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Wolverhampton teacher, 83, awarded medal for life of dance

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

She's been dancing for almost 70 years and has influenced generations of dancers. And now a woman who has dedicated her life to dancing has been honoured with the British Empire Medal.

Sheila Groom has run her dance school in Wolverhampton since she was 15 years old – and she's 83.

She has also raised money for a host of charities since 1946 and her contribution to the city has been officially recognised with the prestigious honour.

Her medal was announced in the Queen's Birthday Honours list and she picked it up from the city's mayor, Councillor Milkinder Jaspal, in a special ceremony.

Families and friends were invited to join her in the mayor's parlour where the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands Paul Sabapathy gave her the honour.

Sheila as Shirley Temple while performing her West Midlands-based dance show

Sheila first took to the stage aged nine and still clocks up more than 20 hours a week. She said: "I'm really honoured to receive this – it took my breath away when I found out.

"And to have the ceremony done here locally in the heart of the city was lovely.

"Seventy years of dancing is a long time but it's nice to be recognised."

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Her studio, which sits in the grounds of her Oxley home, hosts the Sheila Groom Dance School and has run for so long she now teaches the grandchildren of some of her original students.

Sheila first took to the stage aged nine with her impersonation of Hollywood child star Shirley Temple and took her 'Wolverhampton's Shirley Temple' show across the region.

The British Empire Medal is given to people who are dedicated to improving their communities. Mr Sabapathy paid tribute to Sheila and said: "For nearly 70 years Sheila has devoted herself to the professional education and development of young people and the service of her community.

"Every year she has organised charity theatre shows, demonstrations and other events and has raised thousands of pounds for a wide range of organisations."

In 2006 Sheila received a Certificate of Excellence from the mayor of Wolverhampton in recognition of the outstanding services she has given to the city.

She has also being recognised by the Royal Academy of Dance. A number of Sheila's dance school pupils have turned professional – becoming choreographers, actors and running their own dance schools.

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