Ex-soubrette keeps retirees fighting fit at Churchill’s Chelmer Lodge

A retired theatre performer from Chelmsford is promoting the benefits of staying fit in later life by hosting exercise classes for her neighbours at Churchill Retirement Living’s Chelmer Lodge in Chelmsford.

72-year old Sue Snedker moved into the Lodge on New London Road earlier this year with her husband Jim, and has set up a weekly fitness class for Owners in the communal lounge area.

Sue said: “I think it’s very important for us to stay fit and active as we get older. I owned my own dance school before retiring so I have put together some routines that are suitable for all ages. My mother lived in a similar retirement development and I used to teach classes for her and her friends. My classes aren’t too strenuous, we start off sitting in our chairs to warm up and gradually build up momentum. I like to keep it fun for everyone so sometimes we will add in a bit of line dancing too.”

For Sue, who moved to Chelmsford to be closer to her daughter who lives in Pilgrim’s Hatch, dancing is in her blood after enjoying a successful career as a theatre soubrette in the 1960s.

She joined a theatre company aged just 16 and spent ten years touring around the country performing at different seaside venues for the summer season. In 1961 her first role was as a dancer in a Bournemouth show with comedian Ken Dodd, she then joined the famous Fol de Rols theatre company as a soubrette.

“It was a brave decision at such a young age to join the theatre and go out on tour, but I loved it. Dancing is my first love so performing at such iconic venues like The Grand in Blackpool, The Pavilion in Bournemouth and the Brighton Theatre Royal was a dream come true. We would often perform a couple of different programmes throughout the summer season so that people could come and see us several times during their holiday. The glitz and glamour of seaside theatre shows is something that has sadly been lost these days though. A lot of the theatres I used to perform in don’t even exist anymore, or only host a few shows a year. I’ve got such fond memories of my time performing and getting to work with some fabulous performers. I have a great collection of memorabilia to relive it all, which I find myself looking through from time to time.”

Sue retired from the theatre in 1969 to begin teaching dance and started her own dance school in the 1970s, which she ran for 30 years. And now, she has brought her love of dancing to Chelmsford.

“Teaching fitness classes at the Lodge has been a wonderful way to get to know our neighbours, and it’s a fantastic way for our fellow Owners to socialise in the Owners’ Lounge. We wanted to move to a place where we knew we could stay put and we have definitely found the perfect place here at Chelmer Lodge. We feel safe and secure but it also allows us to continue living independently. We do a lot of walking so having the town just five minutes away and access to lovely local parks is wonderful. Our one-bedroom apartment is very spacious and we often have friends coming to visit us who are just as impressed.”

The low maintenance apartments at Chelmer Lodge have been designed to make life easier and more enjoyable in retirement years. All the apartments have spacious rooms throughout and are an ideal combination of design and functionality. The fully fitted, stylish kitchens include a built in fridge and freezer, washer/dryer, hob and an oven, which is located at an easy-reach height. All of the properties also benefit from illuminated light switches for added convenience.

Owners can also enjoy ultimate peace of mind from a fitted camera entry system for the highest level of security, a 24 hour emergency call system and a Lodge Manager. Communal facilities include an Owners’ Lounge, which Owners use for socialising and events, communal landscaped gardens and Guest Suite. 

To find out more about the apartments available at Chelmer Lodge, visit the show complex open daily from 10am to 5pm or call 01245 676 278.