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Last dance as club based at Sheerness East Working Men's Club in Queenborough Road, Halfway, calls it a day after 40 years

By Lewis Dyson

A dance club is set to hold its last meeting after more than 40 years.

The group meets every Sunday evening at Sheerness East Working Men’s Club in Queenborough Road, Halfway.

One of its members was Patrick Donegan, who collapsed and died at the age of 86 while walking along the promenade near the Isle of Sheppey Sailing club on Thursday, May 15.

Pensioner Patrick Donegan died after collapsing on Sheerness seafront
Pensioner Patrick Donegan died after collapsing on Sheerness seafront

The decision to close the dance club has been made due to dwindling numbers as members have grown older or passed away.

The remaining 16 members are planning to organise one last hurrah today between themselves.

Doris O’Halloran, of Hilda Road, Halfway, started as a dancer and has gradually taken on a organisational role at the club.

The 79-year-old said: “Years ago, when I started going, which was 20-something years ago, if you didn’t go there by half past seven then you just didn’t get a seat.

“People used to come up from Whitstable and Newington and Sittingbourne.

“We’ve got a lady there and she’s 95 and she still comes, and I think the youngest must be about 70.

“Unfortunately, a lot of [the members] are no longer with us. It’s going to be a bit sad on Sunday but we are going to have a bit of a do and that’s it.”

Another Islander who knew the club well is Derek Hawkes, of Queenborough Road, who played drums in a band called The Three Ds along with keyboard player Dickie Davies and saxophonist Alfie Evans.

They nearly made the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest residency after playing there every week for 38 years but they were unable to provide receipts for the entire period.

Mr Hawkes, 76, who still plays with Derek and his Jazz Friends, said: “It was one of the most popular clubs in Kent for dancing. It’s a shame to hear it’s coming to an end.”

A post mortem revealed this week that Mr Donegan died of natural causes.

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