Just do it – and dance

Rita's rhythms

Dance has been her lifelong love

A lifelong love of dancing has helped keep Rita Butcher fit and flexible into her mid -80s – a passion that was supported by foster carers who looked after her in childhood.

‘My father was killed in the war when I was a toddler and my mother couldn’t cope so put me into a home and I was encouraged to dance and given proper lessons,’ she said.


This fuelled the passion throughout her childhood and teen years, when she on to teach – building up a dance school with over 300 pupils over the years.

‘I just loved it,’ said Rita. ‘I was very lucky because my mother asked to take me back even though the carers wanted to adopt me.  She couldn’t afford the lessons but they very kindly continued to pay. It was very kind.’

Rita left school at 15 but her determination was such she hired a Sunday school for her first dance school, not knowing if anyone would turn up.  At first they didn’t but soon people got to hear about the young girl teaching ballet, modern and tap – and it wasn’t long before she had the biggest school in Bournemouth.

‘I had to be independent so just got on with it. Looking back that was quite an enterprise but I didn’t think too much about it.’

Large family

Now with nine great grandchildren, ten biological grandchildren and an adopted grandchild, Rita keeps herself very busy with family which also includes three sons and a daughter.

‘I speak to at least one of them every day. The call me The Queen which is a term of endearment,’ she added.

Despite having recently had a mini-stroke, Rita doesn’t let anything get in the way of her having a full and varied life.  She is a regular contributor to the Pavilion Show in Bournemouth and plans many trips out– the next being to see The Lion King with a group of friends.

‘I don’t let the fact I had a stroke get in the way of what I can do.  I’m not very good on stairs now but other than that still get out and about. It would be very easy to sit down and do nothing but you need to get the blood circulating.’

Next adventures

She now has plans to do some sky diving – something she has wanted to do for a while.

‘I was going to do it before I had my stroke but I still fancy giving it a go,’ said Rita.

Losing her husband six years ago was devastating and she says she still misses him every minute of every day but it grateful to her children who make sure she has plenty of company and lots to do – including regular baby and dog sitting.

Keeping up with friends and family

Being part of a big family means parties are ‘always fun’ said Rita who said she likes to buy bits of extra make-up for the youngsters of the family to play with.

‘Otherwise they’ll be after mine, so I get them their own to play with.  A bit here and a bit there means they have their own collection!’

Rita still keeps up with her husband’s Navy friends and their families – and enjoys gathering with them for various occasions.

‘It’s no good saying you don’t want to go out for whatever reason. You need to get on with it. My life has changed but there is plenty to enjoy.’