Written by Mike Allsop

Looe resident Julie, the beloved Mrs A, has been awarded the honour of an MBE in His Majesty the King’s New Year Honours List in recognition of her services to Dance Education and of her amazing Performing Career with New York’s famous Dance Theatre of Harlem Ballet Company.

Her story is one of a young girl who fell in love with ballet and aspired to join one of the countries leading ballet companies.

She was, however, told that whilst she had the talent, it was the colour of her skin that prevented her from being offered a professional contract.....it was said that mixed race dancer in a line of white swans could not be!

Following that heartbreaking rejection a twist of fortune offered Julie a professional contract in the US and a glittering career she could never have had in the UK.

Julie went on to become the Principal dancer with New York’s world renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem and performed for President Ronald Reagan, Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Jackson and also closed the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics with Lionel Ritchie before a viewing audience of many millions worldwide.

She returned to the UK in the late 1980s to take up a teaching and remedial coach role with Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet later to reform as Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Having moved to Looe 5 years ago, interest in her life story, her published biography, Brickbats and Tutus, and demand for her teaching services have risen despite the move being considered a semi retirement for us both.

This award follows her being made an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University in 2022 and several other charitable engagements.

Whilst there are a number of interviews lined up, including BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio 4 and ITV, I did ensure that her first post-award interview was with Liskeard Radio which can be found on our Facebook page dated 3rd January 2024.

Looe and Liskeard Aid to Ukraine Trip

News coverage of the Ukrainian battle for survival has recently dropped way down the headlines yet still their plight continues with civilian lives being lost everyday and the need for international aid growing evermore important.

On February 10 2024, Liskeard Mayor Simon Cassidy and myself will be travelling to The Ukraine to deliver a van loaded with medical supplies and humanitarian aid to the people of the war-torn country.

This effort will be made as representatives of our towns, Looe and Liskeard 

For local aid organisation ‘Cornwall and Devon Sending Love to Ukraine’ this will be their 19th trip and we will form part of a convoy of vans from the two counties.

We will, of course, be looking to document our journey to raise and maintain awareness of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Whilst drivers give their time and efforts for free the cost of the van hire, fuel, ferry charges and basic accommodation for the 5-day round trip have to be found at around £1500 per vehicle.

We are asking local businesses and residents to help us achieve our goal of taking a fully-laden vehicle representing Looe and Liskeards generosity, good will and love for the people of war-torn Ukraine. 

We have set up a funding page for donations of any size towards these costs all of which will be gratefully received.

A link will be added to our Liskeard Radio Facebook Page.

If you are otherwise in a position to help with supplies below is a list of urgently-needed items we can take across to those that need it most.

Drop off points are at Looe Library and Liskeard Public Hall.

Donations can include:

Nappies of all sizes, baby, food for all ages. 

Premature and new-born baby clothes, sleeping bags, airbeds, defibrillators, first aid equipment, trauma kits, burns kits, first responder bags.

All over-the-counter medication, personal hygiene, toiletries and sanitary products.

Foil blankets, power banks, generators, thermal socks, thermal underwear.

Hand and feet warmers.

Any and all medical equipment. 

Wheelchairs, walking frames and mobility aids.