There was no better way to celebrate 21 years teaching line dancing.
Surrounded by loving friends, including many who are also her students, Alison Bathgate kicked up her heels and smiled profusely as she happily danced with the same passion, dedication and enthusiasm that has seen her become one of Grafton’s most beloved dance teachers.
As a sizeable crowd including renowned Sydney choreographer Gordon Elliott attended a special anniversary celebration in recognition of Mrs Bathgate’s impressive teaching career at the South Grafton High School Auditorium on June 18, they all agreed her “big heart, professionalism and sincerity”, make her the best dance teacher they know.
“She’s absolutely wonderful, she’s very good at teaching and she makes her classes so much fun,” said Lynnyrose Broadway, who has been line dancing with Mrs Bathgate for more than seven years.
“I always enjoy dancing with Alison.”
Mr Elliott, who has known Mrs Bathgate for more than 20 years, described celebrating 21 years teaching line dancing as a huge milestone.
“She was almost thrown into the deep end when she first started teaching after the previous local instructor left and no one else wanted to step up to the mark,” he recalled.
“21 years later and she’s still going strong, which is absolutely wonderful.
“She’s so passionate and it was amazing to celebrate 21 years teaching line dancing with her.”
As she looked appreciatively at the crowd who gathered to celebrate with her, Mrs Bathgate said she was humbled to see so many people in attendance and thanked them for their continuous support.
“I love teaching line dancing and it really is a wonderful celebration for everyone,” she said proudly as she gestured across the room.
“They’re not only my students, they’re my friends.
“Line dancing has brought us together.”
Towards the end of the evening, Mrs Bathgate was presented with several gifts including a new watch and a wooden key which had been made by the Grafton U3A Men’s Shed and engraved with a special message to commemorate the celebrations.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Mrs Bathgate said as she fought back tears of gratitude.
“Thank you so much.”
Following the celebrations on June 18, Mr Elliott held a line dancing workshop at the same venue the next afternoon, which Mrs Bathgate also attended.
Mr Elliott said the event was well attended with 87 people participating.
“Everyone had a great time and we’re looking forward to holding the event again next year,” he said happily.