A ‘belly’ good time at classes

Margaret Marshall with Anna Forster, from BBC Radio Newcastle.
Margaret Marshall with Anna Forster, from BBC Radio Newcastle.
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A retired teacher is having a ‘belly’ good time teaching the art of belly-dancing.

Margaret marshall, 73, is leading free weekly classes at the Whitley Bay Big Local Shop in the town – and it is proving a real hit with people of all ages.

Having taken up belly-dancing in her 40s, the grandmother-of-one has kept up the hobby and is now sharing her love for the eastern art with others in the town every Friday afternoon.

Margaret said: “I pop along to the Big Local shop most weekends with my granddaughter to take part in one of the free activities on offer.

“One day, they ran an Eastern morning and there were people there doing Henna painting and Eastern-style food, so I suggested that I bring some of my costumes for people to try on.

“Everyone liked it so I suggested holding a taster dance session which has now become a weekly event.”

She added: “I’m not a qualified belly dancing teacher; these sessions are informal, but people do seem to enjoy them.”

Participants are given colourful costumes and jewellery to wear while Margaret teaches moves like the figure of eight, shoulder shimmies and the camel walk and traditional music is played.

Sarah Sutton, volunteer coordinator for Whitley Bay Big Local, added: “Margaret’s sessions are great fun and are wonderful example of how our community can work together to share skills.

“We have an increasing number of local residents who are more than happy to share their skills with others and have helped us to bring a vibrant mix of activities in to the shop which is helping us to engage with people from all walks of life and encourage a real sense of community.”

Claire Pollock, a regular at the class, added: “I went along to the taster session and absolutely loved it.

“I’m a busy mum-of-three and this is a great way to incorporate exercise in to my day whilst having good fun and meeting new people.

“Nobody takes themselves too seriously but it’s certainly a lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon. I’d recommend it to anyone.”