A young Newton Stewart Highland dancer is looking forward to taking on a new challenge this summer by dancing her way round Australia and South Africa.
Eighteen-year old Ellis Hayes is one of the most successful dancers of her generation with a handful of world titles already under her belt, plus a raft of championships in this country and further afield in North America.
Ellis will travel with her family, mum Sheron, dad Jim and brother Struan and her dance teacher Shendl Russell to the southern hemisphere,
Firstly the party will travel to Adelaide to take part in the Australian Champion of Champions and then after that it is off to Johannesburg for the South African Championship.
Ellis is grateful for the support she has received for the trip from the Galloway Association of Glasgow and also to the Wigtownshire Sports Council for their help with her expenses last season.
Moving up to the adult league this season, Ellis has been training hard with her dance teacher Shendl.
One great advantage that modern technology has brought is that Ellis can now get her lessons via video link, bringing to an end the thrice weekly trips to Prestwick by car.
In the adult division, Ellis will be competing against girls who have made a career from dancing.
Many Highland dancers in Canada go to a specialist dance school to hothouse their talents and allow then to train in other disciplines like ballet.
But although a career in dance beckons, sixth-year pupil Ellis is hoping to study to become a dentist when she leaves Kirkcudbright Academy, but she will keep up with her dancing because she loves doing it.
In her spare time Ellis has tried her hand at many sports and was particularly fond of snowboarding.
But, as she is competing at such a high level as a Highland dancer, she has had to park the snowboard for the time being in case she gets injured.
Modest and polite, Ellis was amazed at the reaction she and the other dancers get when competing in Canada especially, when they are often stopped and asked to pose for ‘selfies’.
Last season was a glittering one for Ellis.
She won the Central Scotland Open Championship; the Ayrshire and Galloway Open Championship; the European Open Championship; the United Kingdom Open Championship; the Scotdance Canada Open Championship; the North East Scotland Championship; the City of Glasgow Open Championship and the British Open Championship.
And that’s not all, add to that the City of Inverness Open Championship; the Commonwealth Open Championship; the Royal Burgh of Forfar Open Championship; the North of Scotland Championship; the Granite City Open Championship and the Junior World Open Championship.
Ellis said: “I’m looking forward to travelling to Australia and South Africa with my dance teacher and competing in these brilliant places.”
Angus Rex fro the Galloway Associaiton of Glasgow said: “ During 2015, the Galloway Association of Glasgow was delighted to provide Ellis Hayes with financial assistance to participate in Highland Dancing Championships in Australia. Ellis is both a great dancer and a great ambassador for Highland Dancing, and thoroughly deserves our support to compete at the highest level. The Association is a Scottish Charitable Trust that provides financial awards to young Gallovidians who have exceptional talents which could be developed to a higher level – funding criteria and an Application Form can be found at www.gallowayassoc.org.uk”