Founder of inclusive dance school, Magpie Dance earns lifetime achievement award
PUBLISHED: 15:02 14 September 2017
Avril Hitman was handed the honour at the National Diversity Awards
After more than three decades of teaching children with learning difficulties to dance, a Chislehurst woman has received a lifetime achievement award.
Avril Hitman is the founding artistic director of Magpie Dance, which runs more than 350 sessions for over 300 people aged eight and above.
The dance company’s size now is a far cry from the once-a-week sessions Mrs Hitman was running in 1985, when she first came up with the idea to set up the charity which focuses its dancers around participation, performance and training.
At the start of the year, the 63-year-old received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.
Praise continues to come the artistic director’s way after she was presented with the lifetime achievers award at the National Diversity Awards on September 8, beating competition from seven other entrants.
A spokesperson from the awards said: “After decades of supporting thousands of people with learning disabilities though the art of dance, Avril Hitman received the award.
“A list of tremendous achievements were recognised by judges, including Avril’s determination to challenge perceptions surrounding disability and impacting on the wider world of dance, health and education.”
The award-winner, who retired from her role in September, said: “I’m honoured and delighted to have received this prestigious award for my work with Magpie Dance over the last 32 years.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted and has supported me over many years. The National Diversity Awards highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in society and I’m very proud to be the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achiever Award”
Scissor Sisters singer Ana Matronic hosted the awards ceremony with TV presenter Brian Dowling at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.