Day School

The Branch runs an annual Day School each October. There are morning and afternoon classes with an optional afternoon workshop, followed by an evening dance with ceilidh items. There is also a Musicians’ class, leading to playing for the evening dance.

The Day School will take place on 20 October 2018 at St Helen’s School, Eastbury Road, Northwood, Middlesex HA6 3AS

Start time 10.00 am for enrolment and coffee. Morning session starts 10.30 am and afternoon session 2.00 pm

Teachers: Andrew Nolan (London), Pat Houghton (Edinburgh), Emma Allsop (Aberdeen), Tom McKinlay (Paris), Joan Desborough (London)

Musicians: Barbara Manning, Sandra Smith, Ken Martlew, Chris Oxtoby

The Musicians’ workshop will be led by Ian Robertson.

Application forms are now available

Dancers’ application form   





Musicians’ Workshop application form





If payment is to be made by bank transfer, please fill out the electronic application forms below.


Teachers and musicians for the Branch Day School 2018


Emma Allsop

My name is Emma and dancing has always been a huge part of my life. I started at the age of 2 and have been dancing ever since. I grew up learning ballet, modern, tap, highland and Scottish Country and while at University even gave Salsa dancing a try!

I learnt Scottish Country Dancing up in Aberdeen at the Airyhall Children’s class. My mum is also a Scottish Country Dance teacher and encouraged me to go along. Mrs Young is an excellent teacher and her passion for dancing fell onto me. I stayed at this class all through school and started helping out with the younger children as I got older. When I attended University, I stayed on and helped teach the class. Mrs Young encouraged me to take my teaching certificate as soon as I was old enough and I went off to St Andrews Summer School to sit the course.

Since completing my Teaching Certificate I have continued to teach at Airyhall, as well as for RSCDS Aberdeen Branch and over the years taught their beginners, intermediate and advanced classes. I also taught at the Aberdeen Youth Day School. I have also taught at other smaller branches and groups in the North East Scotland, (Stonehaven and Banchory). I have also written a couple of dances which have been published.

I have been on the RSCDS Youth Services Committee and also on the Planning Group for their Business Plan. It is so interesting getting involved with the activities that go on in HQ. One of the highlights of serving on YS was organising a Flashmob in a shopping centre in Aberdeen. The atmosphere with all the dancers and live music was unbelievable.

Since moving to London, I have kept up with dancing and have taught occasionally for the London Branch and other groups; Richmond and Chiswick included. And I’m very much looking forward to teaching at the 2018 London Day School.

Scottish country dancing has also given me so many opportunities which I am grateful for. I have danced on Blue Peter, also on a BBC documentary about Scottish dancing as well as dancing in Holyrood Palace for the Queen! I have also competed in many competitions and festivals; from Aberdeen to Newcastle and participated in many demonstrations. All of these have been such great experiences.

I am also a qualified Highland Dance and Ballet teacher. I really love dancing and teaching and trying to spread the joy of dancing. It’s such a social activity and a great way to get fit.

Pat Houghton

Pat was born in Glencoe, Argyllshire and lived for many years on an arable farm in Easter Ross where her husband grew malting barley to make whisky. She now divides
her time between Hampshire and Edinburgh and enjoys dancing whenever and whereverpossible.
Pat took her Teaching Certificates at St Andrews Summer School and has been a member of several demonstration teams. She first taught at St Andrews in 2005 and has been on the staff every year since, teaching at all levels of experience. Pat has also taught at three RSCDS Winter Schools and enjoys teaching at local classes and at day and weekend schools in the UK and Internationally.
Pat is an RSCDS tutor, adjudicator and examiner.

Aileen Napper*
(Tom McKinlay has unfortunately had to withdraw from teaching at our Day School this year. We are, however, pleased to advise that Aileen Napper has agreed to take his place.)

Bio to follow.




Andrew Nolan

Originally from near these parts, Andrew learned to dance at a children’s class in Isleworth and it has stuck with him ever since. Since gaining his certificate in 2012 while at University in Edinburgh, he has taught as far afield as Novosibirsk and Ottawa as well as in the UK at Summer School and last year at the RSCDS AGM. He is active within the Edinburgh Scottish Dancers group and also enjoys playing for SCD. Andrew takes a particular interest in less well known or ‘forgotten’ dances so hopes there will be something new for everyone in the class.


Barbara Manning

After many years as a keen Scottish country and highland dancer, Barbara Manning turned her classical music training to band use over 35 years ago, and since then has accompanied dancing in many parts of the UK and Europe, the USA, Ukraine and Russia, besides visiting Summer School both as a dancer and musician. She has played for numerous day schools and London Branch technique classes, and has featured on recordings and with McBain’s Band on Radio Scotland’s ‘Take the Floor’ from St Columba’s, Pont Street and on the Earls Court Radio Show, besides playing on stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for the Royal Ballet School’s Annual Performance in 1985. She currently plays mainly with the Silver Cross Band and in a duo with Ken Martlew, besides featuring solo on either piano or fiddle. In November 2016, Barbara was delighted to receive from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association the personal award of Vicki Avery for Service to Amateur Theatre.

Ken Martlew

Ken has been a semi-professional musician most of his life, mainly with church music and conducting choral societies. He read music at Oxford University for a year before switching to medicine. While a medical student he gained his (ARCO) diploma on the organ, conducted numerous choirs, and composed an opera which was successfully performed at the college.

Around 1980 he discovered Scottish Country Dancing, and became a keen dancer, gaining his RSCDS Teacher’s Certificate in 1993. He then started playing the piano for Scottish Country Dancing, giving up regular church and choral music commitments to concentrate on it. In 2002 he retired from his medical work as a GP in order to give more time to music and SCD.

Since 1994 Ken has been a frequent pianist at St. Andrews Summer School. He was Branch Pianist at Cambridge for 8 years, moving on to the Berks./Hants./Surrey Borders Branch, and he played for the London Advanced /Technique class for 15 years. He has taught or played for countless SCD events in the UK and in some 14 other countries. He has run SCD Music Workshops in Germany, France and Holland, danced with the London demonstration team, and tutored a successful RSCDS Teachers Certificate course.

Ken regularly teams up with Barbara Manning (or other violinists), to form a duo. The combination is versatile, as he can teach classes in the day accompanied by Barbara, and play as a duo for the evening Dances.

Chris Oxtoby

Chris has been playing accordion for Scottish country dancing for more than 20 years. Before that she ran her own English dance band, and was a member of London Folk (an English dance display team). Forming Strathallan, with Ann and Martin, seemed like the obvious next thing to do.

Prior to that, Chris was a member of the Scottish dance trio Sound Company for 14 years and played throughout the south of England, and regularly in Europe and the Channel Islands. She has played on several commercial recordings, and plays regularly for dance classes and day schools.

Chris has performed at many major folk festivals, including the annual Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival – probably the premier showcase event for Scottish traditional music. Chris has travelled to Russia, France and Ireland with the Scottish dance display team Corryvrechan, leading the band during the past few years.

Sandra Smith

Sandra was brought up in Inverness where she was introduced to Scottish Country Dancing by her parents who were both keen dancers. Her Mother, an amateur pianist collected the RSCDS books which inspired Sandra to play Scottish music. She continued dancing and playing during her time at school, attending a class before she went to university.
After obtaining a music degree at Edinburgh University, she was awarded a scholarship for study abroad. She gained two diplomas in Vienna and was
invited to join the staff as a vocal coach. She then moved to France where she
worked as a repetiteur in the Opera House in Rouen. On her return to the UK, she settled in London where her connection with dancing resumed. She was approached by Mary Stoker who was looking for a pianist as Phyllis Draper was retiring. Sandra played for Mary’s classes in Pinner and her Monday night classes in London for many years. Her
contribution to the society is as class pianist and Demonstration Class pianist. She has also played for numerous Day Schools, and with various instrumentalists and bands.

Sandra is on the staff of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the
London College of Music, and has a busy private practice as a vocal coach and

Musicians’ Workshop

Ian Robertson

Ian comes from a family steeped in Scottish music. Classically trained, Ian is a highly experienced Scottish dance musician with over 35 years experience having played with many top bands in the U.K. as well as having led his own band, Sound Company, for 15 years.

Equally at home on fiddle and accordion, Ian plays regularly for country dances, weddings, ceilidhs and concerts across the U.K. He has also played regularly for Branch classes and at numerous day and weekend schools in this country and abroad.

In addition to being a superb musician and band leader, Ian is an accomplished composer and in 2014 published “The Call of Home”, his first volume of compositions for fiddle and accordion.

Branch Day School report 2017

Dancers gathered for the annual Branch Day School at Paddington Academy on Saturday 21 October. They enjoyed classes for all abilities with excellent teaching from Lindsey  Ibbotson, Tom Ibbotson, Helen Russell and William Williamson. Accompanying the classes with some fine music were Barbara Manning, Ian Muir, Judith Muir and Ian Robertson.

The Musicians’ workshop, led by Ian Muir (Prestwick), was enjoyed by some 20 musicians who then played for the evening’s dance, MC’d by Peter Knight. Read more »