True Christmas spirit at Hitchin dance school’s open-door party
Danny Loo Photography 2017
The Christmas spirit was shared across generations when older members of the community visited a Hitchin dance school for a day of festive food and music.
More than 70 people came to the free Spare Chair event held at the Emil Dale Academy in Wilbury Way on Friday – hosted by Emil to instil community spirit into his young students.
A 7ft Christmas tree donated by Wyevale Garden Centre stood in pride of place as guests tucked into a sumptuous Christmas dinner, then heard the first-year students belt out a six-minute medley of festive favourites.
All guests received a present, a hand-written card, Christmas pudding and mince pies.
Student George Lynham, 16, said: “I was moved by the smiles that some of the wonderful people had and the stories they had to tell. After being called beautiful by one lady, I returned the compliment by calling her beautiful too, and her response will stay with me forever.
“She replied: ‘The last time I was called that was 15 years ago by my husband.’ It both warmed and melted my heart.”
A highlight came when Julian Smith, who is partially blind, played the piano for the whole room – bringing tears to eyes with his jazz rendition.
Sylviane Quiney, 70, said: “Julian was nearly crying on the way home as he spends most of his days on his own in a cold house.
“His love of playing the piano is the only thing he has now – and to have let him play today was something he will cherish for a long time. He has offered to come and play whenever you want.”
She added: “I was overwhelmed by the kindness of all the students and the interest they showed in the elderly people. It was really heartwarming.”
Sylviane’s words set the tone for the numerous letters of thanks Emil and the team have received since Friday. Nan Everett told Emil: “You must be the most generous man in Hertfordshire, probably in the UK. Well, you certainly are in my book.
“To give elderlies whom you don’t know from Adam such a super Christmas Lunch, a lovely drink or two, waited on by smiling caring youngsters who also entertained us, then send us home with a present – if that isn’t generosity with a capital G, I don’t know what is.”
Sean Maxwell added that his mum and her friends had been “overwhelmed by the generosity, and particularly the messages in the cards”.
He said: “It’s a great thing that you do for the community. Hitchin should be very proud to have the Emil Dale Academy in its town.”
The academy’s Jesse Clements said the team would like to thank all the individuals and businesses that helped with the event and donated food.