‘Their grace filled our hearts’ – ex-dancer praises young performers’ show

A former ballet dancer enjoyed a surprise treat when 21 young performers turned up at her Castle View to entertain her and fellow residents.
Jill Kember took a special interest in the visit to Castle View by Dorchester Ballet and Dance Club.

The ex-ballet school student and amateur performer watched as the dancers went through a series of ballet, contemporary pieces and hip hop – which proved a new dance for some of the audience.
She said: “I’m thrilled that the performances were showcased to all residents. The costumes and grace of the dancers filled the hearts of all.”
London-born Jill had polio as a child and, having no access to professional physiotherapy, it was suggested that ballet might help her condition so she was sent to a ballet school in Bromley, Kent.

Members of Dorchester Ballet and Dance Club perform a ballet piece on their visit to Colten Care’s Castle View care home in Poundbury.

“Ballet practice did indeed help,” she said. “I used to dance at events and galas, that kind of thing. It helped my recovery from polio and gave me the chance to live a ‘normal’ adult life.”

Jill continued her interest in ballet while bringing up her family and working as a personal assistant at a Midlands doctors’ practice.

“While I was never a professional, I still love everything about ballet,” she said.

Team members at Castle View have continued to help Jill enjoy her lifelong passion for dance since she moved to the Bridport Road home in March 2021.

Later that same year, they accompanied her to watch stars from the Royal Ballet perform in the grounds of Tudor mansion Athelhampton House, ten miles from Dorchester.

After the show, Jill had a face-to-face chat with Principal Dancers Ryoichi Hirano and Fumi Kaneko.
“We talked about their performance, dance in general and their experience of ballet companies. I was thrilled they spoke with me,” Jill said at the time, adding that one of her fondest memories was seeing the legendary Margot Fonteyn dance: “I still remember seeing her on stage at Covent Garden in 1960. It was in a first-night performance of Les Sylphides and she was astounding.”
Asked for her advice to young dancers, Jill said: “Make sure you find a really good teacher, someone qualified. If you have the desire in your heart for dance then you will dance.”

Discussing the visit by Dorchester Ballet and Dance, Companionship Team member Stephanie Jolliffe said: “Jill and fellow residents loved it. The young visitors performed different dances which some in the audience hadn’t experience before. A huge thank-you to all involved.”

Based at the Swan Centre on the Poundbury West Industrial Estate, Dorchester Ballet and Dance is the largest dance school in Dorchester, offering classes in a range of dance disciplines to adults and children.

It was founded in 1958 by Ann Hannay and Elizabeth Goodchild MBE who wanted to ‘make dance available to all, regardless of age, wealth and ability’.

Residents captivated by Gentlemen of St. John’s 

Castle View residents were left moved and delighted following an evening with the Gentlemen of St. John’s choir
Five residents attended a performance by The Gentlemen of St. John’s at St Peter’s Church, Dorchester.

Nina Lines, Oscar Winsey, Esme Ware, Liz Thompson and Betty Hollywood joined in with the rousing musical programme and later enjoyed a glass of wine with two of the singers.

The Gentlemen of St. John’s is a septet formed of the choral and organ scholars of the world-renowned Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge.

The choir has been performing for over 40 years and its eclectic repertoire spans an incredible six centuries, from the early renaissance to modern day hits.

Our Colten companion Katja Williams, who accompanied the party said: “Nina attends St Peter’s Church and asked some of her fellow residents if they’d like to go with her to the concert. They were extremely keen.

[caption id="attachment_4769" align="alignnone" width="827"] At the request of Nina, who attends St Peters Church in Dorchester, Castle View residents attended an evening with The Gentlemen of St Johns Choir.[/caption]

“The music was hugely diverse, from “Fever” and a “A Hard Day’s Night” to the “Bare Necessities” and our residents had a fabulous time with much foot-tapping, broad smiles and applause.
“Afterwards, Hamish MacGregor and Joe Hancock, both Tenors for the choir took the time to speak to the residents during a Prosecco reception. They were all thrilled and had lots of questions for the singers.”
Esme Ware spoke of how special the evening was for her.
She said: “My late husband loved that type of music and I could feel he was with me during the performance.”
Nina Lines added: “What a delight it was to spend time with my friends and how super and talented the gentlemen are.”

‘Talented and amazing’ mouth artist inspires residents

A prominent disabled artist who paints with his mouth has amazed our residents as they witnessed his skills and technique close up
Rob Trent spent an afternoon demonstrating his artistry to produce a picture of a robin on the branch of a tree in winter.

Rob was born with arthrogryposis, a condition affecting the joints and muscular development.

He developed his talent in art, particularly landscapes and nature scenes, after a home tutor encouraged him to paint by holding the brush in his mouth.

Joining him were residents with an interest in art including Elizabeth Thompson and historian and former school master George Clarke, who continues to paint despite his degenerative eyesight.
George said: “I was particularly interested to see how Rob paints and hear how he has overcome the challenges he has had. He has clear mastery in using his mouth to paint.”
Elizabeth said: “It was wonderful to have Rob visit our home. It was amazing to watch him put his skills into action before our eyes.

“I only came to painting later in life, at the age of 80, but I could appreciate seeing an artist at work.”

Both George and Elizabeth are now looking forward to trying mouth painting for themselves at a forthcoming arts and crafts session.

“You never know,” said Elizabeth, “It could be a hidden talent about to unfold and it will certainly be a fun activity to try.”

Rob, who is from Dorchester and now lives in Hedge End near Southampton, is a member of the disability arts group Mouth & Foot Painting Artists (MFPA).

One of his paintings, of the Houses of Parliament, was chosen as an MFPA Christmas card image.

[caption id="attachment_4797" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Rob Trent at work on his painting during the visit to Castle View [/caption]

Alongside his art, Rob excelled at academic subjects, gained a degree in information science and was a senior manager at national mapping agency Ordnance Survey before taking early retirement in 2018.

He has served as a trustee of the charity Disability Rights UK and is managing director of AccessAdvisr, a web platform for and by disabled people keen to improve accessibility in the built environment.

He is also a trustee of Flat Spaces, a Hampshire disability holiday provider.
Reflecting on his visit to Castle View, Rob said: “I was delighted to be asked to come and meet the residents.
“It was an ideal opportunity to talk about how much I have loved painting since I was a child and how the MFPA have given me the freedom to develop as an artist.
“I found Castle View to be a lovely place, so warm and engaging and with everyone there very happy. I had a great time and was well looked after.”
Katja Williams, our Companionship Team Leader, said: “Rob’s visit left all who attended feeling inspired. He is a very talented man.”