aid.

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