10 months ago
By David Rowland
Full Account Of A Busy Year By Geoff Carson
We started this year recognising it as a very special anniversary year for the team. Our goal was to celebrate 50 yrs continuous dancing of the Morris team of Leyland which was to be arranged, after discussion to be on the specific day that the team danced out in 1967. Before any thoughts could be given to this we had other bookings on the more immediate horizon.
October 15th was the 60th birthday party of the Leyland Folk Dance Club, celebrated with a dance in Leyland at the Methodist Centre in Turpin Green. We danced two spots, one of our Cotswold dances, and finished with Flamboro and Leyland Street Dance. Our dancing was well received and we had a letter of thanks from the chairman Mike Granell.
This was followed by a further visit to the ADA group at Knowle Green. A very challenging session with some people determined to spoil the evening by deliberately disrupting the dances part way through. Most of the regulars enjoyed the visit nevertheless.
Practices continued and thanks to David Thomson for covering for me when I was poorly with toothache. Thanks to Sam Bailey (Mikes grandson) who joined us for the evening who played his guitar with the musicians and danced Tinner's Rabbit, hope to see him again sometime. Preparations continued at practice for the first event in November, Derian House Winter Sparkle. A good crowd once again. Later in the month we danced at the Little Sisters in Fulwood as our support for Lancashire Day. He main room is very big, so plenty of space for dancing. There were about 12+ in the audience and our singing and dancing session was very much appreciated refreshments too.
It was an eventful December this year having to find and alternative venue for our Christmas meal due to the closure of the Grapes in Croston. An alternative at the Plough, Runshaw lane, Leyland was very successful and enjoyed by all. The following week we danced at the annual Garstang Victorian Fair. Big crowds once again meant fighting our way through to our dancing spot. Again we created our own space, difficult to compete with big lads flaying sticks about. A good night had by all despite the inclement weather if I remember.
After the Christmas and New Year’s recess we commenced practices ready for a return visit to Outram House in Bamber Bridge. Again a very successful session, probably as Roy stated on the sheet better in the afternoon rather than evening.
Mike aimed for us to dance out at least once per month until the summer, as from now on preparations for the 50th would start in earnest. A lot of work had already been in place, by members of the team and committee. This would be ongoing and would gain momentum as the day approached.
February’s practices commenced as we were trying to introduce some of the North West dances back into our programme as Len had suggested at the AGM. Practice was intense as we adapted dances for the normal 8 dancers to 6 dancers, changing certain aspects of each dance. The 2017 programme was beginning to take shape as it usually does. We went to King St, Leyland at end of the month, our usual singing and dancing session, well received by an appreciative audience. We also encouraged the staff to join in. Tea and biscuits were provided for all.
Publicity, dancing spots, poster and handouts were in the process of being prepared for the 50th. Roy was planning the exhibition, scrap books being updated all sorts of work going on behind the scenes.
A cartoon by Bill Tidy surfaced from 30 or more years ago, Peter and Eni had a little girl, and Steve Bonnet was back amongst us again.
By March we started to practice in earnest to try and get the North West dances up to scratch. Some we can adapt others not. Polka steps were proving difficult and tiring (old age creeping up on us). This was taxing the brain cells as well as the knees.
A moment of sadness on March 10th was the announcement from the family that Gill Whittaker had passed away. As Roy stated on the information sheet, an integral part of the team for many years and collector par excellence. He was an important link between the public and the team had greatly missed his presence in recent times. His funeral was well attended by members of the team and I am sure this was very much appreciated by his family.
Practices continued in earnest as the anniversary date approached, but we still had other commitments to fulfil. INTAC community centre at Ingol was our next venue. Here we had a very appreciative audience from the local community and also the staff seemed very willing to join us for a dance. My thanks to the musicians who were on form that day with some carefully selected songs for people to join in with.
Monday practices in at the start of April were hectic both for the dancers and musicians with as many as eight plus dances to get through. More work going on behind the scenes in readiness for our 50th anniversary.
Publicity leaflets at the printers, radio interviews, newspaper articles, dancing spots confirmed. Leyland Cricket Club main room booked with caterers in place. Mike will finalise the guest list and sort out the replies. As soon as we have the publicity leaflets come back from the printers they will need to be distributed all around Leyland and the local area. Roy finalising the exhibition and making arrangements to get the stuff to the Cricket Club, and last but not least, have we got music and dancers for the day.
Finally the last big push to get ready for the 29th April as soon it will be here.
Saturday 29th April finally arrived; if it has not been done then it is too late to worry about it. Dancing in Leyland went well, with many people watching including past members who came to cast their eyes over us to see if standards were as good as when they danced. We had quite a large gathering at St Andrews Church entrance and we did not disappoint. The dancing and music was excellent and very well received. We saw lots of old friends of the team, some whom had always been watching whenever we danced in Leyland.
Later off to the Cricket Club to continue our celebration. My compliments to everyone for a very successful event which did the team proud and I am sure made all team members and families smile knowing that we had kept everything going for 50 yrs. During the afternoon we made a very special presentation to Roy Smith who had danced continuously for 50 years, no mean feat. This was done by the Mayor of South Ribble Borough Council. Special thanks to Barry for the celebration cakes, unfortunately there are too many thank you's to mention all but my compliments to everyone from your Team Leader.
No time to rest, a day off as such the up to Scorton for their Bikes and Barrows festival. There was a notable entrance from Andrew who cycled all the way from Longton, as we gathered at the church. A surprise visit from the BBC filmed our first dancing spot of the day outside the church. Good job he went before we went in the church for the beer. A good day was had by all with many people attending. All in all, it was a very busy but satisfying weekend.
Off again about 10 days later to do a workshop for the cubs at Clifton, part of their entertainments badge I think. Plenty of stick clashing, all went well and no bruised fingers... No rest dancing again 4 days later at Cuerden Valley. Again chose our dancing spot at the entrance and did our own thing. Success again.
There were a couple of weeks off then a request quite out of the ordinary to dance at a ladies 80th birthday party. Somewhat tongue in cheek we went and it turned out to be a great success. The lady was highly delighted with us as were her guests. Notably we were well fed with a lovely catered spread of food.
Unfortunately we had to decline Leyland Festival this year, hope it might be a wakeup call for the community but don’t hold your breathe. A couple of days prior to festival day I took a fall at Croston Cricket and did my ribs in. Out of commission for a few weeks I thought. Roy kindly took over the reins as we had booking for the Beavers workshop at St James which turned out to be shorter than planned and 2 days later Lytham Club Day. Club day was a good session with 10 dancers, 4 musicians from Leyland and a total of 3 teams who gave a good dancing display. A notable comment I believe was “How sharp Leyland are dancing and at being ready to dance and keep the performance flowing”. Thanks to David Smith for joining in the sword dance.
The first week in July was Croston Open Gardens which again was very successful with dancing in probably the most prime spot in the village near the entrance to the church. We danced 3 spots instead of the 2 that were planned. One could say the high spot of the session was when two young lassies said they would love to have a go. So with minimal tuition they did Constant Billy with the team. It was a hard day, so, well done to all. Hans left and was off to cycle from Lands’ end to John O’Groats, glutton for punishment or what.
Things went quiet for a while with some enquiries declined; we needed the break I think. At a very late date we learnt that George Rowe who was not in the best of health, had a fall which resulted him being admitted to hospital, from which he had since passed away. Roy has produced a very informative sheet outlining his contribution to the team and Folk/dancing in general, a good read for all who knew him.
Early August we had an invite to sing and dance at Sherwood Lodge in Fulwood; a venue that we have attended before. A nice sunny day and we were asked to dance in the conservatory, not a lot of room but we could put all our gear outside in the sun. Ready to start and more and more people kept coming in to watch. Squeeze up more so eventually it felt like we were dancing on a postage stamp. Still we managed and didn’t trample on anyone’s toes, and the staff joined in as well. The next 2 bookings had to be cancelled, one through lack of team members and one where the hosts had double booked, so that saw us through till the end of August. Geoff Carson, Team Leader
Updated 19:16 - 7 Feb 2018 by David Rowland