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Stress warning as ‘second mum’ to Angus youngsters receives town’s top honour

Fiona Forbes and Elliot Thorne.
Fiona Forbes and Elliot Thorne.

Snowballing stress is having a “huge” impact on young people, according to a long-serving dance teacher and freshly chosen Carnoustie citizen of the year.

Fiona Forbes, 56, founder of the Angus Centre for Performing Arts, received the top honour on October 25 during a ceremony in the Legion Hall in Dundee Street, Carnoustie.

Hailed as a “second mum” to generations of dancers in the Angus town, Fiona said her role in the dance school has changed through the years and she is now providing as much support to young people as dancing expertise.

Left to right is Paul Grant (chairman Mackay’s), Fiona Forbes, Arliss Rhind (chairman Carnoustie Community Council), Elliot Thorne and Dr David Rorie (vice-chairman Carnoustie Community Council).

She said: “I just see the pressures that are on the kids now. They’re huge. When it comes to exams they are hugely stressed and there’s a huge fear of failing, which I hate to hear.

“Between that and social media. Kids today deal with so much more than I ever did, or even my own girls when they were younger.

“I think it’s snowballing. I just want to keep on supporting them as much as I can and making sure there’s a space for them to come to.”

She said dance helps young people in a number of ways.

“It makes them more disciplined and good at juggling time. It gives them an escape from other things that are going on and keeps them busy. I think the more young people are involved in things, the better.”

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Fiona, who has been teaching dance in the town for 24 years, said she was “overwhelmed and a bit embarrassed” to receive the citizen of the year honour.

“I just think of it as doing my job. I had a little bubble when I found out, as I do.”

Fiona initially planned to pause her career in dance when she moved to Carnoustie but she found it too difficult to turn her back on her passion and a handful of local classes ultimately grew into a centre with 420 students, including working with her daughters Eilidh and Beth, teaching everything from ballet to tap.

Community council chairman Arliss Rhind, which organises the annual citizen of the year ceremony, said: “hundreds if not thousands of young people” in the Angus town had benefited from Fiona’s “dedication and love.”

“She is regarded as a second mum by all of them,” he added.

The young citizen award was awarded to nine-year-old schoolboy Elliot Thorne, who climbed Ben Nevis accompanied by him mum Kim to raise funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

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