Head to Welwyn Garden City to impress strangers with your piano skills

PUBLISHED: 15:30 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:38 14 November 2019

The ribbon on the Carole Allen Memorial Piano was cut by Jean Wise of the Carol Allen School of Dancing and Carol's daughter Andree Stow. Picture: WGC Centenary Foundation.

The ribbon on the Carole Allen Memorial Piano was cut by Jean Wise of the Carol Allen School of Dancing and Carol's daughter Andree Stow. Picture: WGC Centenary Foundation.

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A community piano was unveiled in Welwyn Garden City on Friday evening - which could be the first public piano in Hertfordshire.

Much-loved dance teacher Carol Allen passed away on June 8. Picture: Alan High Photography.Much-loved dance teacher Carol Allen passed away on June 8. Picture: Alan High Photography.

Pianos in public places have become a trend in recent years, thanks to the 'Play Me, I'm Yours' project by installation artist Luke Jerram.

The project has helped install over 2,000 street pianos in more than 60 cities across the world, including London and Cambridge, but there has been no word of any in Hertfordshire until now.

Taking inspiration from this idea, Jenny McCann from the Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation placed a piano in Campus West for the 100-year Welwyn Garden City anniversary.

While she was looking for a location, Mark Woolman, general manager at Campus West, mentioned that there was a piano at the Panshanger Community Centre owned by a dancing school which was no longer being used.

The Carol Allen School of Dance was founded in 1962. Picture: Alan High Photography.The Carol Allen School of Dance was founded in 1962. Picture: Alan High Photography.

Agreement was then reached between the Carol Allen Dancing School, family members and Campus West and, as a result, the restored piano is now installed in Campus West available for all to enjoy now and throughout the centenary year.

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Carol Allen, who sadly passed away on June 8 at the age of 84, founded the school in 1962, with classes first in Hatfield and then St Albans.

The former ballet dancer moved to Welwyn Garden City in 1967, where she was asked to start a school in Panshanger - one of four Welwyn Garden City bases where classes are held today.

In the 57 years that the school has been running, Carol inspired confidence in children of all ages, many of whom have grown up and started bringing their own children to the school.

Every three years, the dance school has staged shows at the Hawthorne Theatre in Campus West. Carol felt it was a "wonderful" opportunity for the children to experience dancing on a stage and feel the excitement of the backstage atmosphere.

Over the years, the school has given to many local charities and causes which benefit children, including Lakeside School, The Pepper Foundation, QEII Intensive Care Baby Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital, DiPPs and many more.

The Welwyn Garden City centenary celebrations will kick off on January 17/18 with a festival of light.

To find out more go to wgc100.org.

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