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Dancing for 95 years

Members and guests celebrated Watford Folk Dance Group’s 95th Anniversary recently with an informal party dance evening. Usually a visiting caller will run a club evening but, with several regular callers present, their names were put into a (Morris) hat and drawn out as the evening progressed. The dancers enjoyed a varied programme with the callers’ choices of dances ranging in style from Playford to Contra.

Members all brought contributions for the refreshment break and two food laden tables were moved into the centre of the hall. The break culminated in a gathering around a very special celebration cake. Two of the group’s previous leaders, Joan Franklin and Ivan MacKenzie were remembered at this point in the evening. Both of them had joined in the 1940s, Joan had led the group from 1963 to 1971 and Ivan had succeeded her from then until 2006. Together they had cut the cake for the 90th Anniversary in 2012; sadly, as reported in Issue 68 of Puddingstone, they had died within a week of each other last December.

Joan’s god daughter Sarah had made a donation in Joan’s memory suggesting that some of this was used for a beautiful cake. Cake maker Ian Nicholls (of A Slice of Cake) piped on some dancing figures and incorporated sweet peas and daisies, Joan’s Birthday flowers, into the design for the cake. Sweet peas were particularly apposite, indicating pleasure – Joan and members enjoyed great pleasure over the years dancing in the group. On this occasion, the cake was cut by Ivy and Ray Webster who have been dancing with the group for some 40 years.

Photo by Malcolm Beak
Ivan’s widow Edna had brought along some of his mementos. Whilst the cake was being sliced, their daughter Jeannie read out some of Ivan’s memories of dancing with the Watford group: members had gone out and about to display dances in various festivities and enjoyed Saturday dances as well as attending the weekly Monday dance sessions.

The dancing finished with ‘Never Love Thee More’, introduced as the customary last dance for a party by Watford’s first permanent leader, Miss Lena Stone. But that was not quite the end of the evening. Chairman Eileen was given a card signed by members to mark a forthcoming ‘significant birthday’ and her scrummy chocolate cake was then cut for people to take and enjoy at home.