by WYNNE LOVE | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Occasionally you meet a visionary who is following his dream, or sharing her passion. In this case, you’ll meet two. Introducing Francine and Billy Garton, locals to 92130 since 2001, and powerhouses in their respective fields.

Raised in Liverpool, England, Francine was a dancer from a young age, earning a scholarship to a prestigious ballet school in London, and finishing her studies in Manchester. She danced professionally for two years before opening her own dance studio in Manchester, and when she and Billy moved to the States in 2001, she knew she would continue to teach.

“I intended to wait a year or so to look for studio space when we originally arrived here in San Diego,” explained Francine, “but by chance found a perfect space within four weeks of arriving.” The Royal Dance Academy was born and has grown steadily since, expanding three times, and continually adding new curricula, including Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Examinations, the LAMDA acting program, and opportunities for students to compete nationally and audition with talent scouts from L.A.

“I am always looking to re-invent my studio and keep the ‘edge’ that has us at the forefront of dance education,” said Francine. Now RDA occupies a brand new 6,000 square-foot facility and is home to over 750 students.

“I love to teach and I love my students,” shared Francine. But she isn’t the only one in the family who loves what she does.

Billy Garton’s passion is soccer. A native of Manchester, England, he played professionally for Manchester United for eight years and then coached before moving to the States with a new vision: the Manchester Soccer Club.

“I love seeing young players get bitten by the soccer bug and get seriously committed to the sport,” said Billy. With his guidance, the MSC, a youth soccer league, has grown from four teams to 38, and now employs 17 professional coaches with players who compete at the state and national levels. “I have been very lucky in my life,” said Billy. “I was paid to play soccer, a wonderful thing, now I get paid to coach soccer, a dream job.”

When they’re not getting your kids fired up, Billy and Francine pour their energies into their own four children. They love to exercise, travel, golf, read, and, of course, pour their heart and soul into their students.