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Raie Copp

Raie Copp or "Auntie Raie" as she is affectionately known to her hundreds of delighted dance students over the years, was born Audrey Copp in Tottenham, London. she started dancing at the age of 12 years old, and made her professional stage debut just two years later. she comes from a showbiz family, her grandfather was a member of "The Kentucky Minstrels" and her mother was a comedienne before settling down with her optician father, who himself helped to run a large dance school. Raie taught her self to dance, mainly by watching the pupils at her fathers dance school. Changing her name to Raie certainly attracted attention and she worked continuously all over the theatres of Great Britain  as a dancer. Her first earnings being just 75p. Her career as a dancer saw her working with the likes of Norman Evans ("Over The Garden Wall"), Old Mother Riley and Kitty and Maurice Winnick's Band Show. It was whilst touring with the latter in 1945 that Raie paid her first visit to Swansea, appearing at The Empire Theatre. Little did she know that in a few short years she would spend the rest of her life there. Raie appeared as a dancer on the famous 1940s BBC radio show 'Happidrome" with Harry Korris, Cecil Fredericks and Robbie Vincent and even appeared in the big screen version. In 1943 Raie also  appeared in the film "Somewhere On Leave" with Frank Randle She then joined the Pantomime "Jack and the Beanstalk" with Alec Pleon, Ray Barry and Charles Harrison. they performed the same pantomime with the same cast for several years, finishing up at Swansea Empire in 1949/50. Raie met her future husband, Len. in the cafe next to the stage door. At the end of the Pantomime Raie was persuaded to open a dance school in Swansea by her friend. It was an instant success and Raie Copp's School of Dance began. In the many years since, Raie has ignited so many little girl's (and boy's) dreams. The standards that her "children" have achieved is nothing short of remarkable, her past pupils have appeared in literally hundreds of shows. She is proud to have worked with local talents like Catherine Zeta Jones, Ria Jones and Julie Paton. Raie Copp is a very humble lady and probably doesn't realise how important and well respected she is by her peers. Testimony to this was when, in 2007,  she had the great honour of being nominated for the stage/theatre lifetime achievement award in the prestigious Carl Alan awards. Raie was short listed to the final three. Raie tells of the many times when the glamour shown on the stage was coupled with very difficult times off it, like travelling by train to theatres around the country during wartime, taking days on end to get to places, with no where to sleep, no toilets and very little to eat. and often times having to sleep at the theatre as all the boarding houses were full. She would not have wanted it any different however as the good times always outweighed the bad. Her school she has passed down to two of her senior students and continues to thrive. Raie is still involved with the annual pantomime put on At Penyrheol, but looks back on very happy memories of Swansea theatre.

The site of the cafe next to the stage door of The Swansea Empire. (where Raie met her husband Len) Although the Empire is now demolished this alley still exists and in its time whole circus's were led through it.

Raie (in the middle) during a break in Blackpool in 1940

Raie on stage in Skegness(far right)

Raie on the stage of Swansea Empire in the Pantomime “Jack And The Beanstalk”

Raie on stage in Happidrome