Tribute to beloved Southend dance group leader Christine Watts


TOUCHING tributes were paid to a beloved grandmother who led a dance group for 30 years.

Christine Watts, from Southchurch, died this month at the age of 77 after battling a range of illnesses in recent years.

Ms Watts led the cheerleader, The Southend Sapphires, for over 30 years and was known as “Nanny Chris” to countless children.

Mrs Watts with the Southend Sapphires Majorettes

Ms Watts celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary to husband Vernon Watts in October, where they received a message from the Postman Queen Pat.

Ms. Watts is survived by Mr. Watts and his five children, 13 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and a great great granddaughter.

Paying tribute to her mother, Lou Lawrence, Mrs Watts’ youngest daughter, said she “adores each” of her children and grandchildren.

She said: “My mother was truly loved by so many people, and although she was very hurt for a long time, she never complained and always had a smile on her face.

“Hundreds of kids called her ‘Nanny Chris’ over the years, she always had a smile and a hug for each of them.


Mrs Watts on a trip to London

“Nothing was ever too difficult for my mother, she loved helping others.

“She was always trying to raise funds for Fair Havens Hospice, in memory of her father.

“Mom was always so caring, she had many jobs, especially as a home help for the elderly.

“When she gave up, she worked for me, babysit my 3 children and in my hairdressing salon ‘Xlousive hair design’, for 15 years as a junior ‘senior’; that’s what she was called.

“Every client adored her and asked after her long after she had stopped helping me because of her health.”

Ms Watts shut down the popular Southend Sapphires Troupe in 2006.

She died on December 16, but lived a happy life with her husband, who bought her a diamond ring for their birthday on October 8.


Mrs Watts with her husband Vernon

She died peacefully at Southend Hospital.

Ms Lawrence added, “Mom was such a fun and loving person, even going to a club with her daughters for a dance until she was in her sixties,

“She was always on the dance floor at a family party, she loved spending time with her family.

“Mom really loved going to shows in London with her daughters and granddaughters, we used to go with Echo Readers’ Travel.

“Anyone who knows my mom knows that her flagship song is ‘Simply the Best’ by Tina Turner.

“If this song was played, family and friends would always form a circle around her and sing the lyrics to her. She was just that – simply the best.


The couple receive their letter from the Queen on their birthday

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