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‘I just feel free, free like a bird’: Meet the 92-year-old ballet student

A 92-year-old has opened up about the benefits of life long learning as she celebrates her twenty-seventh consecutive year studying ballet at a South London college.

Sheila Wedgwood, first took up dance classes at Morley College London in Westminster Bridge Road, Waterloo, in 1997 when she retired from her life long career as a teacher.

Each week the dedicated student attends Regenerate Ballet – a demanding ninety minute ballet class.  

Celebrating the final class of the summer term last week, Mrs Wedgwood explained how much Morley’s weekly ballet class means to her.

She said: “Ballet is the passion of my life.

“Taking part in the class I feel free, particularly when we do the jumps. I just feel free, free like a bird.”

Sheila Wedgwood celebrated her twenty-seventh consecutive year studying ballet at Morley College (Picture: Morley College London)

Mrs Wedgwood’s ballet teacher, Liora Goldwater, has taught Mrs Wedgwood ballet at Morley since 2011.  

Ms Godlwater said: “Sheila is amazing to dance at 92. She loves dance like nothing else, she just really enjoys doing it. 

“She always wanted to dance but didn’t have the chance when she was younger.  She has probably been doing ballet for as long as I have!”

Mrs Wedgwood said she especially values Ms Goldwater’s support and guidance. 

She said: “Liora runs the class like we are training for the Royal Ballet – without being patronising!

“We all value her so much.”

Sheila Wedgwood reading to students during her time as a special needs teacher in Wandsworth (Picture: Sheila Wedgwood)

Mrs Wedgwood formerly worked as a special needs school teacher in Wandsworth.  

Married with four grown-up children and two grandchildren, at home Mrs Wedgwood cares for her husband, Julian Wedgwood, 88, who experiences memory problems. 

She explained that attending the weekly ballet class gives her time to switch off from her caring responsibilities.

She said: “I think Morley is more than just a place where you pursue your interests. I think it contributes greatly to your mental health.”

An avid learner, Mrs Wedgwood has also taken Italian courses and singing courses at Morley College during her retirement years.    

Sheila Wedgwood aged 70 at home (Picture: Sheila Wedgwood)

Last year her commitment to learning was recognised by Morely College London when she received a Morley Student Award for Life-Long Learning.   

Mrs Wedgwood is not the only one in her family to enjoy creative classes at the Waterloo based institution.

Her son Crispin Wedgwood, 71, attends singing classes while her daughter-in-law enjoys jewellery and stained glass courses. 

A passionate advocate for lifelong learning Mrs Wedgwood said: “Learning is for life. You never stop learning. 

Sheila Wedgwood said she will restart her ballet classes after the summer break in September (Picture: Morley College London)

“I will never reach perfection in ballet but there is nothing to stop me striving for it.”

And she is not ready to give up just yet with plans to restart ballet classes in September. 

“It’s never too late to try something new”, she said.

Founded in 1889, Morley College London is the capital’s largest institute of adult learning, offering more than two thousand different courses from visual arts and painting to art history music education to podcasting and music production courses, humanities, dance, languages and wellbeing.

To find out more visit: https://www.morleycollege.ac.uk/

Pictured top: Sheila Wedgwood during on of her weekly Regenerate Ballet classes at Morley College (Picture: Morley College London)


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