Kent

Sittingbourne widower learns ballet and passes exam

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Media captionBernard Bibby started ballet lessons four years ago

A 75-year-old man who took up ballet classes following the death of his wife has passed his grade one exam.

Bernard Bibby was married to Celia for 55 years after dancing brought them together because he was "the only boy at the youth club who could jive".

He took the exam in November after starting ballet lessons four years ago.

Mr Bibby, from Sittingbourne in Kent, said: "I got a bronze. I'm still a bit speechless. Three more points and I could have got a silver."

After losing his wife in January 2015, Mr Bibby said the first thing he did was to sell his television so he would go out.

"I did ballroom and Latin dancing," he said.

"I tried tap dancing but the teacher said I was a typical Englishman - stiff and starchy and wouldn't stick my bum out and wiggle it around."

Mr Bibby said the teacher told him he should "limber up" and suggested ballet.

Mr Bibby said he did try tap dancing one more time, but did not think he had "the legs for it".

"Ballet is quite restful, and you have to learn French as well. It's good fun," he said.

"I just wish more men would get out and do it. It's a fantastic exercise routine."

Mr Bibby attends a weekly class at The Bridge Academy of Performing Arts in Rochester, run by ballet teacher Clare Wilders.

"He brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm," she said.

"We're really proud of him, it's absolutely amazing.

"We thoroughly enjoy having him in the school and he's encouraging other adults to get involved."

Image copyright Tamsin Smith
Image caption Bernard Bibby took the exam in November

Mr Bibby is now practising for his grade two ballet exam but said he drew the line at performing on the stage.

"I don't suppose I could remember all the steps and lift the ballerinas," he said.

"But I'm going to keep going until they put me in a wheelchair."

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