Meet the Team

Meet the ambitious team striving to make dance even more accessible across the UK

 Yogi (The Perfect Pug) – Office Mascot 

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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….)

paw-print.jpgLicks and Snuffles

Yogi 

Patrick McGeough – CEO

Patrick.jpgI 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 practicing 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 not 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

Lin.jpgMy interest for 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 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 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 & East of England Regional Lead 

1115.jpgI 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 – Instructor Support Officer & South East Regional Lead

20191120_120011.jpgI 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 inter generational 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.

Charlotte Doe – Admin Volunteer

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I used to dance with Para Dance UK, I loved the accessible dancing for the feel good factor of being apart of a team. Having a background in dance with Chicken Shed Theatre Company, it felt like a natural step for me to become part of the office team. I enjoy working on the computer in the office alongside my supportive team. 

Niranjan Mendonca

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I am a senior Finance, Marketing and Governance professional with international experience in large Corporations across multiple countries. I look forward to support Para Dance UK using my wealth of knowledge and perspectives that add great value to the Governance team. 

Leanne Welland – Admin Volunteer

My passion for dance started Leanne.jpgat the age of about 5, where I joined a local theatre group performing in a variety of styles. Since then I immersed myself in any dance opportunities I could get and soon found a love for contemporary dance when I turned 11. I graduated from the University of Lincoln as a BA Hons student in contemporary dance, as well as performing in styles such as lyrical, jazz, ballet and musical theatre in the University dance society. 

Since graduating, I have performed with a contemporary dance company in Luton, began my career as a freelance dance artist teaching performing arts in various primary schools and community settings around Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and forever seeking artistic opportunities to help my development! 

I am immensely inspired by the fact that everyone can dance, and I am passionate about using my experience to provide opportunities for a range of ages and abilities. I especially want to develop inclusive opportunities for those who would otherwise be excluded and create an inspiring environment. I have recently completed the inclusive dance training course at Para Dance, which was an amazing experience and has inspired my practice. I thoroughly enjoy volunteering in the Para Dance office and am able to apply my knowledge from my training course but also develop a wider understanding on how dance can be made more inclusive.

Angie Goddard – Admin Volunteer

Originally from South Africa, I have been living, working and studying in London for the past 10 years.  After completing my Angie-Goddard-scaled.jpgPerforming Arts degree at London Metropolitan University, I developed a great interest in promoting and being involved with inclusive dance practices. I then joined Candoco’s Youth Dance Company, where I was able to collaborate with young dancers both with and without disabilities for 3 years. Having performed across the UK with various companies – including the Pascal Theatre Company, the Conway Collective, Yael Flexer for MOTUS, and the Bee Friendly Trust – I am now volunteering with Para Dance as an administrator in order to build new relationships and gain more experience behind the scenes.

Chrisa Theodoraki – Copywrite Volunteer

chrisa.jpgI am a London-based copywriter reformed digital nomad with a secret espresso addiction. 

Several moons ago I studied Journalism and did my Masters degree in International Relations at SOAS. I have also studied balled, ISTD modern, contemporary, jazz dance and Pilates and performed on stage during my college years. 

Nowadays I may have no muscle memory, but I doodle about dance, art, travel, beauty, health and lifestyle ,and all the positive things that improve our lives. My dream is a world where everyone is given a fair chance to follow their passion and shine. 

 

Pratibha Dewett – Digital Marketing Volunteer

Pratibha-Priya-Image.jpgI am the Digital Marketing Manager at Para Dance UK supporting the other team members in trying to ensure that the message of #EveryoneCanDance is delivered to the wider community.

I think dance offers multiple opportunities for creativity and self-expression besides helping express emotions, improve cognitive knowledge, uplift moods and self-esteem. It is a simple yet an immensely powerful tool – the benefits of which only further push me to deliver the #EveryoneCanDance message.

I have been working in multiple industries (media/food) as the Marketing Manager. I have helped launch multiple Food brands in new countries. I have worked in multiple geographies and have always been passionate about serving communities to help make a difference.

Perla Garcia – Graphic Design Volunteer

PerlaG_GD-copy.jpgI work in different projects and events as creative graphic designer for different customers and charities across all visual assets from digital to print, my love for dance started when i studied classic ballet for many years and i was born in Mexico where dance is part of the culture especially latin music, I worked as a volunteer with the Mexican Ballet Company and I believe that dance makes the world happier and united. 

 

Patrizia Bitonti – Marketing Volunteer

Patrizia-scaled.jpgI grew up in a house where music was a part of everyday life. One of my two brothers loved to sing Italian songs on a microphone and the other loved playing the guitar.  My Dad would join in with a harmonica and he still play today at the age of 87. We listened to all types of music and, as a child, I would jump and move to the sound. Despite not having any dance classes in my local village, I developed a passion for dance through my family’s love of music and my imagination.

Nearly four decades later my passion for dance continues. I recently started a new class. And after each lesson, I feel better. My physical, mental, and emotional health always improves. I truly believe that dancing in any form is a must!

I recently joined Para Dance and am helping to spread the divine message: ‘#everyonecandance’.  So please if you are feeling this vibe inside, just follow it and start dancing.

 

John Allen – Marketing Volunteer

John.jpgI am an award-winning writer, digital content manager and mental health at work consultant. I have worked with organisations including Mind and on international campaigns including Time to Change. I like to volunteer my time and help people where I can.

I began learning to dance in 2012 before stopping when a Salsa instructor told me I ‘had no rhythm’. Dejected, I left dancing until 2017 when I joined a ballroom and Latin class. The new instructor was appalled when I told him of the Salsa experience and said “There is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher.” I didn’t believe him until I successfully learned a range of styles including Tango, Jive, Cha-Cha, Waltz, Rhumba and Quickstep. I’m not going to win any international awards, but I love the fact that as a visually impaired guy… I can dance. So much for ‘no rhythm.’

 

Martyn McCarthy – Disciplinary Chair  

Martyn-McCarthy-1.jpgBy training, I am a solicitor. My career has afforded me 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.