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Roger Clarke's Saltaire people
This week: Alex and Louise Eaton

Louise Eaton is following in a long tradition of Saltaire women who have been committed to the performing arts. In 1938, Edith Beaver of the Beavonian School of Dancing staged her third annual pantomime, Dick Whittington, at Victoria Hall.  Ethel Schofield was Principal Boy, and Nancy Pullan was Principal Girl.  Mrs Quarmby always played the Dame – she owned the sweet shop at 16/17, Victoria Road, which is now the Craft and Needlework shop and the Sandwich shop. Miss Beaver herself had the Drapers shop at 9, Victoria Road, and was still trading in 1962.  These premises had been used as a drapers and milliners shop since 1861 – such was the continuity of use of the Victoria Road shops. Victoria Hall has seen many successful shows, and some villagers may remember that the Beatles performed there with Black Dyke Mills Band in 1968.

Louise is best known for her widely acclaimed Day of Dance which has been held twice a year (in May and October) since 1995. October, 2005, was the 23rd Day of Dance which she has organized. The Day was initially organized to promote the newly formed Appalachian Dance Group called “Roll Back the Carpet”.  Louise had first been introduced to Appalachian dancing at the Whitby Folk Festival. The group exploited the talents of Louise and her friends, who ran 11 workshops. Proceeds went to Oxfam.  Louise was amazed that they made £1,832-36 from the workshops and from the Ceilidh/Cajun event on the evening. Now the event has more than 50 workshops – including Salsa, Jive, Tango, Lancashire Clog, Samba, Rock and Roll, Ballet, African, Gypsy, Greek, and drumming classes. The evening events now include a Ceilidh, Salsa, Belly Dancing, Strictly Come Dancing, and Jive. The venues include Victoria Hall, United Reformed Church, Methodist Church, DM Dance Academy, and the Wilson Centre for Dance.

So far it has raised £125,280-64p. The charities include Oxfam; Yorkshire CND; UNICEF; Campaign against the Arms Trade; Amnesty International; Chernobyl Children’s Life Project; Marie Curie Cancer Care; Children’s Intensive Care Unit at St James; and Bradford Scanner Appeal at St Lukes. All the money raised goes to charity, and all the bands and teachers give their time and skills free. Louise says that dance promotes a unique atmosphere of tolerance and understanding.  Apart from the obvious benefits to charities, and also to Saltaire, the Day is intended for people to enjoy themselves and to share with others.  Feedback indicates how many say that the Day changed their lives for the better.  The majority of entrants come as solitary dancers and end with making a large circle of friends.

For all her enthusiasm, Louise has never been a professional dancer.  As a teenager she was interested in ballet, barn dance, and ballroom, with Isadora Duncan as her heroine. But it was not until 1989 that she became interested in Folk Music at the Topic Folk Club, and was introduced to a group called Persephone, Bradford Women’s Morris, where she learned clog dancing.  (Persephone is the Goddess of Spring). Unfortunately, her husband Alex has had a mobility problem since suffering  with polio when he was a child, and could not join in with her interests.  But he has been an active support for her over the years. They now have 4 children and 15 grand-children.

Louise’s choice of charities to support reflects her life-long support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).  She is passionate about influencing world leaders to abandon nuclear weapons, and all weapons of mass destruction. Louise and Alex are a highly principled couple.  They have thought long and hard about the issues of our day, and are willing to fight tenaciously for what they believe to be right. A good example is opposition to the road building proposals which have threatened Saltaire in the past.  They were very active with Clive Woods and other residents in opposing the road through Saltaire in the 1980’s.  Louise remembers dressing up in her Sunday best clothes in which to demonstrate, when the Press had described protesters as “rent-a-rabble”!  There were 13 years of protest, demonstration and the accumulation of evidence before the enquiry even began.
And they were active in opposing the road around Bingley, attending every day of the enquiry.

The couple have lived for 49 years in their present house just outside the Village boundary.
They are well known members of the Village community, who continue to help to shape the regeneration of Saltaire, and to put the Village on the cultural map.

Roger Clarke


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