Popular Banbury dancer, actor and musician remembered at community fundraiser

A fundraiser has been launched to help Conor Dowers' family.  Photo: Conor performs Summer Holiday with Odyssey Youth (photo submitted by family)

A fundraiser has been launched to help Conor Dowers’ family. Photo: Conor performs Summer Holiday with Odyssey Youth (photo submitted by family)

A fundraising event was launched in memory of a highly regarded local musician, dancer and actor known locally as Billy Elliott of Banbury.

Conor Dowers, a well-known musician, actor and dancer, tragically passed away at the age of 22 on December 21, 2020. He was a final year student at the prestigious Urdang Academy in London.

Close family friends Tiana Riley, Sylvia Riley and Dawn Bennett organized a charity football tournament to help the family pay for a tombstone for Conor. The football tournament will take place this Sunday June 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Wykham Park Academy, Ruskin Road, Banbury.

A charity football tournament will be held in memory of Conor Dowers on Saturday June 26

The friendly six-a-side football tournament proved to be very popular.

Tiana said: “All the teams filled up completely and sold out in 24 hours. I had to expand it from 12 to 16 teams. All the boys are really excited.”

The community event will also feature assorted stalls, food, entertainment, and a corner for petting goats. The event costs £ 2 per person for general admission and £ 5 per family (two adults and two children).

The football tournament will be followed by an auction at the Banbury Cross Pub. There are also plenty of raffle prizes with tickets on sale at the Banbury Cross Pub. Raffle tickets are also available from Dawn Bennett via direct message on Facebook.

Conor Dowers performs Singin ‘in the Rain with Odyssey Youth (Image submitted by family)

Highlights of the auction include a signed Scott McTominay Manchester United football shirt (also signed by several teammates) and a signed John McGinn Aston Villa shirt.

Social distancing and other Covid regulations will be followed during the event, which is permitted under government guidelines as an outdoor charity event.

Tiana added, “I’ve known Conor for 19 years. When we were two, we met at Sharon Green Dance Academy.

“I’m just trying to help raise money for a tombstone. I know Conor would have done this for anyone. He was just a really loved boy.

Conor Dowers performs at the Stratford on Avon College Show (Image submitted by family)

“Conor was one of those guys who could turn to anything, and soccer was one of those things. He was a professional dancer, but he was also good at soccer.”

Conor took dance lessons from the age of 2 with his sister Francesca.

He trained in ballet, tap dance and modernity with the Sharon Green Academy of Dance and Musical Theater. He took Scottish dance lessons with the Acushla Highland Dance School (now Rosewood Highland Dancing School) where he performed with piper Steve Duffy and the Scots Guards for the Queen in The Beating Retreat, The Berlin Tattoo and numerous other events.

He trained as a Saturday Associate at the London Studio Center while at Stratford Upon Avon College. Conor also starred in Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty curtain raiser at Birmingham Racecourse.

Conor Dowers performing the Sword Dance (Image submitted by family)

Conor was famous in Banbury and known locally as Billy Elliott of Banbury, having played the lead role as a pupil of Banbury School at the age of 12. He finished his senior year in school playing the older Simba in The Lion King.

Conor grew up on stage performing in many shows for amateur theater groups including Odyssey Youth, YOBOS and The The Lynden Players. Her last roles were the lead roles in Pippin and Singin ‘in the Rain.

His mother Susan said: “Conor inspired many boys to start dancing and enter musical theater. I was very proud of him.

“Conor’s funeral took place on Saturday January 23 at the church in Bodicote where he was baptized. It was his last performance, a celebration of his life as a son, friend and life on stage, where he loved to be. After the service the hearse stopped at the ballet school where everyone applauded Conor in respect.

“Conor was buried in Bodicote cemetery. His older Nan and uncle Andrew are buried there. There were three singers at the funeral: Joshua Bertie, Joseph Bruce and Isaac Stuart who wrote his own song for Conor: ‘Keep on Dancing ‘.

“The family would like to thank Edd Frost of Edd Frost and Daughters, Reverend Dan McGowan, Steve, Mandy and Will Duffy and Sharon and Allan Green for all their help in serving Conor.

One of the dance moves performed by Conor Dowers (Image submitted by family)

“The family is very grateful to everyone who came to pay homage to Conor.”

Photo by Conor Dowers University (Image submitted by family)

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