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From Oven Fitter to Dance Bug-Jitter!

Terrence Malcolm is one of Northampton’s most celebrated dancers but many aren’t aware of his humble origins…

Like many of his predecessors in the realm of dance, Terry discovered his calling late in life.

“Dancing wasn’t really the done thing for lads in Northampton when I was growing up.

I was born in 1956 into a large family with four older brothers. Our parents worked hard so that they could feed and clothe us; we knew that, so we all worked hard at school in return. Both my parents worked in the Crockett and Jones factory, in fact that’s where they met. They had both lost family in the Wars and, as such, were endlessly grateful of their job security and safety. Before we tucked into dinner, our grace would always mention the men and women who had sacrificed themselves so that we could be safe.

My Dad was a traditional kind of bloke, but he also had an entrepreneurial streak. Although he was committed to his life in the factory, in his spare time he would often dream up ideas for new businesses and inventions that could change the world. He wasn’t interested in ever leaving his job, but this never stopped him for planning how he’d start up a cleaning business (much like the USA’s BBQ Cleaner). He saw opportunities where others saw nothing but lowly, hard-paid work and I’ve always wondered how that BBQ cleaning business of his would have fared if he had been in the position to start it up.

The debt that he felt he owed his older brothers and his own Father was huge; with no direction or guidance he set about repaying it by raising a family with the kind of morals and work ethic that he hoped his parents would have been proud of. He wanted all of his sons to not just ‘do well’ in life but to have the kind of success that he was never granted, as a result of his stilted wartime education. All of us were loyally studious from a young age and remained so into adult life. Although he was strict, our Father was a happy man who understood the importance of leisure time – our study breaks would consist of kicking a ball around in the street, sometimes he would even join us for a bit!

Needless to say, there wasn’t much time for dancing. At the age of 18 I had picked up all the skills that I had needed to start my career as an appliance engineer, a job that I have continued to this day. As much as I’m grateful to my Father for teaching me the importance of a decent work ethic, our upbringing did not leave a lot of room for learning anything else about life. At the age of 21 I was completely self-sufficient, could replace a Belling oven element in a heartbeat and was close to securing a deposit on my first home – but I had no clue how to talk to the opposite sex.

My Mother was left a widow at the age of 62. We expected her to retreat into herself and to devote her time to the Church, but she surprised all of us. Within a year of our Father passing, my Mother started dancing at the Northampton Swing Dance. At first she was a little nervous, she would ask each of us in turn to chaperone her and before we knew it, we were all dancing.

I’d spent to so many years attempting emulate the hard working man that my Mother had been that I had forgotten to have fun and I’m forever grateful to my Mother for showing me how to.”

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