The British Association of Teachers of Dancing

Who’s who

This area of the site introduces you to the members of the Executive Council of the B.A.T.D.

President – Miss Elma Whyte

Elma is a Life Member, Fellow and Examiner of the B.A.T.D. and is a Member of the Stage & Ballet Committee. Elma started dancing at the age of 2 and a half years and in 1966 she opened her own dance school and now runs her own highly successful private dance studio with many of her pupils teaching and performing throughout the world. For several years now Elma and her pupils regularly appear on Cbeebies TV programme. Her studio has been proud to receive for several consecutive years now a certificate of excellence from the Stage Dance Council International.


Immediate Past President – Miss Christine Aitken

Christine has been dancing since the age of 2 1/2years, winning the Scottish Championship at Cowal in 1957. She is the Principal of the Christine E. Aitken Academy of Dance in Paisley & Johnstone and has been teaching for 38years, Chairman of the Association’s Highland Committee and member of the Stage and Ballet Committee. She has been for many years a delegate of the Association on the SOBHD and also their Technical Committee. She is also Vice Chairman of the Scottish West Region. Christine is an Examiner with the B.A.T.D. and also S.O.B.H.D. Adjudicator.

Vice President – Mrs Diane Krugh

Diane MacPhee Krugh is a Life Member, Fellow and Examiner of the BATD in Highland and National and has been a Member of the BATD for 43 years.

For the past 38 years Diane has been the Dance Director at St. Thomas’ Episcopal School in Houston, Texas, where she teaches Highland Dancing full time with her sister Donna Cusack (BATD Examiner).

Seven of their students have won twenty-five United States Championship titles. Seven of their students have placed in the top six overall places in the Juvenile, Junior, and Adult World Championship twelve times.

Diane is the National Registrar for FUSTA. She is also the Co-Chair for the BATD North American Sadie Simpson Scholarships and Highland Weekend. Diane is an SOBHD Adjudicator and has adjudicated at many competitions and Championships all over the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Scotland and travels on a regular basis conducting workshops.

Diane is honored to have been voted at the BATD Conference 2019, to serve as an Executive Council Member. Diane lives in Houston, Texas with her husband John.



Miss Shelagh Connolly

Shelagh started her tutorage with her mother Miss Trixie Hardy and she has been teaching for the past 42 years in both Canada and the U.S.A. Miss Connolly is a Fellow and Examiner for the B.A.T.D. Stage Branches and a Life Member. She currently serves as Trustee for the Association and the North American Coordinator for the Stage and Ballet Branches. Miss. Connolly was the first North American to be elected to the Executive Council, and has since served as Vice President and President for the BATD. Miss Connolly introduced the jazz syllabus to the association and continues to promote its growth both in the United Kingdom and Canada. Shelagh now resides in Virginia USA where she is currently on staff at Forest Dance Academy.

Miss Christine Lacey MBE

Christine was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 New Years honours list for services to Scottish Highland Dancing.

Christine was elected Chairman of the World Governing Body for Highland Dancing in November 2006 – now known as The Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing.

Christine was awarded the prestigious Atholl Clasp Award from The Atholl Dancing Association in November 2019.

Christine is also a Trustee and Examiner of The British Association of Teachers of Dancing as well as an International Adjudicator on The Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing.

Among Christine’s many competitive credits are, six times World Highland Dancing Champion. Although well renowned in the world of Highland Dancing, Christine has also achieved recognition in both Tap and Ballet. She has held the titles of British Senior Ballet Champion; Scottish Junior and Senior Ballet Champion; Scottish Junior and Senior Tap Champion. Collectively, in all three disciplines she has accumulated over 250 Championship Titles.

She is always in great demand lecturing, examining and adjudicating all over the world.

Christine was trained at the Stewart School of Dancing in Alexandria, Scotland. Christine’s teachers at the School were – Miss Jessie Stewart Haggarty MBE, Miss Agnes Stewart and Mrs Nancy Haggarty Gibbons. Christine is most indebted to all three ladies for giving her the skills and the passion she has for Dance.

She now teaches dance full time and is thoroughly enjoying being able to devote her time and expertise to the dancing world.

Christine is happily married to Donald MacPhee who is a well-known piper and RSPBA Adjudicator.


Treasurer – Miss Diane Barron

Diane started dancing in 1953, turning professional in 62. She trained with and taught for Frank & Peggy Spencer at Penge. Over the years she has reached the finals of the Open British Championships. She has trained many students two later becoming World Champions. Diane is a Fellow, Examiner and Life Member of the Association. Diane has been a Vice President and President of the Association and is currently Treasurer and a member of the Executive Council. She is also a Ballroom Committee Member, a Rules Committee Member, a Conference Committee Member and Delegate for the B.D.C. Diane is also Past Press Representative.

General Secretary – Mr Mark Anderson

Mark began working at Head Office in 2002 as an office assistant.  After many years of growth and working on different aspects for the association as time and technology moved forward so did Marks role.  Working closer with Katrina Allan as she neared retirement and then taking up the position of General Secretary on 1st September 2023.  Mark hopes to continue the good work of my predecessor and that the Association goes from strength to strength.

Executive Council

Mr Howard Cookson

Howard is a past Vice President of the Association and is currently a member of the Executive Council, Ballroom Committee and a delegate for the British Dance Council. He is a Fellow and Examiner in the ballroom branches. At District level Howard is Chairman of the North West Area. Along with his wife Joanne, they have won many inventive dance competitions, including two wins at the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival. For many years Howard has been Compare of the BATD Inventive Dance Competition which is held at Conference. He also assists in the running of the Association’s North West Area Medallist Competition.


Miss Gayle Johnson

Vice President 2018/2019. Current member of the Executive Council, Fellow and Examiner for the B.A.T.D Stage branches. Gayle is a life member of the Association. A previous delegate of the T.D.C.I. for a number of years and has served many years on the stage and ballet technical committee. Gayle has run a prestigious dance school offering all genres of dance, thus making her aware of the ever changing youth of today. As a full member of the I.T.D.A she also an All England and British Federation Adjudicator, her dedication and encouragement ensures professional development at all times.

Mrs Heather Murray

Heather Murray has been a member of BATD for 45 years. Mrs Murray has been delivering dance education for many years, preparing students for BATD examinations as well as tutoring HND dance in colleges. She is an examiner in the stage branches and freestyle. Mrs Murray currently serves on the Stage and Ballet committee and the Executive Council.

Miss Helen Ford

Helen trained at the Sadie Simpson School of Dancing in Glasgow and later performed professionally in several stage shows in the Kings and Pavilion Theatres. She is also a licentiate of the London College of Music in Speech and Drama. Helen has held several offices within the Association and was President from 1991-95. She is also an examiner in the Theatre Branches and enjoys teaching.

Mrs Joy Tolev

Joy (Allen) Tolev started dancing at the age of 3 under the instruction of Mrs. Evelyn Murray in Toronto, Ontario. During her competitive days she successfully competed in many highland dance competitions and championships throughout Canada and the United States.

She has been teaching at her own school of highland dancing in Toronto for the past 44 years and has produced many dancers of high caliber who have captured titles in various championships including the Ontario, Canadian, Scottish, Commonwealth and World Championships. There have been over 29 Canadian Championship Titles, many Scottish and Commonwealth Championship titles and runner-ups, a World Champion who holds 10 World Titles, as well as many runner-ups in the Worlds.

She is a Fellow and Examiner of the B.A.T.D., North American Co-ordinator of the B.A.T.D., and adjudicator on the R.S.O.B.H.D. Judges panel.

Besides her busy teaching schedule, she travels across Canada, United States, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, judging, examining and conducting workshops.

Miss Christine O’Donnell

Christine is an Examiner, Fellow and Life Member of the BATD. She started Highland Dancing at the age of 4 being taught by well-known piper and adjudicator Iain MacDonald.
She was a resident dancer on the Gaelic tv programme Se Ur Beatha.
Christine was taught her Stage work at the Helen Young School of Dancing. She joined the BATD in 1969 and is now qualified in 10 branches of dancing.
Christine was a member of the BATD Highland Committee having been secretary for almost 10 years. She was a BATD delegate to the SOBHD and was a BATD delegate to the SOBHD Technical Committee. She is also an SOBHD adjudicator having judged in Canada, America and the UK.
Until June ’15 Christine had been Principal of the Helen Young School of Dancing since Helen’s very sudden death in 1987.

Mr John Comrie

John Comrie danced with his wife Charlotte in ballroom and Latin competitions and represented Britain and Scotland in international competitions.
They had a very successful dance school for many year’s. John was Past Vice President of the Association, Examiner, life member, Executive Council member for many years, member of the Ballroom Committee both Latin and modern.
Scotland West Region Chairman for many years. Both Charlotte and John were recipients of the Carl Alan award.


Mr Mark Bentley

Mark started dancing at the age of 6, and took his first BATD examination in 1981. In 1991 Mark took his first professional qualifying exam with the BATD and has been a Life Member since 2015. Mark taught at schools in Essex and East London and opened his own dance studio in 2012 where he continues to teach over 300 attendees. Mark was a member of Culture Shock UK Hip Hop Dance Troupe in the mid-2000s and has choreographed for many shows and troupes. He has entered countless students, adults and professionals for exams in his career. Mark is Vice-Chairperson for the BATD London Region Events Committee and this year(2023), Mark was elected to the Executive Council, and he is very proud to represent the Association in which he has spent his dancing life.

Miss Marion Sweeney

Marion Sweeney is a Life Member, Fellow and Examiner of the B.A.T.D. Currently a Member of the Executive Council, Member of the Ballroom Committee Freestyle, Majorette Committee and previously a Member of the Stage and Ballet Committee. Chairperson of the Stage and Ballet Branch of Scottish West Region for 5 Years.

Started dancing at the age of 3 and had a huge passion for the art of dance. Opened a very successful dance school training students to professional level who are now working in the industry and working all over the world. Training many students to become Teachers in the B.A.T.D syllabus.