William (Bill) Irvine was born at Low Craigends in Kilsyth on 30th Jan 1926, and died on February 13th 2008. He was from a mining family, and attended Kilsyth academy. Taking up dancing after military service, Bill passed his first Associate exam on 12th December 1948 in Glasgow. Following a move to South Africa, where he met his future wife, Bobbie, the couple returned to the UK in 1959 to take up competitive dancing.
The couple were invited to dance for the UK in Berlin at the 1960 World Championships.
They won the competition, and remained in the UK ever since.
Following the retiral of Harry Smith Hampshire and Doreen Casey in 1961, their great dancing rivals were Peter Eggleton and Brenda Winslade. This has been described as the golden age of British professional ballroom dancing, reaching standards of technical and artistic brilliance which have seldom, if ever, been surpassed.
Between 1960 and 1968, the Irvines won 13 world titles. In 1966, they won both the Standard and Latin American Championships — a feat unequalled before or since. The 1968 World Championships were held at the Albert Hall in London. The Irvines won both the Ballroom and Latin American world titles - setting a Guinness Book Record.
In 1967, Bill and Bobbie Irvine were jointly awarded the MBE for services to dancing. This was the first time Ballroom Dance had been recognised in the Queen's Honours list.
Bill moved on to take a senior administrative role in dancing, becoming a dual examiner and Member, and later Chair of the Ballroom Branch Committee (now the Modern Ballroom Faculty Committee). He held this post until 1992. He was also Chairman of the Ballroom Faculties Board.
He retired as chairman of the British Open adjudicators in June 2001, after 23 years service.
Bill was proud of his Kilsyth roots and keeps in regular contact with his brother who lives at John Wilson place. He held the singular honour of having a street in Kilsyth named after him.
Bobbie died in 2004, and Bill joined her in the great dance hall in the sky in early 2008.
Their autobiography is published in "The Dancing Years" W.H. Allen, London 1970, B&B Irvine, - a reference copy is in the Kilsyth Library.