An appreciation by Christine Ackers
A simple girl with the hands of an angel, Andrea surprised us. She was one of the earliest of we second generation teachers to grow a large practice. Her easy nature drew pupils from all social and professional classes. Her plain, down-to-earth character meant that what you encountered was delivered, was what you got. She was a warming encounter in a world of diplomacy and spin. You knew where you were with her. You felt safe.
Getting to know her, you would hear stories of cowering beneath the bedclothes as her violent father returned from an evening in the pub. Further to that fear-infused childhood, she had her hand slashed during a scuffle with a burglar she’d surprised on her doorstep in sedate Holland Park. And then her best friend on the training course died. She had a lot to deal with in her young life, which may have lent itself to her interest in some questionable notions from amongst the so-called New Age philosophies and medical theories of the time. But you never got anything but solid common sense from her when it came to the work. We are thankful she spent some years involved in the taxing business of training teachers, as she made a great contribution to teaching standards world-wide.
I had my disagreements with her about the best way to forward the work as a group. I got miffy about her reluctance to join my crusade to save the work from declining standards. But she never allowed this to detract from our mutual regard when it came to the appreciation of our work. In a recent phone call from Paris, talking about the old days we shared at Lansdowne Road in London in the 1970s she declared with feeling, We were so lucky! Indeed, we were. And we’ve been equally lucky to have enjoyed Andrea’s large contribution – for not long enough, of course, but for a good forty years.
Andrea particularly enjoyed demonstrating her good use in square dancing, while any evening of whoopee would find her the jolliest of participants. She was an adorable creature to be around. We shared many a laugh – surely the most precious of human moments.
Having Andrea here in Sydney up the road from me running a training course gave me a colleague I could confidently direct postulates to while my own intake was limited. Her decision to return to France a few years ago was a blow for us here; but then she became a regular visiting teacher to Simon Fitzgibbon’s school in Madrid. Simon eagerly recruited from the sparse number of experienced teachers in the region for his project; so it was good to hear that trainees were still getting the benefit of Andrea’s outstanding skill somewhere in the world – even if to my chagrin it was not here in our little garden in Sydney where we still felt we missed out.
We missed out, but others gained. By moving back to Europe she was able to disseminate the best Alexander Technique coupled with the benefit of her down-to-earth freshness more widely. We can look more kindly on our loss here knowing that she has given the wider world due respect for our valuable work. We thank Andrea for her special contribution to this, and for her sweet presence in our lives.
About the author
Christine graduated from the Constructive Teaching Centre in London in 1968 where she continued working until answering a call for an experienced teacher to help train students in Sydney in 1983. Since then she has continued in private practice and takes on a small number of apprentices from within her private practice. She also assists training teachers at Sydney City Alexander Technique.