Meet the Team
Meet the ambitious team striving to make dance even more accessible across the UK
Patrick McGeough – CEO
I became disabled following a series of strokes in 1997. I have spent most of my career supporting charities to be more open or be more accessible and to help them to see the business opportunity of the disability market. Subsequently, I’ve spent a few years helping disabled people set up their own charities or businesses across the East of England and London Area. I have worked with and for many public organisations showing the benefits of engaging and working with the disability market, that was until 2008 when I had a second stroke leaving me unable to work and taking part in minimal activity.
I can understand that for a number of people daytime TV is great, sadly I am not one of those people and although my body may be held together with sticky tape my mind is still working and I wanted to be as active as I could possibly be, one such area that supported this was getting involved in wheelchair dancing, I have never claimed to be a professional dancer and I have as much rhythm as a teapot, but I always admired how fun dance and music can be, including when Lin and I were looking for the first dance for our wedding and everyone we spoke to said no until we met the people at Para Dance UK (formerly WDSA (UK)) who said yes, of course, you can! they didn’t care about my disability and simply said ‘we want you to have fun and be a couple’ so they supported us with a plan and through practising this I saw physical improvements while dancing our first dance.
In 2012, I trained to become a Level 2 Instructor of wheelchair dance, which then led us to work with the founders of the charity to set up a local group in Watford and to then volunteer to support and expand the National Office. I am a strong believer that dance and dance sport can be an effective tool to help keep your mind and body active no matter what the ability of the individual. Everyone should be given the opportunity whether they take it is their choice!
Emma Millward – Head of Para Dance Sport
I am the National Dance Manager and Head of Para Dance Sport at Para Dance UK. I lead the drive to make Inclusive dance accessible for all, authoring training and CPD programmes (such as the Inclusive Dance Training course) as well as Para Dance Sport training.
Qualified in dance with the ISTD, I also hold a Master’s Degree in Dance Technique Pedagogy, where I specialised in Inclusive Dance and research into the motivations of teaching dance and developing person-centred approaches.
I am passionate that everyone should be given the opportunity to discover the multiple benefits of dance and the impact that it can offer. With the diagnosis of a chronic medical condition, my empathy and understanding for the need for alternative dance accessibility increased and has only strengthened my determination to ensure that #everyonecandance
I regularly speak at national events for art, sport, community and disability, forming discussion boards along with delivering workshops to both professionals and participants.
Away from the office, I love music and can be found performing as well as taking out my frustrations on the golf course! I am never far from ‘Yogi the Perfect Pug’ who is trained to assist with my disability.
Lin McGeough – Operations Manager
My interest in music and dance started young, my grandparents were amateur ballroom dancers so I grew up seeing the beautiful costumes and trophies! I have three kids growing up way too fast, most of whom are into singing and performing so music being a large part of my life has rubbed off, it makes for a wonderfully lively and loud house, so I like coming to work for peace and quiet… (In theory, not always in reality!)
I have been involved with Para Dance UK since getting married in 2010 as Sue & Ruth (the charities founders) helped us with our first dance. I have really enjoyed the years working here within the growing and changing charity, with all of us working hard to ensure we can impact and create and improve training and ability to make dance as inclusive as we can. I am very happy heading up the ‘back office’ being a support to everyone ensuring they can continue to get out there and grow Para Dance UK at all levels.
Selina Johnson – Children’s Officer
I started dance at the age of 2 years and have never stopped since! I went on to study for my teaching qualifications At Bristol School of Dance and The Judith Hockaday school of dance where I gained qualifications in AISTD Ballet, Tap, Modern and disco freestyle, AIDTA Ballet, Tap and Modern, BTDA Ballet and RAD TC Ballet, ISTD Intermediate National and also Gained LAMDA ALAM.
After graduating I went on to perform for 10 years around the world covering a wide variety of shows including lead principle Vienna Festival Ballet with English National Ballet, Principal lead with The Boyfriend on tour, Operas, Pantomimes, Cruise ships, film credits The Remains of the Day Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson to name but a few!!!
After performing I decided to go back into teaching where I have successfully operated my own performing arts schools and also teach in many schools delivering GCSE, A-Level dance and after school dance clubs. My latest project has been joining Para Dance UK. The aim of this organisation is to make dance accessible to all which I love. The most rewarding part of being a teacher is to see the happiness and joy dance brings to all and to make a difference to people’s lives of all ages and ability.
In Summary! “A creative caring Dance Teacher who specialises in working with young children and adults helping them to explore within to release their creative inner selves. The best part about teaching is sharing the journey whilst progressing and achieving beyond both myself and the pupil.”
Claire Tracy – Para Dance Sport and Activity Coordinator
I started dancing aged 2 doing ballet and tap, and changed to Ballroom and Latin when I was 5. After teaching within the dance school and at local after school clubs, I became qualified aged 18 with the IDTA with an Associate Freestyle Disco and then went on to obtain my Ballroom and Latin Associates.
I also achieved a BA HONS in Professional Dance Development at Bucks New Uni in conjunction with the IDTA, where the modules were based around having a dance school business; including law, leadership, management, finance and choreography. While on the degree course I also studied with Allyson Cawood and achieved my Dance Exercise Diploma.
In addition to my passion for dance, I am also a qualified Youth Worker and have loved working with SEND children and young people and have also worked with older people doing intergenerational work and as a Personal Assistant as I love organising!
After a friend brought to my attention that there wasn’t any inclusive dance for her daughter to attend, in August 2016 I attended the Level 2 Wheelchair Instructor course and became affiliated with Para Dance UK. This brought my passions of dance and inclusivity together and the rewarding feeling from teaching inclusive dance and Para Dance Sport is the best thing in the world! I have done two other Para Dance courses too and love to continuously learn and spread the joy of dancing.
Samantha Parry – Project & Office Manager
Educated to degree level and specialising in administration, project, events and database management. I have over a decade of experience in working within the Education sector both nationally and internationally.
In 2018 I was awarded a Contribution to the Wider Community award for a project that I had volunteered my time to. It was through doing this work that I realised that I wanted to work within the charity sector and contribute my skills and expertise to help make a meaningful difference to people’s lives.
I am a strong believer in the power of dance and have seen first-hand the many benefits that dance can have in transforming lives. I am proud to be working for a charity that champions inclusivity and is working hard to unite, uplift and inspire people through showing how Everyone Can Dance.
Away from the office I enjoy music, travelling to new places and am a keen portrait artist
Victoria Heales – Activity & Projects Coordinator
I have danced for as long as I can remember! I graduated from the University of Chichester in 2006 with a BA (Hons) degree in Dance. I then studied for a Masters module in Dance Writing & Criticism at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. I moved to London in 2008 and worked at various prestigious organisations including Rambert Dance Company whilst being commissioned to write dance reviews on the side, for the likes of Dancing Times magazine and londondance.com. It was an exciting chapter of my life and I continue to enjoy writing and researching in my current role at Para Dance UK.
I sort of fell into disability dance! I volunteered to teach dance for YMCA East Surrey and was asked to take my first class at the Orpheus Centre, set up by Sir Richard Stilgoe. Here I taught wheelchair users and those with visual impairments for the first time. It was such an empowering experience and I simply couldn’t walk away. These guys and girls had so much passion for dance and it was then that I vowed to ensure that everybody had the chance to experience dancing and that it was ‘inclusive’.
I set up my own inclusive dance company in 2017 after the birth of my daughter. I have worked with nursery schools, schools; mainstream and SEN, care homes and in a leisure centre setting in addition to holding my own open wheelchair classes. I have taught dance for Horsham District Council at their holiday and activity camps and as part of their Reaching Higher project. I have also developed a close relationship with a small special academy status school in Surrey, teaching children with profound and complex medical needs as well as students with Autism, for the past three years.
2020 has seen me teach virtually for the first time! I have been honoured to lead classes for Whizz Kidz as part of a partnership project with an NHS Trust, making sure no young person is forgotten about during this pandemic. I’m also so excited about laying down more roots in communities through my role at Para Dance UK.
Katie Goodwin – National Representative
I have now competed in three National Championships, which I love. I do like to have something to work towards. When I found Para Dance I rediscovered my love for performing arts and dance, which I had from an early age.
I studied Performing Arts at the National Star College. I gained a BTEC First Diploma and a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts. While at college I worked with Trestle, and inclusive dance company.
I try not to let my disability stop me from living my best life.
I now feel that I would like to give something back to Para Dance UK within this role and keep the sparkle in wheelchair dance
Julia Eacott – Board Secretary
I joined Para Dance UK as Board Secretary in September 2020, to assist in the smooth running of PD-UK, using the skills I have acquired working as an Executive Assistant for several large corporate businesses.
Inspired by the Paralympics of 2012, I wanted to get involved with something of the same ilk– and was therefore delighted when I discovered PD UK. I love its ethos that ‘Anyone can dance! ‘ Having a background in dance (ballet, contemporary, jazz), I felt that this charity was the perfect fit for me.
Having lived in the Vendee region of France, I am a complete Francophile. I love cooking and going to Zumba in an attempt to burn off those calories! I also enjoy reading slice ‘em and dice’em books – when I can find the time.
Martyn McCarthy – Independent Chair
By training, I am a solicitor. My career has afforded me the experience of both private practice and being employed as an in-house counsel. Throughout my life, I’ve endeavoured to ‘put something back’ into my community, whether that community is the one where I live or my professional community. I am genuinely humbled to be able to ‘put something back’ into the community using my professional, interpersonal and innate ability to reach fair decisions with an inclusive, life-changing organisation, like Para Dance UK.
Yogi (The Perfect Pug) – Office Mascot
Hi! I’m Yogi and my Mummy says that I am perfect!
I’m nearly 4 years old and I live at home with my sister Belle. I didn’t have a great start to my life with lots of different homes and people weren’t always very nice to me. When I first came to live with my Mummy (Emma), my job was just to be.. well.. adored!! However, as I spend ALL of my time with her, I learned that I could help her when she wasn’t feeling sparkly and even let her know when she didn’t know herself! I’ve been told that I’m an unlikely breed for an Assistance Dog, but why should the Labradors have all the fun??
You can often find me at events or at Head Office and I help people to pass their assessments at practical training days. My favourite thing is to climb on Mummy’s lap and interrupt a conference call or ride on her lap in her wheelchair.
I look forward to meeting you all (especially if you carry snackies….)