Dance principal Pat Bennett was rushed into hospital last May, only a couple of weeks before her school's 60th anniversary show.

This week the curtain finally rises on the Estelle School of Dance's diamond celebrations, postponed from last year, in Swindon's Wyvern Theatre.

On May 23, 2018 Pat collapsed and was taken to the GWH with a twisted bowel. She was in intensive care for four days.

"When I came round I was hallucinating, I thought they were experimenting on my body. It was very traumatic,'' said Pat.

The dancers were presenting The Slipper and the Rose, The Cinderella Musical, based on the film starring Richard Chamberlain, and many former pupils were returning to appear in the show. Gradually Pat began to recover and now a huge cast including more than 100 two-year-olds taking the part of butterflies, will be marking the school's milestone.

It was always Pat’s dream to dance. Having badgered her parents, she was allowed to take dancing lessons and then trained at the Rambert Studios in London. She danced as a semi professional and then began her own school in 1958 and, 60 years later, she is coaching another generation of young dancers, teaching ballet, tap and modern dance.

For Pat this show is very much a family affair as her granddaughter, Alexandra Bamford, is Cinderella and her daughter, Jen Bamford is the musical director. "She is taking over from her father who was the conductor,'' said Pat.

Now the show is finally happening, Pat says she is half nervous, half excited. "I enjoy the rehearsals and working out the choreography but I still get stage fright,'' she said.

Like Alfred Hitchcock, Pat always makes a cameo appearance in each of her shows, but this time she is out from the shadows as the wicked step mother.

It was not only Pat who has been struck by bad luck as her Lord Chamberlain in the show, Stuart Benjamin, who played the same part in a previous Estelle school version of The Slipper And The Rose, has had an eye operation.

"Mike Page who was to play Montague has had to step up and take over the role,'' said Pat.

Members of The Immanuel Drama Group will also be joining the dancers on stage and Steve Brain reprises his role as the king and Laura Curtis hers as Fairy Godmother.

Taking up the reins again presented some unusual challenges for Pat and her dressmaking team as many of the youngsters had outgrown their costumes.

The Slipper and The Rose features numbers such as Suddenly It Happens, Tell Him Anything But Not That, and He Danced With Me. Pat said: "The music and lyrics are by the brothers Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman who also wrote the music for Mary Poppins.''

The musical in aid of the Brighter Futures charity, runs from Friday, March 1 to Saturday, March 2 at 7.30pm and a matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets are £15 from 01793 524481 or visit - Flicky Harrison