Husband’s tribute to dance teacher

Peggy Drake, nee Hale
Peggy Drake, nee Hale

A ballet teacher who ran a hugely popular dance school in Kettering for more than three decades has died at the age of 90.

Peggy Drake, nee Hale, who lived in St Mary’s Road, was born and raised in Kettering and began dancing at a young age – making her first on-stage appearance in 1935 with Kettering Pantomime Society.

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

She was taught to dance by, among others, Felix Demery, who was one of the founder members of the Royal Ballet.

Her husband of 61 years, John Drake, 87, paid tribute to his wife, who died at home on Friday, April 26.

He said: “For many years Peggy’s name was synonymous with dance in Kettering.

“She taught thousands of young people to dance at the old Royal British Legion hall and some of them then began to teach other people to dance in other parts of the country.”

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

Mr Drake said people from all over the country had told him they were coming to the funeral.

Mrs Drake served with 12 Group Fighter Command in the RAF during the Second World War as a plotter.

However, the war did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm for dancing as she taught other women in the RAF to dance and they put on shows for RAF personnel.

She and husband John met when he began attending her dance classes after he left the army.

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

A number of years later, in 1954, Mrs Drake set up her own dance school which she ran until 1985.

Among her pupils was the then Rothwell youngster Jim Dale, who went on to appear in many Carry On films and West End shows.

After retiring, she and her husband said they wanted to enjoy their retirement as much as possible.

Mrs Drake suffered a stroke about 12 years ago, after which her husband became her full-time carer.

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

Peggy Drake, nee Hale

Her funeral is being held at Kettering Crematorium at 2.15pm on Tuesday, May 14.

Mr Drake is creating a charitable trust in his wife’s name, which will donate money to Cransley Hospice.