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A royal dance

ROYAL APPOINTMENT: Jessica Elliott (left) and Claudette John, of J’s Dance Factory, in conversation with their special guest

ROYALTY DESCENDED on south east London recently. His Royal Highness Prince Andrew visited the offices of award winning entrepreneur Jessica Elliott at her Forest Hill based business J’s Dance Factory.

The business offers dance classes to over 200 children aged 3-17 at schools in Forest Hill, Croydon and Newham.

Elliot, 24, won the office space rent free for a year  as part of  a prize package after winning the London Metropolitan University business plan competition in 2009.

Prince Andrew was impressed by the fast growth of the company and the pair discussed the importance of support for young entrepreneurs in the UK.

The purpose of the visit was to talk to business owners and discover the role student enterprise societies in universities and schools can play in helping to develop successful businesses.

Elliot, who set up her first dance school four years ago in a church hall in Forest Hill with 12 children, was eager to find out if the Prince shared her passion for dance.  

When asked if he like dance, the Duke of York said: “Dance lessons were arranged for me as a child but I often hid behind the sofa!” 

AMBITIOUS: Jessica Elliott has been invited to join the prestigious Courvoisier Future 500 Club

The Prince’s visit came in the same week that the young entrepreneur was invited to join the prestigious Courvoisier Future 500 Club, which is an exclusive network of the most up and coming 500 business people and creative artists in the UK.

Elliot has launched another company, Teachdance, as a means of helping dancers who want to become qualified dance instructors with the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA) and become self employed instructors.

This runs in conjunction with dance instructors agency Dancing After School where she assists instructors in gaining employment in schools and other youth organizations across London and the South East.

She said: “It is great to have built J’s Dance Factory to a stage where I am able to assist others in achieving their dreams of setting up their own dance business or becoming self employed. It is a such a pleasure to have turned my passion for dance and young people into my job and now I want to help other local dancers do the same.”

Elliot said of the Prince: “It was great having the Prince come to visit, very excited to see his arrival in a police escorted Royal car. He seemed down to earth and genuinely interested in the service we provide to local children and their parents.”

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