School friends reunite 67 years later through dancing

Babette Tyerman and Joyce OConnor
Babette Tyerman and Joyce OConnor

When Babette Tyerman, 83, returned to live in her home town of Harrogate in November 2015 after moving away in 1963, she hoped to be able to renew old friendships as well as make new ones.

But for a while she couldn’t find anyone she knew from the past and didn’t find it easy to settle.

She and her husband John had both been keen dancers when they were younger so when they discovered there was a Dancing for Well-Being group that meets every week at Bilton Community Centre, not far from where they live, they decided to try it.

The group offers dance activities that can be done sitting or standing and are suitable for older people who have health and mobility problems. This seemed just right for them.

Babette was delighted to find Dancing for Well-Being was good exercise, but the icing on the cake was that she found an old school friend there - Joyce O’Connor, 83.

She had lost touch with Joyce when in 1949 at the age of 15 they had both left St Peter’s Secondary School (on the site of what is now St Peter’s C of E Primary School on Belford Road).

After nearly 70 years they did not immediately recognise each other, but when Babette introduced herself to the group Joyce decided to ask her if she was the Babette she had been in the same class at school with all those years ago. And she was.

Babette was able to dig out photos from their school days and they have had a wonderful time catching up with each other’s lives and getting to know each other again.

Babette said: ”Joining the Bilton Dancing for Well-Being group has made a big difference to me.

“It’s cheered me up no end getting to talk to and meet new people.

“It’s been so lovely to find Joyce because it seems like most of the people I used to know have gone.”

Babette and Joyce would love to hear from anyone who was at St Peter’s Secondary School with them. To find out more about joining one of the Dancing for Well-Being groups in the Harrogate district, go to www.dancingforwellbeing.org or call Jackie Terry on 01423 531235.