At 2 o’clock on a Friday afternoon we had a full house and the room was buzzing with excitement for the Claremont Singers Spring concert! The tremendous amount of support for the singers was marvellous to see. One song in particular really resonated: ‘What the world needs now is love’. It highlighted that we are all connected: by friendship, celebration, and through mattering to each other. In the current climate of conflict and struggle, it does feel that the world desperately needs more love. Special shared moments like the Claremont Singers Friday concert are ones we can cherish and feel proud to be a part of.
Easter party excitement was in the air when seventy of us joined together, dressed to impress, for the vintage-themed Easter party. The room was decorated beautifully and the smell of cooking filled the air. A buffet lunch of soup, pasta, omelettes, salads, and chicken drumsticks was followed by fruit, cheese, chocolate cakes, brownies, and traditional apple crumble. We then took part in a quiz, testing everybody’s knowledge of Easter traditions. After the quiz, the Sunshine Kings performed some upbeat swing jazz, and we danced the afternoon away. As the day came to an end, we began to wind down, and nibbled on some leftover food and dessert. The party was a real success, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
On a sunny afternoon in April, Claremont welcomed a visit from dancers Wayne Sleep OBE and Lady Sainsbury, aka Anya Linden. Both inspirational figures, they have contributed a huge amount to the dancing world and as philanthropists. Lady Sainsbury danced as a ballerina with the Royal Ballet, working with choreographers including the great Frederick Ashton, John Cranko, and Kenneth MacMillan. She married John Sainsbury in 1963, whose mother was a dancer with de Valois. Lady Sainsbury retired as a ballerina after her second child. With her husband, Sir John, Lady Sainsbury now manages the Linbury Trust which gives up to £5m a year to charities, and her Linbury Prize for Stage Design is an important stepping stone for young designers entering professional life. The Linbury Trust has also been generous to the work of Claremont, including the provision of a beautiful new sprung dance floor in the Old Hall. Wayne Sleep began singing and dancing at an early age. His tenacity, aspiration, and zest for life made him a wondrous senior principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, which he joined around the time that Lady Sainsbury left. Wayne has had many parts created for him, both in ballet and musicals. He himself created and performed the infamous role of Mr. Mistoffelees in West End hit Cats! Wayne continues to perform and to support young dancers through his charitable foundation. Their visit to Claremont kicked-off with a vibrant performance from Claremont’s Funky Disco Dancers. Lucien Paul Stanfield then interviewed our guests and facilitated questions from the audience. The hall was completely packed and the atmosphere spirited! Thank you to everyone who came.
This year Claremont celebrated International Women’s Day by hosting a whole week of events, trips, discussions and activities! This year’s International Women’s Day theme was ‘Pair for Parity’, focusing on striving for further gender equality worldwide. At Claremont we began our week of events with an IWD activity day, with crafts, quizzes and card-making for important women in our lives. The week continued with a trip and guided tour around the Saatchi gallery’s all female-artist exhibition, Champagne Life. At the end of the week, on a Friday afternoon, we enjoyed a ‘Pair for Parity’ panel discussion chaired by Karis (who was doing her internship at Claremont) with Victoria Showunmi (UCL), Monsura Mahmud (Solace Women’s Aid) and Bula Chakravarty-Agbo (South London Women’s Artists). The discussion generated a great forum to discuss and challenge gender roles, as well as highlighting the many successes and achievements of women! We also hosted an interesting seminar run by our centre and clinical manager at Claremont Project, Dr Claire Marshall. Claire opened by emphasising the importance of distinguishing between sex and gender; relating sex with our physical appearance and gender with an idea created by society. We then heard touching stories from: Sylvia Dolan, Cecilia Abdeen, Joan Ball, Heather Ottway, Lori Keifer and Isabelle Matthews. They shared their fascinating experiences, covering a range of topics including; love, domestic violence, sexual discrimination and career development. It was a heartfelt afternoon of honest sharing. It also highlighted how society has changed, and how much more still needs to improve on issues of gender equality. It was a truly fantastic week of events—thank you to everyone who participated.