Employee & Volunteers
WDSA (UK) is a growing organisation and we employ 1 office based staff who is supported by a wealth of volunteers who we hope to add to this list as the organisation grows, you can read more about what they do below.
Charlotte Bernstein – Grants Officer
Charlotte has several years experience of working on community arts projects. She learnt ballet and tap as a child and in 2005 re-awakened her love for dance by starting a journey into Kathak (classical Indian dance) which she now teaches beginners. She has an interest in the visual arts, creative writing and nature walks.
George Boustred – External Relations Officer
Having finished my degree studying Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia I have taken the position of External Relations Officer for the WDSA (UK). I have always been keen on the performing arts and I am a music lover, both as a listener and a performer, having learnt drums from a young age. Unfortunately my sense of rhythm from playing drums does not translate over to dance. Whilst I do appreciate watching dance performances, my own dance moves rival the ‘granddad at a wedding’ when it comes to style.
Being involved with the WDSA has shown me how important dance can be for an individual, wheelchair user or otherwise. I continue to be impressed by the work the WDSA does to enrich the lives of its members and instructors. I feel truly privileged to be part of a team that is doing so much to support Wheelchair Dance, something that is important to so many people. Through my degree I learned a lot about marketing and social media and I use these skills to grow the brand of the WDSA and also to increase the income of the charity through fundraising. I look forward to a future with the WDSA maximizing donations to keep the charity doing the important work it does, the best it possibly can.
Lin McGeough – Office Manager
I have always loved music, my grandparents were amateur ballroom dancers so I grew up seeing the beautiful costumes and trophies and that they were so proud of what they had achieved and the people they helped get involved, I have always wanted to dance but never got around to it
Since leaving school I developed a back ground in secretarial skills and marketing and I have three fantastic children who I love especially when they’re asleep
When my husband and I were planning our wedding we really weren’t sure what to do for our first dance, this is when we first met Sue and Ruth as they taught us a routine for our wedding and they rekindled my love for music and dance and inspired me to become a Level 2 instructor of wheelchair dance and I now run the Watford group with my husband.
I’ve been helping the WDSA (UK) with marketing and administration and when the office moved up to Watford in July, I was offered the role to run the administration and marketing in Watford and with my back ground in marketing and creative technologies, I agreed to help develop and run the WDSA (UK) main office in Watford.
I particularly enjoy seeing the difference that wheelchair dance and wheelchair dance sport can make to disabled people’s lives and I look forward to seeing the sport and dance activity grown in the UK
Kevin Pettifer - Research and Development Officer
After graduating with a BA(Hons) in Economics & Economic History from Leicester University, I spent 10 years working in various accountancy roles, mostly in the motor industry. Seeking a change, I then spent a couple of years working outside in nature conservation community projects where I enjoyed helping others, particularly those with mental health problems.
I used to play a lot of badminton and squash but my right shoulder has decided it’s had enough of that. Now I do a lot of walking, enjoy movies and being distracted with online games with my nephew via ipad.
I’m currently helping out with administration and marketing at the Watford office and very pleased I took the opportunity to volunteer here. The more I learn about wheelchair dancing the more I realise how much it can transform lives.
Louise Sampson – Technical Officer
Desperate to join my older sister, I started dancing at the age of three with Miss Viva Henshaw of the Whincroft School of Dancing. I took my first Imperial Medal just before my fourth birthday and completed the Imperial Medal and Awards as a juvenile and junior in both roles. During these early years I enjoyed performing and competing in both medallist festivals and open competitions securing top finalist placing on a number of occasions.
I turned professional at seventeen; passing both Associate qualifications in Ballroom and Latin American by the time I was twenty-one. Whilst building my teaching career, I have continued my professional development in dance performance and technical theory initially under the watchful eyes of Martin Simmonds and, latterly, with Miss Anne Lingard and Simon Cruwys. I am currently studying for the Fellowship grade in Latin with Simon.
I am the principal of my own school ‘Rhythm & Dance’ which provides dance tuition in East Dorset. My teaching experience covers a wide age range from the under 6’s to senior citizens. I particular enjoy assisting pupils within the school that have special needs including autism and learning difficulties. Rhythm & Dance offers both pupils and students from local educational establishments the opportunity of work experience and participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. I promote a positive atmosphere to the pupils and actively encourage participation in medal examinations and competitions.
I particularly enjoy training new professionals and adjudicating for which I hold a British Dance Council & World Dance Council Licence. In addition to teaching, I have successfully organised various dance events including Dance Holidays and Seasonal Balls. My latest achievements include finalist in the ISTD Modern Ballroom and Latin American Sequence Inventive Competitions held at Whitwick, Leicestershire with Mr Malcolm Hill.
Celina-Anne Martin– Social Media Volunteer
Celina has been a dance and music enthusiast from a young age. Taught by Frances Dawson at Broadway Dance Centre, she competed regularly in Ballroom and Latin dance during her teenage years and later went on to study Ballet and Tap at college. It was here where her teaching career began at the age of 16. She graduated in BA (Hons) Music and Professional Practice from Coventry University, and also completed many dance units on this course. Celina has taught dance at a wide array of schools in the Midlands, been involved in various projects/workshops such as ‘Black History Month’ for the Foster Care Agency, and also taught and performed in Europe and the United States. She is currently working towards completing further professional dance training Latin Dance with NATD and a Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning at Trinity Laban. She has a love for working with children and enjoys bringing the best out of her students.
Celina has been a dance and music enthusiast from a young age.
Taught by Frances Dawson at Broadway Dance Centre, she competed regularly in Ballroom and Latin dance during her teenage years and later went on to study Ballet and Tap at college. It was here where her teaching career began at the age of 16.
She graduated in BA (Hons) Music and Professional Practice from Coventry University, and also completed many dance units on this course. Celina has taught dance at a wide array of schools in the Midlands, been involved in various projects/workshops such as ‘Black History Month’ for the Foster Care Agency, and also taught and performed in Europe and the United States.
She is currently working towards completing further professional dance training Latin Dance with NATD and a Diploma in Dance Teaching and Learning at Trinity Laban. She has a love for working with children and enjoys bringing the best out of her students.
John Richards – Fundraiser
I left school at age 15 in 1964 and joined the Royal Navy, which I served in for 25 years; ‘retiring’ in 1989 aged 40.
I had several jobs after that. I went back to sea for three years doing marine seismic exploration and mapping work. That contract ended and went into food manufacturing which financed college studies for computer qualifications. My last employed post was as a staff I.T. trainer at a medium sized local FE/HE college. I was made redundant in 2011 and started my own business training I.T. software and producing software solutions for small and medium sized business.
I married my wife Kathie in 1979 and we travelled around together with the RN until we moved to Plymouth, where we lived from 1987 to 2000 and moved back to my hometown of Gravesend to be near Family.
My hobbies revolve more or less around what I am busiest with at any particular time. I still enjoy computing in its various forms.
I am involved with a local Baptist church where I am a Deacon and Lay-Preacher.
I am chairman of the local branch of the Royal Naval Association, which also has its own clubhouse in Northfleet.
I have been involved with the WDSA (in the background) for a couple of years, mainly helping Linda and Paddy out wherever I can. Seeing their first dance at their wedding was a wonderful surprise and absolutely brilliant. I was really not surprised when they got involved. I have been impressed with the scope, work and vision of the WDSA, which is the main reason for offering myself as a volunteer.
Rachel Wilson – Social Media
“I have always enjoyed dance – from taking ballet lessons as a little girl through to salsa and tap lessons at university then belly dancing and Zumba as an adult! Although this has always been a hobby as opposed to a career it’s great to be able to get involved in something I enjoy as a volunteer. I have previously worked as a social media community manager and analyst for a digital marketing agency in London which gave me a passion for communicating with people in this way. Since then I’ve continued with a career in marketing and now work for Action for Children, a leading children’s charity.
I’ve found the people I’ve worked with so far WDSA very inspiring and really hope to use my position as a volunteer to expand the reach and understanding of Wheelchair Dance Sport further.”
Emily Badvie – Tedwood Blog
In my free time I love fashion, shopping and writing, and of course socializing and going out with my friends. I have written articles for various websites, and online fashion magazine before before blogging for WDSA UK. I now currently have my own site (totallytrends.com).
Iain Richards – Media
Mohammed Kazmi – Website
Shanil Nakrani – Finance
Professional Freelance Dancers
The WDSA (UK) through our new merger with Sardine Dance Collective has access to a number of professional freelance dancers these include
Trained at Middlesex University in Dance & English and went onto teach, choreograph and perform in London. In 2007 she completed her MSc in Dance Science at Laban specialising in Dance and Disability. She is now a Creative Arts Manager and Producer, freelance teacher and dance scientist. Rachel produces projects in Creative Arts for young people in UK and in Africa that raises awareness of HIV/Aids.
Laura grew up in the heart of East London, grooving along with the Hip Hop vibe. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007 which led her to adapt her life and her new found love and focus of dancing in a wheelchair.
Laura has taught and performed with many companies such as East London Dance, Candoco, Boy Blue, Sidi Larbi, Impact Dance and GDance, and looks now to create her own vocabulary based on her interest in different styles, music and storytelling, founding DaJance Arts Collective which brings artists together to collaborate, based on common interests in inter-displinary arts.
For more information please visit her website: http://www.lauradajao.webs.com/
Laura Anne Smith
Laura-Anne received her first formal training in dance at Newham Sixth Form College; for which she later became a Learning Support Assistant, specialising in supporting students with physical disabilities and learning difficulties.
She was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 19. Laura has participated in numerous dance projects and site-specific work in Berlin, The Royal Albert Hall, south Bank, The Queen Elizabeth Hall amongst others. She has also appeared in a short piece called Three Minute Birth, which was screened on channel 4 and in an award winning dance film titled Home, which has been screened internationally.
Her work is influenced by other art forms, such as Kallarippayat (a south Indian martial art), Bharata Natayam, and Capoeira. After gaining a BA Honors in Dance at De Montfort University Laura-Anne found she had a strong interest in Dance/Movement Therapy and specifically in its benefits for people who have had their human rights abused.
Bought up on a diet of british rock music from the ‘Queen’, Daymien took to the performing world like a duck to water – attending acting classes with Barnardos Drama Group from the age of 5 years old before joining Spare Tyre Theatre Company for sporadic projects.
He then found his love for dance when he joined ‘Get Up And Groove’ integrated dance group run by East London Dance and now lead tutored by Charlene Low, which he has attended for 15 years. Formally known as ‘Jellybeans’ the session matured into ‘Get up and Groove’ who train in various dance styles, such as street and contemporary.
Daymien’s other passion lies in music and DJ-ing, particularly the RnB genre, where you’ll catch him at his regular spot every month as a guest DJ for the ‘Groovy Cat Club’ and ‘Kicking Kangaroo Events’ as his alias DJ Shake Me Up.
Born in Madrid, Shakti started gymnastics as a child before discovering Flamenco which led her to realise that her heart lay in working with her body. Shakti holds a strong interest and has a background related to art therapy, dance, theatre and digital film, where she has starred in and made two documentary’s, one short film and loves ‘Dance on Camera’.
She recently finished studying for her Diploma in Professional Dance Studies at The Laban Centre and is currently in the midst of her Master’s in Performance Making at Goldsmith’s. Shakti is currently is working as a community dance practitioner, and a performing member of Amici and ArtsBase, Dance Theatre where she continues to learn and develop her own work.