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Kay Morris in Memoriam

Kay Robinson 1928-2023

Kay was born Catherine Morris on 10th May 1928 and was brought up in Nottingham. She began skating as a child and had passed her Bronze figures and free tests by the time she was eleven; her focus moved to ice dance from then on, passing her Gold ice dance test in 1953. Having joined the NSA in 1941, Kay maintained continuous membership for 82 years.

The war years intervened, but afterwards Kay began an ice dancing partnership with fellow Nottingham skater Michael Robinson, a partnership that proved successful from the beginning. In one of their earliest competitions, the 1949 Northern and Midland Regional Ice Dance Championships, they took 3rd place, and in 1951 they finished 3rd in the British Ice Dance Championships held at their home rink in Nottingham.

Throughout the 1950s they continued to compete. In April 1953 they took 2nd place at the Northern and Midland Regional Ice Dance Championships in Liverpool, and the following year finished as Champions. They also won the prestigious Manchester Dance Trophy in 1954 and the Tomlinson Trophy in 1958.

1959 European Championship podium at Davos. Left to right: Jean-Paul Guhel & Christiane Guhel (3rd), Courtney Jones & Doreen Denny (1st) , Catherine (Kay) Morris & Michael Robinson (2nd).

As well as training at Nottingham the couple travelled to Queens for further coaching, skating at a time when British ice dance couples reigned supreme in the world. In the British Championships they claimed 3rd place in 1957 and 1959, and 2nd place in 1958 - these placings ensured their selection for Team GB at the World and European Championships. The couple placed 4th at the 1958 Worlds in Paris and won Bronze at the European Championships in 1957. Silver soon followed at Bratislava in 1958, when British skaters took the full podium, and Silver was theirs again the next year in Davos. Kay and Michael continued to compete with success before retiring in 1960.

Following the war there was a shortage of judges and the rules were amended for a time to allow competing skaters to join the judging panels, even if they were still taking tests themselves. Kay took advantage of this and had already joined the 3rd Class Panel in 1950. By the time she passed her own 1st Class Ice Dance Test, Kay was already on the 2nd Class ice dance panel of judges. When Kay retired from competitive skating she had already been elevated to the 1st Class Panel and was able to seamlessly make the move into judging and administration.

As a judge Kay was renowned for being both fair and knowledgeable, and it was not long before she was appointed as an ISU international competition judge, moving up to International Championships in 1966. Kay was also very much involved with the organisation of the 1989 European Championships, where she ran the admin office and the 1995 World Championships, both in Birmingham. She also worked as a mentor to many and encouraged skaters and officials alike, and was often at the Nottingham rink giving her advice and suggestions to aspiring ice dancers. As she had also been British Team Leader at international events for many years she had many an interesting tale to tell that kept us well entertained!

Kay, late in her judging career, was to play a major role in another discipline in the UK. Courtney Jones had been in Canada when he saw a Canadian Precision Team skate and, impressed by their speed and skill, saw a future for the discipline in the UK. He asked Kay if she would travel to Canada and gather as much knowledge as she could on the discipline. This would prove to be most important for the development of British skating as when she returned from her fact finding trip, she enlisted the help of Jenni Mudge, who had already formed a team at Lee Valley, and together they toured the country giving talks and demonstrations, culminating in a demonstration at the 1989 Skate Electric International at Richmond.

With their help and encouragement, coaches began to see the value of Precision Team Skating for their skaters. By 1991 the NSA had formed a Precision Committee, with Courtney, Jenni and Kay as guiding members and in 1992 the first British Championship was held and Kay had become one of this country’s first Precision Judges. The ISU then made a name change to Synchronized Skating and the rest, as they say, is history - but without Kay, Courtney and Jenni there would not have been any domestic Synchro competition as early. Kay was particularly proud to see the success of Synchro in her home city of Nottingham.

After retirement, Kay also became involved with helping Michael in his family business. Colston remained her home for nearly 50 years, before she downsized and moved to the village of Cropwell Butler. Kay was always very elegantly dressed, kind, and caring, who, in skating, was involved as a skater, referee, judge, both national and international, National Team Leader, committee member, mentor, advisor, innovator and good friend to many over eight decades.

Kay Robinson died on April 22nd aged 94. She is survived by her son Alistair and is lovingly remembered by her nieces, Isabel and Cathy.

Funeral Arrangements to be advised.

Elaine Hooper

British Ice Skating Historian

April 2023


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