Watlington is a very close community
“My parents moved to Watlington in 1996, and I was born in the John Radcliffe Hospital in 2000. I went to Rainbow Nursery from the age of 7 months until I was three years old. I remember Petra and Kelly who used to look after me. One memory is that we were on the Telly Tubbies – the film crew came and I had to squeak a turtle. I remember painting, and my friends there.
When I was three I went to Watlington Primary School. I was the youngest, so I laid the Poppy wreath at the Remembrance Parade, representing the school. I was so young I was allowed to go to school wearing whatever I wanted, so I used to wear fairy dresses all the time. It was a bit of a shock the next year when I had to wear uniform.
The Head teacher was Mrs. Briggs, and then in year 5 I was on the school council and interviewed Mr. Markham who was her replacement. He made such an effort to get to know all of us. The school was always really welcoming, and we used to do school plays, involving the whole school. I remember being a snowflake when I was in Year 1. I was in the choir with Mr. Harris – he still does that now, and we were the first to do the Big Sing. We were also one of the first years to do a year 6 play, a tradition that is still going.
We moved to Chiltern Gardens when I was ten and we used to play out front all the time. We’d be in and out of each other’s houses, and the doors would stay open in the summer. It didn’t matter how old you were, whether you were eight or twelve, we all played together. I have always felt Watlington to be a very safe place. We used to ride our bicycles up the hill and along the Ridgeway – it’s hard, but we did it!
I went to Icknield School the year Mr. Hunter started. Icknield felt very big and very different. Year 7 is always scary, but Mr. Hunter was great. He used to come round all our tutor groups – he wanted to know us all, so he knew that I liked to sing and act. I did Stage Coach from the age of five until I was fourteen, and started singing lessons at Icknield when I was twelve. I am doing my Grade 8 in June. I really enjoyed the music and drama department at Icknield, with Mrs. Tansley, Mr. Dobson and Mr. Rowe. I was in every school play and really enjoyed them – they were a great way to bond with people.
I started at Performanze Dance School when I was thirteen, and it has been a very big part of my life. I remember my first class – I had no flexibility, no control and no idea what I was doing. Because I started so late and because I loved it so much, I really worked hard to catch up. I have so much passion for it. We have performed at Aylesbury Waterside, Oxford New Theatre, Wembley, the O2, the Royal Albert Hall, and Sadler’s Wells. Miss. Rosie has always pushed me and seen a potential, and she has given me the opportunity to teach, which feels pretty good. Because the older students are involved with teaching the younger ones it feels like one big dance family.
I did AS levels in dance and music at Lord Williams School in Thame and I am now studying a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Dance at the City of Oxford College. It’s very intense – I am dancing six days a week and I have work around that. I have worked in the Co-op, The Granary and now I am working at the Care Home as a Care Assistant. It’s very rewarding but it is mentally and physically demanding. I have so much respect for the team there – they all work incredibly hard. It takes a special kind of person to be a carer. For me, it makes me feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives. I also baby sit, do dog walking and work as a make up assistant helping Nadia Lynn.
In the future I’d like to go to a dance university and I’d like to qualify as make- up artist, and as a singing teacher. I’ve always enjoyed singing and it would be nice to inspire others.”
Watlington Folk is a documentary project by photographer Nicola Schafer. Watlington is blessed with pretty buildings and beautiful countryside, however it is the people who live here that truly make the place. This project aims to capture that through a series of portraits of the people who live here together with their “Watlington Story”. For more information, please contact Nicola through her website http://www.nicolaschafer.co.uk