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 apear on Cbeebies TV programme. Her studio has been proud to recieve 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 – Miss Gayle Johnson

Gayle is a Fellow and Examiner for the B.A.T.D. Stage branches and is a Life Member of the Association. She is an active delegate of the T.D.C.I 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 an All England and British Federation Adjudicator, her dedication and encouragement ensures professional development at all times.



Mr Richard McGilchrist

Richard McGilchrist

Richard started dancing at the age of 9 competing in Modern Ballroom, Classical and Latin American.  As an amateur he competed at Championship and International level, was a member of the Scottish International Team and Scottish Open Classical Champion.

He turned Professional in 1972 and was elected to the Executive Council in 1987.  Richard is a Fellow, Examiner and Life Member of the Association and is currently the Senior Trustee and a member of the Executive Council.

He is qualified in Modern Ballroom, Classical, Latin American, Freestyle, Rock & Roll and Country and Western.  He is also a member of the Association’s Ballroom Committee.

He was a member of the Committee who gained the Association recognition for their dancing qualifications and currently represents the Association on the Council for Dance Education and Training (C.D.E.T.) the governing body for recognised educational qualifications.

Miss Shelagh Connolly

Shelagh started her tutorage with her mother Miss Trixie Hardy and she has been teaching for the past 37 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 has recently been appointed as 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.

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 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 Committe Member, a Conference Committee Member and Delegate for the B.D.C. Diane is also Past Press Representative.

General Secretary – Mrs Katrina Allan

Katrina started dancing at the age of 4. She joined the BATD in 1973 and in 1975 opened her own dance school. She also went to work in BATD head office in 1975. In 1989 Katrina was elected to the Executive Council and in 1990 was appointed as the Association’s General Secretary.


Executive Council

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 – The Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing – in November of 2006.

Christine is also a Fellow, an Examiner and an Executive Council Member of The British Association of Teachers of Dancing as well as an International Adjudicator on The 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.


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 & Drama. Helen has held several offices within the Association and was president from 1991-95. She is also an examiner in the Theatre Branches.


Mr John Comrie

John with his wife Charlotte started dancing as an amateur being trained by Harry & Helene Rollins. He danced successfully both home and abroad in many major Championships and was a Scottish Internationalist in the Ballroom and Latin Field.

He ran a very successful and privately owned dance studio in Airdrie where many couples were taught from raw beginners to Championship status. He was also one of the first promoters of Freestyle Competitions and in 2001 was awarded the prestigious Carl Alan Promoters Award.

He is a Fellow/Examiner and Life Member of the BATD and has been Vice Chairman and for many years has been and still is the Chairman of Scottish District West.

Mr Tony Lawrence Cauchi

Tony Lawrence is currently the President of The Malta National Dance Council and Chairman of the Malta Region of the B.A.T.D. He has held this position since the foundation of the Region in 1992. He is a Fellow and Life member of the Association, BDC Certified Scrutineer and WDC International Adjudicator.

He started dancing at the age of 11 in 1966, turning professional in 1977. As a professional he competed at International Championships level, at the UK Open Modern Championships and London Open Modern Championships. He trained many of the Maltese National Champions, including the legendary couple Tony and Angele Bianchi who won 9 consecutive Modern National Championships. Prepared many students for their professional examinations and heads the Tony Lawrence Dance Centre where he still coaches dancers.

Tony feels honoured to be appointed as an Executive Council Member of the British Association of Teachers of Dancing.


Mrs Diana Freedman


Diana is a Life Member, Fellow and Examiner for the B.A.T.D. in Ballet, Stage and Freestyle and has been a Member of the Association for 33 years. She is a former Chairman and now Vice Chairman of the London Region and actively helps in the organisation of the London Region Stage Festival.  Diana started dancing at the age of 6 before dancing professionally, and then opening her own prestigious school in 1989.  She now has 2 thriving Studios in the South East offering all forms of dance and teacher training.  Diana is delighted to have been elected onto the B.A.T.D. Executive Council at Conference 2015.


Mr Ian McLeod

Ian started his professional career as a soloist with Scottish Ballet before venturing into the commercial theatre world where he was a principal dancer in London’s West End and performing in many T.V. shows, films and music videos.

Ian has been teaching and choreographing for the last 30 years.  He is an examiner of the B.A.T.D. and a previous member of the Stage and Ballet Committee.


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 9 branches of dancing.
Christine is currently a member of the BATD Highland Committee having been secretary for almost 10 years. She is 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.


Miss Margaret Smith


Margaret is a Past President of the Association and currently a member of the Executive Council, Stage and Ballet Committee and Rules Committee. She previously held the office of Scottish West Chairman (for several years) and has been on district committees organising various competitions and events.

Margaret is a Fellow and Examiner and has a successful Dance School on the south side of Glasgow. She teaches a wide range of subjects including Tap, Modern Dance, Jazz, Acro/Gymnastic, Ballet, Highland, Majorette, Freestyle/Hip Hop, Rock & Roll and Country and Western.

Mr Howard Cookson


Howard is a fellow and examiner in the ballroom branches. He is currently also a member of the Association’s Ballroom Committee and is the North West Area Chairperson. Along with his wife Joanne, they have won many inventive dance competitions which include two wins at the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival. Howard has been compare of the BATD Inventive Dance Competition which is held at Annual Conference for the last few years and assists in the running of the BATD North West Area Medallist Competition.