Cindy Blunden ( Now Knight )
Dancing and me -
Apologies before I start, this is just from memory and this was a very long time ago.
I started dancing at the age of 4, When my mum visited her sister in Penge to have her hair done by Carole from the Royston. I went on a Friday evening and remember watching the adults dance from behind the curtains. On the way home we would get fish and chips and eat them on the sofa trying to stay awake for 10.30 to watch Come Dancing (which I never did) but my parents would wake me up to watch it. I dreamt one day I would appear on it and never in a million years did I think it would come true.
Sadly, we were unable to keep dancing at the Royston, so then moved to the Regal (over the cinema) in Beckenham, then the Rivoli in Crofton Park, I loved dancing at the Rivoli, as my Uncle and Aunty lived in the next road and I used to pop in for a proper cup of tea in a china cup and homemade fruit cake which was very special.
I trained taking all my medals in juvenile and junior in Ballroom and Latin including dancing as man and even some disco ones too.
The All Girls formation team was formed and I danced with Lynne Shanks, now Tolhurst. As we lived near each other her parents became my dancing parents often giving me lifts in their bright green mini.
We had so much fun making so many memories, appearing on Blue Peter, dancing at the Tower of London. Going on a coach to competitions, with Elaine putting our hair up in a bun on the way. My mum used to always make me cheese and ham rolls which felt very special as in those days you had one or the other due to cost. We travelled all over and often to Leamington Spa which now seems so random. We went to Blackpool for a week in May which was so exciting, we trained on the beach, went for days out to Lake Windermere and danced in the British Formation Championships at the Tower Ballroom, at the end of the week supported by family and friends. (…More to read after following pictures )
We went to Blackpool and won the adult Formation championships. We competed all over the country once a month as couples (I danced with Russell Waite) and formation. Appeared on This is your Life with Judith Chalmers, Wilkinson Sword advert, Halifax advert, In the deep End, Carl Allen Awards dancing in the Albert Hall. Travelled to Holland and Germany to represent England in the World Formation and European Championships and came third which was fantastic with Germany first and second, often staying in big fancy hotels. Travelling by coach with everyone and the ballroom team was so exciting and I remember being stopped by customs and them saying, all out including dresses!! Luckily it was on our way home. At one championship Len Goodman was there training the German teams (photo in his book with us standing behind him and it looks like my head is on his shoulders). When asked why? His reply was "Money darling money". ( More to read after pictures below )
I can still hear the noise of our supporters up high in the gods especially when we won and became British Junior Champions. I can remember walking on the floor as winners and the tears of joy running down my face, what a moment.
As I got older I used to teach the tiny tots before our classes and travel to The Arnhem Gallery in Croydon to help teach the classes there too, which I loved.
At sixteen I joined the adult Latin team, oh my word Peggy finally allowed us to wear full on make up what a dream that was, although I was scared wearing a blonde wig and really thought it would fall off while being pulled through the man's legs in the jive. My first competition was at the Rivoli which was where we trained. I was looked after by the team as I was the youngest and as time went on our dresses got smaller and sexier (I still have my two of these dresses). Peggy now moved the Dance Centre which was fantastic having a home base to train in. (….More after the following pictures )
Dancing at the world formation championships note the T.V. Camera on the extreme left
( see picture further down the page )
Cindy in her team uniform, note the British Team badge and the scarf ( see later text ).
Cindy, ( second girl on the left ) in the adult Latin Team. Arduous work ! Notice the bandages on the girls feet in the centre of the picture and far right.
Cindy competing with Russel Waite at the Spencer Dance Centre Penge.
Competing with the formation team at the Winter Gardens Blackpool with the spectator seating packed to capacity !
En route to Blackpool outside the Regal Ballroom Beckenham with the team, Cindy is far left of the picture
Another British Championship with the formation team at the Winter Gardens Blackpool with the spectator seating again packed to capacity !
Cindy’s 1980 British Latin formation champions medal.
Cindy’s invitation to the Carl Alan Awards ceremony.
The front cover of the programme of events from the Carl Alan Awards
Television coverage of the World Championships ! Remember the picture above ?
Another trip to the World Championships for Cindy and the team in 1982 and …..
…... to prove it Cindy’s entry ticket to the venue and below that her airline ticket to fly from Heathrow !
The competing teams at the World Championships parade before the competition. Cindy is on the left of the picture.
Note Peggy Spencer in the centre of the picture on guard to ensure that her British Team are looking smart and in perfect formation even for this part of the competition !
That’s perfection for you !
One of my very special achievements was to take the Peggy Spencer Award and I could choose any dances I wanted, for this I trained with Jake Hooker (the new dance school owner) over the summer and really enjoyed it. I wore my Formation scarf just to take a little bit of Peggy with me. Getting such high marks was a special personal achievement of mine and treasured possession. (….More after pictures )
I have been working with SEN students for many years and although not qualified as a dance teacher I have always taught my students to dance which is very satisfying watching them gain in confidence especially as they all have their own limitations. This has surprised everyone on what is achievable. My students know when I say get ready they all stand up arms by their side head up and feet together -
My five year old granddaughter has just started dancing and it is so wonderful to watch her start her dancing to see where it takes her.
Roy and I have now been married for over 33 years. I now train three hours a week, work full time, have three grandchildren, two dogs and run a busy home but wouldn't have it any other way. Dancing is good mentally as well as physically and is my happy place. I feel uplifted after I have trained and driving home late at night reminds me of those days leaving the Dance Centre forty years ago.
I feel I have been so lucky and honoured to have done so much and met so many people through dancing and it is still continuing, Peggy you have been such a major part of my life which still continues.
Hope you enjoyed this and it brought back memories for you too.
Just to end, my mum used to describe her children to everyone in one word…….
mine was -
Above and left:-
The best part of being in the adult team was to represent Home Counties South on Come Dancing, yes that little girls dream had come true, who would of thought it. We travelled all over to random places to film each series meeting so many famous people even danced in Park Lane in a posh hotel. Dorchester I think.
We even formed our own offbeat team "Boobs and Braces" putting routines together in our own homes although we spent most of our time laughing !
I was working for a Fashion House in the West End, which Peggy loved as it happened to be one of her favourite brands (multi-
Sadly, our formation team came to an end. I then saved and travelled to Australia. I met Roy got married and had three boys. During this time, I have always wanted to get back to dancing but found it difficult with a young family. My eldest son did attend the Dance Centre and took a couple of medals he even danced with Yvette Fielding on a program she was making. Who would of thought it? We moved to Sussex twenty three years ago and couldn't find a dance school nearby. So I concentrated on my boys who all played football so spent every weekend taking them to matches all over Sussex.
I was told about a Dance School in Hove about six years ago and although not near me, called them to find that the then owner Caroline's mum, Julie Allen, who had started the school had trained at Peggy's (small world). I felt right at home here and haven't looked back since. I went to do my teacher training but was advised to take medals and compete just to see how things have changed. Which is what I have done and oh my word I absolutely love it. It was really hard at first being more than double the age and size but once I'm on that dance floor nothing else matters. Ordering dresses on line from China is an experience, putting false eye lashes on again and having a spray tan, all things I have had to learn but have amazing people around me who I now call my dancing family and friends. ( ….More after following pictures. )
Cindy “doing her thing” as a member of
“Boobs and Braces”
And loving every moment of it.
Left & Right:-
Cindy wearing some of her latest dresses.
Cindy with ex-
I Compete most months and go back to Blackpool for our British Medallist Championships in November. Here I have made it to the final twelve in both Ballroom and Latin, fingers crossed making it to the final one day. Have even travelled to compete in Germany! Something I thought I would have never done again. I even dance in couples with Sarah which is so much fun we laugh a lot and is like going full circle.
( More after pictures…..)
Above left & right:-
Above and below:-
Cindy taking part in 2016,
Cindy is bottom left of the picture.