Palgrave’s late ‘King of the Steppers’ honoured with creation of new award

Doreen O'Connor presents the Percy West O'Connor award to Lenny Whiting from Stradbroke, at the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust annual Step Dance Day. EATMT, courtesy of John Halliday. ANL-160727-133840001

Doreen O'Connor presents the Percy West O'Connor award to Lenny Whiting from Stradbroke, at the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust annual Step Dance Day. EATMT, courtesy of John Halliday. ANL-160727-133840001

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One of the region’s best-known step dancers who died last year has been honoured with the creation of an award, which was presented for the first time at the weekend.

Percy West O’Connor, of Palgrave, died in July 2015 at the age of 70. He was known by many as ‘King of the Steppers’ and began dancing at a young age, entering and winning numerous events, with he and his wife, Doreen, also taking part in stage plays across East Anglia.

Percy West O'Connor

Percy West O'Connor

And his legacy will be forever remembered, as an award in his honour was presented at the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust annual Step Dance Day, which was hosted in Occold for the very first time on Sunday.

Mrs West O’Connor told the Diss Express: “I was honoured that they created this award. Me and my son were honoured to think that the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust had done something like this.

“Obviously it is for his memory to live on, and for the step dancing to continue.

“Step dancing is a traditional thing that Percy loved. He was well respected, and people just loved him. He was a character.”

I was honoured that they created this award. Me and my son were honoured to think that the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust had done something like this

Doreen West O’Connor

Stradbroke’s Lenny Whiting was awarded the accolade by Mrs West O’Connor. “This really means a lot to me, as I thought a lot of Percy,” said Mr Whiting.

There was further joy for Mrs West O’Connor on the day, as she scooped first prize in the Steve Monk Competition — an award her late husband had won on many occasions before.

A spokesperson for the trust described Mr West O’Connor as “one of the region’s best traditional step dancers” and added that his death had left a “huge gap” in the step dancing fraternity.

The East Anglian Traditional Music Trust’s next event, their traditional music day, will take place at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket on Saturday, September 3.

James Abbott, of Cretingham, in action. EATMT, courtesy of John Halliday. ANL-160727-133906001

James Abbott, of Cretingham, in action. EATMT, courtesy of John Halliday. ANL-160727-133906001

For more information, visit www.eatmt.org.uk

FULL RESULTS:

Steve Monk Competition: 1st, Doreen O’Connor, Palgrave; 2nd, Mo Allum, Essex; 3rd, Famie Fowler, Esex.

Best newcomer: Irene Apps, Bury St Edmunds.

Irene Apps, from Bury St Edmunds, won the best newcomer award, pictured here dancing to the music of Steven Matthews on accordion. EATMT, courtesy of John Halliday. ANL-160727-133852001

Irene Apps, from Bury St Edmunds, won the best newcomer award, pictured here dancing to the music of Steven Matthews on accordion. EATMT, courtesy of John Halliday. ANL-160727-133852001

Font Whatling Competition: 1st, Simon Ritchie, Thaxted; 2nd, Robert Hunt, Thorndon; 3rd, Doreen O’Connor.

Percy West O’Connor Award: 1st, Lenny Whatling, Stradbroke; 2nd, Robert Hunt, Kent; 3rd, David Brooks, Halesworth.