AFTER 35 successful years running her own dance studio, Isle of Wight household name and professional dance teacher, Gillian Cartwright-Voysey, has decided to hang up her ballet shoes.

Former student of Gillian's, Joel Morris ­— who has taught at the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Academy of Dance in London ­— has purchased the hall and will be taking up the reins.

"I feel the school is in safe hands," said Gillian.

"Joel is a professional ballet and musical theatre dancer with more than 20 years' experience ­— a successor that can continue the school's success.

"I came to the Island with the aim of raising the standard, and over the years we've had wonderful success for such a small area.

"It's great to see all the local talent blossoming. I feel we've really put the Isle of Wight on the map for dance.

"Many of our students are now performing in West End theatres, and with major ballet companies all over the world, singing and dancing on cruise ships, and even running their own dance schools."

Gillian was born in London, and trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Arts Educational School, before enjoying a successful career dancing professionally and performing across the globe.

In 1983, she retired from dancing and moved to the Isle of Wight, establishing her own school in Shanklin ­— the Gillian Cartwright School of Dance.

The school has since flourished, winning numerous mainland festival awards and winning the prestigious All England Dance Festival group in London.

"I've been involved in dance all my life," said Gillian, mentor and life member of the Royal Academy of Dance since 2010.

"It's been amazing, but after working seven days a week, I'm going to have to learn how to not work.

"It will be nice to spend more time with my husband, Peter, and hopefully travel."

Joel, who is celebrating 20 years since signing his first professional contract, said: "It's the biggest honour in the world.

"I'm very excited to come home after so long. Gillian gave me my life.

"She's world class and I've been very lucky to learn from her ­— and now she's given me my second life.

"It's funny, because we used to joke when I was little ­— about me going to London and eventually coming home to run the school ­— and it's actually happened.

"I plan to bring all my years of experience — I've taught in all the top London schools, and I know what the directors are looking for.

"I'll continue to run the school in the same vein as Gillian ­— a place of passion, high standards, and most of all ­— fun."

Gillian will take up a new role — as guest teacher.