Life’s looking ballet good for teacher Kathleen

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BALLET teacher Kathleen Burdon could be forgiven for pirhouetting with joy today – after being recognised by royalty.


She has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the latest Queen’s Birthday Honours list.


Ms Burdon, of Hemsley Road, South Shields, is the founder of the Kathleen Burdon School of Ballet, which she opened in 1960.


The honour recognises her outstanding voluntary service promoting and teaching dance in South Tyneside.


She has taught ballet to students from all over the region, and remains principal and teacher to this day at the school, which is based at Laygate Community School, South Shields.


Starting with just 14 pupils, the school has grown in size and reputation, and today offers ballet lessons to more than 100 students.


She said: “I don’t know who nominated me, but I was very surprised and honoured to get this award for something that I absolutely love to do.


“I’m no spring chicken, but I’m still teaching every night, except Wednesday, and on Saturday during the day.


“Ballet has really been a love and joy to me since I was a young girl. I hope I have passed on that love and joy to my pupils.”


Ms Burdon, whose late husband, the Reverend Dr Edward Baird, died nine years ago, aims to make classes available to everyone, and has ensured that pupils pay only a nominal amount for their classes to cover costs.


Recognised as a source of inspiration and guidance by other teachers and colleagues, in 2012 she was awarded the prestigious President’s Award by the Royal Academy of Dance for her lifetime’s dedication to dance.


She added: “I’ve no plans to retire. I’ll go on as long as I’m able to.”


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