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Knutsford care home residents with over 178 years of dancing receive magical surprise

Highlighted home news

A Knutsford care home surprised two of its residents with a special performance of Swan Lake.

The team at Care UK’s Cranford Grange, on Hall Lane, decided to surprise two residents by arranging a ballet performance for former dancers, Joan Cliff, and Gillian Middleton, in the home’s lounge.

Joan, aged 93, was born in Manchester in 1930 and started dancing ballet at the age of three, before learning tap dancing at 16. Passionate about dance, Joan began teaching ballet at a local ballet school.

Married in 1952, Joan also took up ballroom dancing with her husband, Neil Cliff, which they enjoyed for many years. Having danced most of her life, Joan hasn’t forgotten all her ballet positions and posture.

Gillian, aged 91, was born in Wilmslow in 1932 and loved dance and drama from an early age. Aged just 16, Gillian was praised by famous ballet dancer, Dame Margot Fonteyn, which inspired her to join the Northern School of Music and Drama. This led to her landing leading roles in many productions at the Green Room Theatre in Wilmslow. 

Gillian decided to pursue dance full-time and became an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance, before being promoted to national examiner for the company. At the age of 91, Gillian still loves to dance and can still touch the floor with both hands flat. 

Keen to give Joan and Gillian, along with the other residents at Cranford Grange, a memorable experience, the team arranged for Fuchsia School of Dance to visit the home and perform their rendition of Swan Lake. Both retired dancers loved the routine praising the young dancer's technique.

Joan said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the day; it brought back so many great memories of when I used to dance as a young girl. I remember how disciplined training was and that is why Gillan and I have such great posture in our 90s.”

Gillian added: “Swan Lake and the Nutcracker are my favourite ballet performances, so it was lovely to see the children perform it. It reminded me of when I used to perform as a child.”

Lisa Burrows, General Manager at Cranford Grange, said: “Here at Cranford Grange, we love to go above and beyond for residents. Both Joan and Gillian always share their life-long passion for dance and performing, so we were really excited to organise this wonderful performance.

“It was a lovely afternoon, and it was great to see everyone so engaged during the performance – the dancers were mesmerising! It was wonderful to hear Joan and Gillian both share fond memories from their successful careers.

“We want to say a massive thank you to Wendy Arshamian, Director of the performance and the amazing participants from Fuchsia School of Dance, for joining us they were all outstanding. We hope to see the dancers again and we look forward to creating more memorable experiences for residents that draw on their past passions!” 

Designed to enable residents to live active and fulfilled lives, while also promoting independence, Cranford Grange, incorporates space for hobby and leisure activities. The home has been configured into a series of neighbourhoods to help facilitate the creation of close-knit communities and encourage social interaction among the residents.

Open to new residents

Hall Lane, Mobberley, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 7DZ

Cranford Grange

CQC Rating: Good
  • Residential care
  • Dementia care
  • Nursing care
  • Respite care
  • End of life care
  • Nursing dementia care
  • Day club

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