A FORMER Chester resident who retired to the Isle of Arran received an MBE in the New Year Honours for services to Scottish Country Dancing.

Rachel Barnetson Phillips (nee Rhodes), who retired to the village of Sannox in 1998, previously lived in Chester with her family for nearly 40 years.

A life member of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Rachel has been dancing since the age of nine.

She was away visiting her family in Perth, Australia, when news came through that she had received the award.

Rachel told her local newspaper: “To be awoken at midnight in Australia for an urgent phone call from the Cabinet Office had to be my son playing a practical joke from the UK.

‘It took some convincing by the caller that it was not, as I thought ‘why me?’. It was a huge and complete surprise and with so many others more deserving. I am most indebted to whomever suggested the award.”

Rachel took her teaching certificates at St Andrew’s summer schools in the 1950s and has taught voluntarily since, initially in Barrow-in-Furness, Manchester and Swansea and then for 40 years at Chester St Andrew’s Society.

In Chester she took all stage classes – beginners, improvers and demonstration teams – which took part in Scottish Country Dance Festivals and UK competitions and performed internationally in Auxerre, France.

For 30 years, Rachel led the team organising biennial day courses in Chester which attracted dancers from across the north, Midlands and North Wales.