Dance teacher celebrates half a century of teaching in Harpenden
PUBLISHED: 18:45 07 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:00 09 October 2019
A Harpenden country dance teacher is celebrating 50 years of do-si-dos and figure eights.
Kate Penny, 82, was honoured for her achievement at a special get-together at Rothamsted Pavillion on Saturday.
A combination of Kate's friends and family, plus past and present pupils, came from all over to share memories of their dance lessons and other stories.
Over her 50-year career, she has taught Scottish country dancing to hundreds of local adults and children.
She started teaching classes for children at Harpenden School of Dancing at St Nicholas Church Hall in the 1970s and 1980s then moved to the Harpenden Further Education Centre - later part of Oaklands College - carrying on freelance when the college closed.
One of her students, Beth Allen, has worked with her for 48 years and said she still finds her very inspirational.
Beth, whose daughters previously went Kate's classes, said: "I have known her for so long and she is such a good friend to me. She is a fantastic teacher and she never gets cross. Very patient and kind.
"Kate got us all organised and dancing together on Saturday. It was such fun."
Kate said she has enjoyed dancing ever since beginning country dancing lessons at the age of four: "Dancing has always been in my bones - it is a part of me.
"There is a lot of competition for dance nowadays now with so many other activities available like horse riding and computers."
The dance teacher said that she believes it is really good for people's physical and emotional well-being: "My oldest pupil was 94. Dancing keeps people out of hospital.
"I love Strictly Come Dancing. It is great and I think it has encouraged younger people to take up dance."
Kate added: "Children and adults gain so much from it. It also helps older people - it is good for the brain, learning the steps and timing, for example."
As well as enjoying food, drink and dancing, and a current pupil had made a cake.
The evening was a very special time for Kate to reflect: "I just do a job, passing on something that I love.
"It was a wonderful evening and there was a marvellous atmosphere."
Kate's current Scottish dancing class, who meet every Thursday in Batford Church Hall, presented her with flowers and a gardening voucher which is another great passion of hers.