PUPILS from a Helensburgh dance school have returned home from another fantastic visit to Hawaii for the Pacific islands’ annual Hawaiian Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
Seven pupils from the Margaret Rose School of Dance won trophies at the annual event in Honolulu, at which the Helensburgh-based dance school was present for a 10th time.
This year’s dancers spent the first week of their trip in Maui, putting on a Highland dancing demonstration for local residents and receiving a lesson in a lovely hula dance from an 88-year-old hula teacher named Dolly.
Next up for the group was the islands’ capital, Honolulu, where they visited Pearl Harbour and danced in a nursing home for residents – though there was a sad note for the visiting Scots when they realised that a lady from Dundee, who they met in the home on their 2016 visit and who had been moved to tears by seeing Scottish Highland dancing in her adopted home, had since passed away.
The Margaret Rose dancers did exceptionally well at the festival’s dancing competition, with Anna Rose King winning the solo competition and the junior girls winning the group competition prize.
The school’s seven trophy winners were Kaley Jones, Cara Robertson, Kayla Morley Smith, Anna Rose King, Katriona Lowther, Maria Buchan and Chloe Arkley.
The group was completed by Eva Lily King, Georgia Dennett, Lily Dennett and Isla Sanderson – and every dancer who took part came home to Scotland with medals.
And the dancers weren’t the only ones to join in during the Highland Games, with two parents, David Robertson and Tony Lowther, working as MCs at the event and a third, Karen Lowther, acting as scrutineer for the dancing competition.
During their visit the girls also danced at the annual memorial service for Princess Victoria Ka’iulani Cleghorn, the daughter of Hawaiian Princess Miriam Likelike and Scots businessman and benefactor Archibald Cleghorn, who died in 1899 aged 23.
The dancers’ teacher, Margaret MacInnes, said: “I was so pleased – four of the children had never had a passport before, and this was their first time on a plane. What fantastic memories for them.
“Our Hawaii link started at a meeting at the Ardencaple Hotel more than 10 years ago when a man whose daughter did Irish dancing suggested an exchange programme.
“That programme didn’t come off, but he put me in touch with the Hawaiian Scottish Association, who asked us to go and dance out there.
“At first I thought it would be too expensive and too far away, but Heather McGregor from the HSA offered to help.
“It takes 24 hours to get there but it’s worth all the effort – we’ve met some fantastic people over the years and received recognition for what we’ve done for tourism.
“At the moment we’re the only dance school in Scotland to travel to Hawaii for the event but I’m persuading a dance school in Turriff to go next year.
“We’ve already started fundraising for our trip back next year.”
And the Margaret Rose School of Dance hasn’t finished globe-trotting yet – a group will also travel to Prince Edward Island in Canada in July.