It’s strictly tap - and it goes on

Tapathon 2011. Handing over the shoes. Vera and Derek Hamer, Fiona Castle, Ashley Nelson, Janet Austin, Elliot Austin, Felicity Austin and Olivia Austin
Tapathon 2011. Handing over the shoes. Vera and Derek Hamer, Fiona Castle, Ashley Nelson, Janet Austin, Elliot Austin, Felicity Austin and Olivia Austin

IT was a poignant moment for Derek and Vera Hamer when they took a bow at the end of this year’s Roy Castle Tapathon.

For the Brighouse couple were standing down after 15 years of organising the annual dance spectacular which has raised more than £176,000 for the fight against lung cancer since 1997.

Dancers from 18 West Yorkshire dance schools took part in the six-hour relay event at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax, to raise funds for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. The Scholes-born entertainer’s widow, Fiona Castle, was in the audience to cheer on the dancers.

She said: “Roy would be thrilled that his friends are still supporting the charity after all this time.”

Among the performers at this year’s event were dancers from the Elwyn School of Dance in Brighouse and the Janet Austin Tappers, who meet at Waring Green Community Centre. Dance teachers Ashley Nelson and Janet Austin will take over the organisation of the Tapathon next year.

Ashely said: “Derek and Vera Hamer have devoted 15 years of fantastic fund-raising to the Roy Castle Foundation and they will be a hard act to follow. Janet and I will be starting work soon on next year’s event and the first thing we will need to do is look for sponsors.”

Roy Castle, who was a talented musician, dancer and entertainer, was a childhood friend of Derek and Vera Hamer and the three went on to perform together in variety shows and concerts.

When the entertainer died of lung cancer in 1994, despite being a non-smoker, Derek and Vera decided to start fund-raising to support research into causes of the disease. Since 1997 hundreds of dancers of all ages and from all over West Yorkshire have turned out to support the annual Tapathon.

Other dance schools taking part this year included Barbara Peters School of Dance, Pam Strickland Tappers, Karen Binns Stage School, Whiteley’s Academy of Performing Arts and Hoofers Dance and Fitness Studio.

Derek said: “We probably had more dancers than ever and certainly more spectators. The dancing was again of a very high standard.

“We’re totally indebted to the dance school principals for organising their dancers to come every year. Without them there wouldn’t be a Tapathon. Though research into lung cancer has made great advances, more work is needed and the fund-raising will go on.”

Though Derek plans to hang up his dance shoes, Vera is hoping to keep dancing every week with the Janet Austin Tappers.

“Tapping is wonderful for keeping the brain ticking over,” she said.