A WOMAN who has brought the joy of dance to thousands and thousands of boys and girls for more than half a century has been awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Miss Dorothy Stevens, whose name has become legendary in ballet circles in Britain and around the world, has been honoured for her unstinting services to teaching dance.

Her love affair with classical ballet, particularly, has spanned almost 70 years, with the indefatigable Miss Stevens taking her first tentative steps at the age of four - to strengthen a weak leg.

Since those early years this much-loved and respected dance mentor has taught students who have gone on to work for leading ballet and dance companies throughout the world.

This week Miss Stevens was overwhelmed and delighted to hear of the award, which follows a nomination, spearheaded by the renowned choreographer David Bintley, a former student.

"He has paid me a wonderful tribute and to receive such an honour from the Queen has given me great joy," she said.

The dance school owner was brought up in Hipperholme and began teaching at Hipperholme Infants' School with five pupils at the age of 18. She went on to achieve many accolades herself as well as propel students into the world's ballet and dance spotlight.

For 17 years she taught dance at St Joseph's College, Bradford, and was awarded an Honorary MA by the University of Bradford in 1985 for her work and achievements with young people both locally and around the world.

Other dancers and soloists tutored by Miss Stevens, include Eric Gibson, John Carney, teacher at the Royal Ballet School and the Northern Ballet School, Marguerite Donelle, soloist with the Berlin Opera Ballet Company as well as numerous dancers in classical companies and commercial theatre.

She has worked for many years as an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance which has taken her to many European countries, including Ireland as well as Canada and has had her own Ballet and Theatre School at Holme House in Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe, for many decades.

Two-and-a-half years ago the remarkable Miss Stevens was involved in a horrific car crash when she suffered chest injuries and then last year underwent heart surgery but she recovered from both of these to continue with her passion for dance.

Miss Stevens said she was thrilled and proud to receive her MBE but said teaching dance had given her great joy.

"I have always been disciplined but my students have always worked with me and given me their all. They have put themselves in my care and I have always taught them to keep their feet on the ground. They, in turn, have been a huge credit," she added.

15 (left) and Zoe Stephen-son, 13, at her Lightcliffe dance school