TRIBUTES have been paid to a beloved Andover dance teacher and school principal, who sadly passed away on Sunday (August 15).

Grace Hicks was honorary principal of the Suzanne School of Dancing, where she worked for more than 50 years.

Her colleagues said: “We are truly devastated. She will be so greatly missed by her family, friends and all that knew her.”

The Lights theatre added; “Grace was a huge supporter of The Lights from its inception and was thrilled to move the school to the venue in 2016.

“Grace was a beautiful, kind and utterly fabulous lady and her legacy lives on with Carol, Alana, Louise and Sam who continue to work so hard to ensure the school lives up to Grace’s high standards. Although in recent years Grace hadn’t been able to spend much time in Andover, her heart and soul remained at the very heart of the school. We will miss you Grace.”

The Suzanne School of Dancing is the longest running dance school in Andover, and was founded just after the Second World War by Suzanne Edney.

One of its earliest pupils was Grace, who had her first dance lesson with the school in 1947. The school says that Grace "quickly fell in love with dancing", and began work to become a dance teacher "in no time at all".

She already had teaching in her blood, with her father having being the headteacher at East Street School, and she worked her way up the ranks until she became principal of the Suzanne School of Dancing in 1966.

Grace celebrated her 50th anniversary as principal in 2016, and has taught countless pupils over the years including all four current teachers.

"Our love for teaching stems from the love, support, dedication and guidance Grace has provided to all her pupils over the years," they said. "We work closely together, creating a warm, friendly, family atmosphere for all our students; ensuring the strong, nurturing, founding values of Suzanne Edney remain in place."

The Suzanne School of Dancing teaches those of any ability from the age of three in a range of dance styles, and more information can be found here: