Kathryn became the new president of CIOFF UK in 2021 and has been working hard to breathe new life into the organisation after the inactivity created by the restrictions of lockdown. She recently attended CIOFF World Congress in Budapest, which provided further inspiration to take CIOFF UK into the future. Through a boosted membership and a presence online through the website and social media, she is excited at the prospect of our achievements in 2022.

Kathryn has worked in education for many years as a teacher, English and Creativity Advisor and Director. She has produced and directed two Shakespeare plays with casts of young children in professional theatres and trained extensively in the Arts, including outreach workshops with the Royal Opera House in London. Her third project with Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation will take place in 2022 with her production of Macbeth at The Palace Theatre in Southend-on-Sea.

Kathryn was mesmerised by our flagship festival – Billingham International Festival of World Dance – from the moment the groups first gathered outside her house preparing for the opening parade when she was a little girl in 1965. Over the years, she helped out wherever she could doing such things as being a ‘runner’ and a ‘costume and backstage assistant’.   Eventually, she was asked to be an interpreter for a group in 1992; however, they failed to appear and she ended up being a guide for their replacement: a group of Tibetan monks! That’s where it all began. Since then, Kathryn has ‘guided’ around 30 different groups from all over the world and gathered a wealth of experience in all aspects of festival organisation and management: she is currently on the Board of Directors.

Over the years, through her involvement as a guide with BIFF, Kathryn has travelled to other festivals in Macedonia, Northern Cyprus and Confolens, in France. She has also regularly attended the bagpipe festival in Strakonice, Czechia. Through these visits and with her background in working in primary schools, she developed in interest in story-telling and theatre.

As well as her usual roles for Billingham International Festival of World Dance, including also being a compere in recent years, Kathryn performed at the ‘World in a Weekend’ 2021 BIFF as a storyteller. This finally combined her love of traditional stories with theatre as two family matinee stage productions were created (‘The Magic Bed’ and ‘The Man without a Heart), in collaboration with the visiting groups and Balbir Singh Dance Company.