Tribute paid to one of Lancaster district's best-known dance teachers

One of the Lancaster district's best-known dance teachers, Joan Ward, has died, aged 87.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 4:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 4:14 pm
Joan Crayston (nee Ward).

During her distinguished 60-year career in dance, she was principal of the Joan Ward School of Dance in Lancaster

She contributed greatly to both the British Ballet Organisation and the Royal Ballet School.

Joan was born in Lancaster in 1933, attending the Cathedral Primary School and then Winckley Square Convent School in Preston.

She turned her love for dance as a child into a career, which started as a touring stage dancer, before creating her own dance school.

She enrolled several pupils into the Royal Ballet School and, in later years, cherished her honorary role as North-West representative for the Royal Ballet School.

Joan met her future husband Bill Crayston at the Central Pier ballroom in Morecambe and they were married at Lancaster Cathedral in 1958.

Bill was editor of the Lancaster Guardian and died in 2008. They lived in Hest Bank.

Joan supported the community and the church all her life.

She was a member of Bolton-le-Sands Women's Institute and read for Galloway's Society for the Blind in Morecambe.

She raised thousands of pounds for St John's Hospice by putting on dance productions at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster.

Tributes to her life were paid at the funeral at Lancaster Cathedral on Friday May 28.

Her son Jonathan said: “Joan was a very forward-thinking person, full of energy and positivity. She had a joy for life.”

After her retirement, her school became the Laura Sandham School of Dance with her niece Laura as principal. Laura had been a pupil of Joan from aged three.

Laura said how lucky she and other pupils had been to have Miss Ward as their wonderful teacher and mentor.

“Miss Ward was a spectacularly creative teacher. Her pieces were amazing, moving and inspiring,” said Laura.

“She produced exceptionally talented dancers who went on to do amazing things.”

Joan died peacefully in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on May 12.

Donations in Joan's memory are going to the Lancaster charity Escape2Make.