A DANCE school has celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Southend Dance Centre, based in Leigh and Hockley, began its life in October 1994.

Founder and owner Sally Vernon started up with just herself and one other dancing couple. Now, it has more than 250 members.

Basildon Standard:

Looking back - the school opened in 1994

The 44-year-old has been running the school with her husband Brett, 47, and the couple won many accolades as professional competitors before focusing on using their skills to teach Ballroom and Latin American dancing to students.

The pupils range from four to 80-years-old.

During the birthday celebrations last month, the pair were presented with the prestigious ‘Roll of Honour’ by the CEO of the national dance body United Kingdom Alliance, in recognition of their 25 years of service and dedication to teaching dance.

The couple also received congratulatory video messages from former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman and Britain’s Got Talent winners - and south Essex’s own - Diversity.

Former World Latin American Champions Matthew and Nicole Cutler and former professionals on Strictly Come Dancing also came to celebrate with Brett and Sally at St James Church Hall.

Brett and Sally said: “25 years as an established dance school is a massive achievement and a milestone that we could never have dreamt of reaching. We thank all our students, past and present, as well as their incredibly supportive parents and families.

“We look forward to passing on our dancing knowledge to many more willing students in the future.”

Earlier this year, the dance school went to Blackpool to take part in a national competition where their hard-working students won 14 first places.

At the beginning of October, they again took on dance schools from across the country in another national competition in Birmingham, winning 18 first places.

The school run two kids’ classes each week, an adult class as well as providing 1-2-1 lessons.