Outstanding Individual Learner Award

Vera Benfield

2015 Runner-up

Although Vera, 85 never had the opportunity to learn dance when she was a child, it did not stop her when she was an adult. Vera has had an incredible lifetime of learning and now inspires others with her passion for dance.

Vera’s learning took off when her daughter started gymnastics because she was determined to get involved. She completed various courses and gained an assistant coach qualification, helping many young gymnasts win competition medals.

In the mid-eighties, Vera trained as an aerobics teacher at her local YMCA in Croydon, where she passed with a distinction. On the course she met a ballet teacher who invited her to ballet lessons every Wednesday, and she has been going ever since.

Vera said: “I never had the opportunity to participate in ballet as a child and I didn’t realise there were opportunities for adults to take it up any time in life. These ballet classes have made me realise anything is possible at any age.

“My husband sadly passed away in early 2000, and my world felt as if it had fallen apart. Since learning ballet and ballroom dancing, and taking part in fitness classes, I have been able to find a new life without him. The skills I have learned and the wonderful friends I have made enable me to have an active and positive outlook on life.”

Vera’s nominator Louise McAlpine said: “Vera is an incredible woman and watching her in class is an inspiration. She never fails to amaze us with her agility: performing the splits at the end of her barre work and her enthusiasm for jumping steps makes us all feel very humbled!”