People: Marching to her own beat

Away from the cut and thrust of financial services, Sarah Roberts-Lello ACSI has a passion for a very different pastime, writes Lora Benson

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At the tender age of four, Sarah Roberts-Lello took her first choreographed steps as a majorette. Twenty-five years on, her affection for the pastime, which has brought her a clutch of awards, is still strong. Sarah has been a lifelong member of the Larkettes, a majorettes troupe based in Liverpool, her home city.

“I started as a majorette as my parents wanted me to find a hobby,” says Sarah, who for the past eight years has worked at the Liverpool office of wealth manager Rathbones in its Client Static Data team. “I realised fairly quickly that I was quite good at it and enjoyed performing.”

Baton twirling choreographed with marching to music in group formation are the essential components of majorette activity. “Good hand-eye co-ordination is essential, as those batons can leave a bruise, but after a bit of practice it’s not too bad. Now it comes as second nature to me,” she says.

The troupe is midway through competition season, which runs from April until August. Having progressed through the age groups, Sarah now represents the Larkettes’ senior section, for dancers aged 15 and over. The Larkettes will over a five-month period take part in more than 20 inter-divisional contests against up to 12 first division troupes from the North West and North Wales region.

The troupe, which can include up to 40 dancers, will then compete in an end of season championships in Prestatyn, Wales, which attracts around 25 troupes from three different divisions.

“Over the years, we have won dozens of competitions, including being overall champions over the season many times. I love the adrenaline rush from performing in front of people to win a trophy.”

Her competition experience has included attending events in the Isle of Man and the European Championships held at the Disneyland Paris complex. Sarah practises for around four hours a week with the troupe, honing the Larkettes’ complicated 15-minute routine, which changes every season.

“You are awarded points for content at competition, and at our level there are certain movements you are expected to include in your routine, such as being able to roll the baton around your neck and spinning the baton at least twice before catching it.”

Sarah has great admiration for Gill Quirk, the troupe principal, who is the driving force behind the Larkettes’ success. She says: “Gill has a brilliant imagination and I don’t know how she comes up with the routines she does. She is at the top of her game when it comes to finding great music for us to use. This year’s routine includes tracks from Jason Donovan, The Spinners and Dionne Warwick.”

Gill, who Sarah has known since she became a Larkette, is one of many close personal friends she has made through the group.

“It is a close-knit troupe. I have known a lot of the girls since I was very young and I used to train many of those who are aged 16 or 17 when they were starting out.”

Looking to the future, Sarah has no plans to hang up her baton but would like to share her expertise as a majorette.

She says: “The teaching side is something I would like to develop and I also would be interested in judging competitions.”

Outside of her commitment to the Larkettes, Sarah has used any spare time she has left wisely, studying for the CISI Advanced Certificate in Global Operations.

This article was originally published in the June 2015 print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'.
Published: 17 Jun 2015
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