Last dance as time called on Sunderland’s Seaburn Centre

Last dance at Seaburn Centre. Group's John and Jean Hepple
Last dance at Seaburn Centre. Group's John and Jean Hepple

Dancers teachers have taken to the floor where they have helped people perfect their moves for more than three decades for the last time.

Husband and wife duo Jean and John Hepple have held the sessions at Sunderland’s Seaburn Centre since the venue first opened in the mid-1980s.

Last dance at Seaburn Centre. Group's John and Jean Hepple

Last dance at Seaburn Centre. Group's John and Jean Hepple

But the leisure centre closed at the weekend as council chiefs prepare the area for major redeveopment.

The Pullman Lodge, which had hosted weddings and other functions just yards away from the Seaburn Centre, is now being demolished.

Development company Siglion is now looking to create new housing, seaside retail and leisure facilities in the prime seafront area.

Mrs Hepple said leaving the centre was disappointing, but the sessions will continue.

Last dance at Seaburn Centre. Early days almost 30 years ago

Last dance at Seaburn Centre. Early days almost 30 years ago

“Our last dance session has been a bit emotional because we all have so many nice memories of being there,” she said.

“A lot of people have been involved over the years, and of course some are no longer with us, so it’s been a time to remember them.

“More than 50 people have turned out so we’ve had a good time but we have to move on.”

Mrs Hepple and her husband have been dance teachers since the 1980s and at one point were involved with seven classes each week.

Although they are not as busy these days, the sessions, which see members perform 50/50, ballroom and sequence dances, will now take place at Mill View Social Club, in Sea Road, in nearby Fulwell.

“It’s sad that the centre is closing for a lot of people, not just us,” added Mrs Hepple, of Penshaw.

“Some people blame the council but maybe the place has become a bit of a white elephant.

“Hopefully whatever is put in its place, such as housing and restaurants, will get more people to come to the seafront.”

Those looking to take part in the dance sessions run by Mr and Mrs Hepple can do so by going to Mill View Social Club on Thursdays from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

Admission is £2.50 per person, with tea and coffee provided.