Congratulations Jean Swanston

Congratulations to our 2020 Atholl Clasp recipient – RSOBHD Vice President Jean Swanston. Jean was presented with her Atholl Clasp on Friday 13th November by Atholl Dancing Association Chairman Liz Douglas at our online AGM.

Jean is pictured with Liz Douglas – the Golden Jubilee banner was made by Anne Pealing who was the ADA chairman in 2000, when the Atholl Clasp was first presented at Blair Castle. The design was the winning design for a t-shirt, which Jean still has!


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Rosemary Breman

The RSOBHD are saddened to hear of the passing of Rosemary Breman, a former member of the RSOBHD Judges Panel, who passed away on Friday 9th October 2020.

Our thoughts are with Rosemary’s family, friends and dancers at this time.

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Betty Lawrence

The RSOBHD are saddened to hear of the passing of Betty Lawrence, RSOBHD Honorary Member and former member of the RSOBHD Judges Panel, who passed away on Thursday 1st October 2020.

Our thoughts are with Betty’s family at this time.

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Cathy Hynd

The RSOBHD are saddened to hear of the passing of Cathy Hynd, a former member of the RSOBHD Judges Panel, who passed away peacefully on Wednesday 29th July 2020 after a long battle with Alzheimers.

Our thoughts are with Cathy’s husband John and their family at this time.

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Virtual Events

The RSOBHD Office Bearers have met with organisers of various “virtual” planned events as per the request from the Board membership at their recent meeting on May 17th.  

Following on from those discussions the agreed outcome in those meetings was to ensure that, in the short-term, these events were performance related and not competitive.

Longer term, as suggested by the Board membership, we will investigate the possibility of creating a set of guidelines which will cover off what is safe and equitable across the entire dancing community to provide performance and motivational events which meet with Child Protection and equality issues. Our desire is to ensure our dancers are engaged and motivated in a safe and protected environment whilst being mindful of the dancers’ health and well-being during these uncertain times. 

We do appreciate the current innovative ideas being suggested by many groups throughout the world, however we trust that everyone understands the importance of us, first and foremost, producing a clear set of guidelines to be adopted by our entire world wide community for the protection of all of our participants.

The task in hand of creating a set of guidelines has commenced however we would welcome any suggestions or comments. These should be sent to the Board, either through your dance organisations and teaching associations or direct by email to the Director of Administration at RSOBHD HQ in Edinburgh.

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Anne McIlroy

The RSOBHD are saddened to hear of the passing of Anne McIlroy, a  member of the RSOBHD Judges Panel, who passed away on Friday 10th April 2020 from coronavirus.

Anne McIlroy – Dancer, Teacher, Adjudicator, Competition Organiser, World Champion and Judge at our World Championships – had achieved so much that all highland dancers would wish to have in their biography.  Nevertheless COVID-19 does not discriminate within our dancing community and even the great and the good are likely to succumb.

We like to believe that our background and training makes us, even into our later years, more fit to cope with illness and disease.  How wrong we are as shown by this loss.

In the current circumstances we will not be able to show our appreciation of her life and achievements in person at her funeral.  It makes it even more important to show through the RSOBHD that her contribution to Highland Dancing in so many ways was valued and acknowledged.

Another statistic and another data point becomes all too real a person, a colleague and to many dancers, particularly on Bute and the Cowal peninsula, someone to look up to and to admire.  She may no longer be with us in life bit her story and inspiration will live on through her family, friends and students.  She will not be forgotten.

Our thoughts are with Anne’s family at this time.

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RSOBHD Judges Tests

The Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing, like most people, businesses and organisations, has been working hard to adapt to the unprecedented conditions delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic while conforming to the contingency measures being set by each of our Governments and their respective legislation.

The pandemic is impacting across the world and proving to be more disruptive and potentially longer lasting than many of us might have first thought. The duration of the crisis will be dictated by many factors which will vary from country to country.

Accordingly, for the health and well-being of our entire global dancing community, the difficult decision has been made to cancel all RSOBHD Judges Tests in 2020. We are very conscious that candidates’ plans, both study and financial, would be escalating in the near future and this was taken into consideration when making our final decision. This was the unanimous decision of the Judges Committee members which was supported unanimously by the Office Bearers.

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The RSOBHD recommends that, in all affected areas, all events are cancelled/postponed for the health & safety of our community.

As a worldwide governing body we are aware that the situation is changing on a daily basis and, therefore, the timeframe of this recommendation is until further notice.

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COVID-19 – UK Update

Many people will have seen the headline on Thursday 12th March that Scotland’s First Minister advised that mass gatherings of 500 people or more should be cancelled from the start of next week.  As far as we are aware the ban, at this time, is in relation to frontline emergency staff having to be in attendance at these events. As frontline emergency staff do not attend our events unless arranged by the organiser there is no direct impact.    However, this information is changing on an almost daily basis and we advise competition organisers to work with their venue and be guided by any restrictions put in place by the venue, local council or government.  We continue to try and get information directly from the Scottish Government to advise our event organisers.

Attendees at any events should follow advice given by health services and their local area/council.

Organisers of events outwith the UK will be guided by the restrictions put in place by their local area / government and supported by their national organisations i.e. ABHDI, FUSTA, OBHD(SA), ScotDance Canada, ScotDance New Zealand.

If you have queries regarding whether or not particular events are going ahead please contact the organiser directly. We will post via our Facebook page of any events that we have been advised are being cancelled/postponed.

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New Year Honours

Many congratulations to Margaret MacInnes, member of the BATD, who has been awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) in the 2020 New Year Honours list for services to Highland Dancing and the community.

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