Tribute to Wembley’s Mary Bryant who taught dance into her 80s
PUBLISHED: 14:53 27 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:53 27 December 2017
A “positive, funny and upbeat” dancer who taught keep fit, tap and ballroom to thousands of people in Brent well into her 80s has died.
Mary Bryant, who lived in Paxford Road, Wembley, passed away on December 13, just days away from her 93rd birthday on Christmas Day.
The popular instructor taught at Vale Farm Sports Centre, in Watford Road, until five years ago and stopped only when she fell down some steps and damaged her leg.
Her son, Paul Bryant, said: “She kept up dancing from before the war. She won a number of awards and was a finalist for the Pride of Britain awards in 2009.
“She’s been in a nursing home for the past three and a half years following a badly broken leg where she had great care and was always positive, funny and upbeat.”
Among her many experiences was appearing with Sting in his 1982 “Spread a Little Happiness” video which reached number 16 in the UK charts.
She also entertained crowds at Wembley Stadium during half time at the 1956 FA cup final.
Mary left school at 14 to work as a tracer with the Crypto Company in Park Royal.
Paul added: “She got a scholarship as a young girl to study dance and drama with Maude Allan an actress and exotic dancer, a contemporary of Isadora Duncan and Mata Hari.
“During the war Mary trained to teach ballroom dancing with world champions and became a well-known Keep Fit instructor, an honorary life member of the Keep Fit Association teaching at a number of rallies at the Royal Albert Hall.”
She became a PE instructor in 1942 and was a part-time instructor with Brent Council for more than half a century.
Her passion saw her teach ballroom and tap at a Catholic remand home in Willesden, the Linacre Road youth club, Vale Farm, Sudbury Neighbourhood Centre and Northwick Park Hospital.
She organised pantomimes, festivals and helped raise thousands for charities including Mencap.
Chris Williams, contract manager at Vale Farm, said: “Mary worked at Vale Farm Sports Centre for a long time and built up a large following to her classes she was much loved by all those that attended her classes at the centre and got to know her and I’m sure they will all remember her fondly.”
Tiffany Johnson, Everyone Active’s general manager said: “Mary was a much loved colleague and a pivotal part of the team. She bought a smile to our members and colleagues faces and will be dearly missed.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”
Mary’s funeral will be held at Breakspear crematorium in Ruislip at 1.30pm on January 3.