This is a list of the members past and present of the Wakefield team. It starts around 1982 so there is a great chunk of the early history missing. But any one who can fill in some gaps or update any of the information they find here is welcome to do so by contacting the the site editor.at
We cannot put surnames to some dancers from the early years. So if anyone can supply some information on the following we'd love to hear from you.
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Liz Harwood When Liz first appeared she rather amazed folk by coping with a degree course at Sheffield, archaeology since you ask, doing night classes in car maintenance and being a mum to Tim and Sam. With the passing years Liz hitched up with Arthur and became a mum again to Dan and Niall. Add to this the long time role as team treasurer for Wakefield and founding member of the Rhubarb Tarts and you have one busy lady.
In 2015 Liz headed home to Hampshire (how very alliterative) to keep an eye on aged parents. Having landed Liz and Arthur took to market gardening in a small way or so I gather. More to the point Liz decided that what she needed was a burst of NW Morris and has now taken up with Knockhundred Shuttles. Possibly a switch to floral produce in the garden will find a ready outlet if Knockhundred men are still sporting the extravagent headgear
Pete Haslam One of the founding members who seems to have drifted away within the first year or so. Did occasionally resurface in the early 80's but usually suffering some sort of injury, which was often horse related if my memory serves me well.
Simon Hewitt In early team photos a small lad appears who people reckon to be Simon. By this point he may be a dad or even a grandad. Anyone able to help here?
Pete Heigham A former member of Pomfret Morris, Pete made the major leap from Cotswold to North West joining Chris Stevens another Pomfret refugee. However the nomadic life of a contracting IT specialist has rather limited Pete’s appearances with the team.
Rowena Herbert If memory serves Rowena was a dancer with Hong Kong Morris who had moved to Yorkshire. With a high powered job in Leeds she somehow fitted in dancing with Wakefield, although only for one or two seasons as I recall. Most memorable item? A garden party with Wakefields finest mingling with the power brokers.
Liz Higgs Liz arrived one evening and showed a decidedly knowledgeable approach to NW Morris. This was soon explained when she owned up to having been with Hertfordshire Holly for several years. By design or accident the move north soon led to a relationship with Trefor (Owen), which lasted for several years.
Liz was, as many dancers are, a teacher, maybe dancers are just big kids in the eyes of the teaching profession. One memorable afternoon out was spent at the Park Special school, which was captured on video. See the video listing pages for details. When last heard of Liz was living in North Yorkshire and heavily involved in bat preservation and protection. And after a chance meeting with Katie a stalwart steward at Warwick FF 2014, comes news that Liz is planning on moving back to Suffolk. As Katie put it "I thought I'd catch up with Liz whilst she was still somewhere reachable, as after all Suffolk is just the middle of nowhere".
Pete Holland Another name associated with the first years of the team who seems to have vanished from the memory of the survivors. Any information welcomed.
Gilly Hooley. OK we admit it we can't remember Gilly's married name when she was with Paul so we're using her maiden name until we know better. Sister of Gerry (Statham) the two sisters provided the blonde element of the womens line for a few years. Gilly was famously reputed to be able to change into or out of kit using a handkerchief as cover and still retain her modesty! Seems that the sisters had a husband pair that worked since Paul was a mechanic with an interest in cooking whilst Gerrys then husband Howard was a chef with and interest in car mechanics.
Last sighting of Gill was with Gerry at a "Mighty Doonan's" Concert in Wakefield cathedral on St Andrews Day 2013. Sadly the reason Gill was in town with Gerry was because their dad, Bill, had died the previous day. Bill was a great character as all who knew him would agree.
Joe Hooper Joe arrived with Josh Greaves and announced that they wanted to play in the band. When it was realised that Joe’s instrument of choice was a banjo he still got to play in the band! A beer with Joe and Josh was always a pleasure and the departure of the lad’s to university was a bit of a blow. Mind you they should have finished university by now, wonder what they’re doing?
Ask and ye shall receive is the word. Ruth Flint brings word (2014) that Joe is still to be found around the Leeds area doing the heroic thing of taking a banjo to a session! He has now completed his degree course and is engaged in in what was described as “cutting edge work in medical computing” whilst working towards an MA, or was that a PHD? Another question there waiting for an answer. OK I'm pretty sure it was a PHD.
Anne Hudson Anne Wilson when she started dancing with the team. Anne was a single mum with thw two girls Catherine and Jennifer to bring up as well as holding down a job and running a home - OK women I know that's what all women do but as a bloke I still find it amazing. Somewhere in there Anne found time to do a teaching degree at the now defunct Bretton Hall College. She also found Malcolm and persuaded him that Morris dancing might be fun. Obviously other things were also fun since the two became husband and wife. Long time squire of the side Anne is now (as of 2012) retired from the Wakefield team. However she still dances out with the Rhubarb Tarts whilst being a grandma to little Mary who with mum Katherine is becoming a dancer. Talk about it being a family thing!
Malcom Hudson Malcom was lured into the team by the seductive siren call of a woman. This put the lie to the team’s men who had maintained that the imbalance of women to men in the side was down to their dashing good looks and “it’s about time you women stirred yourselves up a bit”. For reasons best known to Malc his favoured spot is number 8 in the set. This means that viewed head on Malc is usually hidden behind any dancer taller than him, which is to say most of the men and some of the women. But as the saying goes “size isn’t everything” and the energy output and good humour spread easily. Malc is currently working on his mandolin skills and also dancing with the Rhubarb Tarts. And in 2013 the Wakefield side saw Malc's last appearance as a NW dancer though he plans to continue showing up witha mandolin to swell the growing regiment of musicians.
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Pat Johnson or Senior or even WilbyAh the delightful Pat a ray of sunshine with a voice like an angel. That voice most notably for me deployed when the team were on a trip to Devon dancing with Great Western. Come the Saturday night we needed a “turn” and based on hearing her sing we came up with pushing Pat out to do something from her repertoire of Janis Ian or Barbara Dixon numbers. In a noisy and crowded barn of a place Pat sat down to play and about three bars in you could have heard a pin drop as the massed ranks fell under the spell of that sweet voice.
Pat was with us for a few years and photo records of a trip to Germany show her being whirled round in a curious dance favoured by our hosts which involved two blokes swinging their partners round like a chair-o-plane ride. On another occasion at Warwick Festival one of the team offspring suggested a midnight stargazing session to view the Leonides meteor shower (is that right Toby?). So we all sat gazing heaven ward with rapt wonder at shooting stars. Eventually Pat reckoned she had found a really good shooting star, only for big George to point out it was probably the 23:59 flight into Coventry airport.
Eventually Pat met up with Ian and settled into married life. Now a mum with two lads she has been seen over the years in Wakefield libraries and most recently was reported to be back singing at the New Inn Walton on their acoustic nights. So let’s hope for more sights and sounds from Pat. Chris Walker tells me that Pat came up to say hullo when the team danced out in Wakefield in December 2016 and was "As bonny as ever".
Dave Johnson One time team leader in the early years Dave was a music teacher at a local school. At one point Trefor Owen decided that if his dicta that musicians must dance in order to play for the Morris, then the obverse was true. Or put shortly dancers must learn to play an instrument to fully appreciate the finer points of the musician’s art. Whether this led to Dave deciding to focus on non dance related work or not I cannot say. Like the dew on the meadow he kind of drifted away. Needless to say the team never really took to the idea of the massed band. After all with Tony bacon and later Chris Walker behind the squeeze box why confuse things. Sometimes small is just perfect.
Dave was last seen at Christmas 2012 up at Thornhill where he was leading an enthusiastic choir in the singing of carols. That much practice in the weeks prior to Christmas had been needed and was based in the pub next to the church was no doubt a minor incentive. Apparently this tradition had started when Dave’s wife Jill was the incumbent at that very church.
So strolling down Horbury High Street in June 2014 and there's Dave looking relaxed and happy. Now "time rich" Dave is plying the musical interests and getting in what he calls a 25 hour day. Jill still working for the diocese and happy to keep up the good work. The grandchildren count up to four so far though with the farthest away being in Derbyshire Dave has a few miles to go to catch up with some of us. Babs Quin is possibly a contender for the greatest separation by distance there is to date.
Jill Johnson One of the women dancers in the early years. Forsook the dance and later took holy orders.
Aizlyn Johnston With us for a few years Aizlyn was a dedicated dancer with a sideline in pastry. If you were eating at Betty’s then Aizlyn may have had a hand in the cakes you consumed. Also a Irish set dancer Aizlyn eventually succumbed to injury and left the pounding of the pavements and car parks behind her.
Julie Jowett Julie joined the team to extend her dance experience beyond the ballroom she was used to. Over the years Julie has contributed a great deal in her own quiet way. For a non-driver it takes extra effort to sort out getting around to practice and performances and Julie does this without fuss or bother. A possibly little known fact is that Julie’s relaxation and hobby is French polishing so if you have a furniture item in need of revival you know who to call.
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Marion Keeping - In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Steve and Cilla Kennedy Only when reviewing some video from a Great Western Whit weekend tour back in 1986; handed to me by a Great Western bod at Sidmouth 2010, did I spot the tall bloke I recognised as Steve Kennedy. Or at least I think that's the right name so until I'm corrected I'll call him Steve. Steve came along from Huddersfield, with wife Cilla, having been encouraged to take up the idea of traditional dance by Alan Lindsey. Obviously Steve liked the idea and made the trip to Exeter in 1986. I'm not too sure about ever seeing Cilla dance out but after an all to short time with the team Steve announced he was off to New Zealand where his skills as a wool grader would be much valued.
After a year or so Steve reappeared and seemed keen to get back into the team and enjoy the benefits of healthy excercise and a lively social life. However before he could re-establish himself his knees went into a condition which I believe the medical profession call "knackered". Following surgery Steve walked back into the hall one night with bionic knees which he said would do him good service for walking but were not up to the rigours of NW Morris Wakefield style. So another loss to the team, must ask Alan if he knows any more on the Steve front. Assuming I can catch up with Alan at some point.
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Dave Lacy Musician and gentleman Dave turns out now and again to deploy his squeeze box skills. Most often to be seen at the Boxing Day dance outs on Heath Common. When not supporting traditional dance Dave can usually be found in a brown dust coast keeping the shop open at his hardware store in Normanton. As well as a squeeze box player Dave is also a better than average guitarist and vocalist. Dave can been seen discussing tunings and strings with fellow guitarists in the "Ramshackle Ceildh Band" whilst Elaine tries to explain what a square set is to the geometrically challenged.
Rebbecca Limb When Rebecca joined the side we figured we had cracked it as a shy but quietly confident young lass quickly learnt the dances needed for performance standard. Only when we got to the Rochester Sweeps Festival did we realise that Rebecca was in fact just 15 years old! No one had ever thought to ask and Rebecca never thought to tell us. So we had an interesting weekend fending off the advances of sundry males since Rebecca was an extremely attractive young woman.
Returning to Wakefield we rapidly sought out Rebecca’s dad, Alan, and explained the situation. We did not want to lose a talented young dancer and if we did the average age of the side would shoot up again. So on the next away trip to Cleethorpes for the folk festival we had the company of Rebecca and her dad. Sadly that was the only season we had Rebecca as a team member. However meeting up with Alan in his guise of session singer down at Boons End we learnt that with the passing years Rebecca had qualified as an accountant and was working in Leeds. If I recall correctly the last I heard was that she had become a mum but since then neither Rebecca nor Alan have been heard of.
Alan Lindsay The quintessential Yorkshire man. Living out on the borderlands around Slaithwaite Alan regarded the Wars of the Roses as being in suspension rather than over. Tales of his times with the team are many and varied. One year at Whitby Folk Festival Alan was in conversation with Quiton from Great Western Morris. To say that Quinton was as broad Devon as Alan was broad Yorkshire would be an understatement. Only the good offices of Ken Martin sat between them and acting as interpreter enabled to conversation to continue.
On a trip over the hill to Saddleworth Alan was less than enthusiastic “No good will come of this” was his general opinion. We had been invited over to take part in the rushbearing, which was an all-male event. In fact that year the Saddle worth men had endeared themselves to the TV viewers in a programme on the team in which they had made it clear that in their view women had no place in the world of the Morris. As it turned out we could only get a mens side out for the Sunday, and just to add to the challenge the womens side had an invite to Oakwell Hall for the same Sunday and we had just the one musician, Tony Bacon. So after some discussion and a free and frank exchange of views the women settled(?) for taking a tape player and extension lead to Oakwell while the men would take Tony to Upper Mill
The Sunday dawned wet and cold and Alan reminded us that “No good will come of this”. Waiting at the foot of the hill we found out that the first event of the day was to drag the cart up to the church. The pullers being the dancers and some loose talk of record times soon set some of us feeling that we might have been better off in Yorkshire. Meanwhile Alan was explaining that “This is what they do for fun in Lancashire”. Having arrived wet and bedraggled at the church we found the next event was a church service, which had zero appeal to us. So we sheltered in the pub door way until the landlord eventually opened up. The church service over we asked Trefor what was happening as the rain beat down on the car park. “Dancing of course, it’s in alphabetical order” came the reply.
After some discussion the chaps decided that they could not get much wetter and Tony was happy to play provided someone held a brolly over the box. So out we went and did the standard display of Gisburn, Original and whatever came next. “What next” asked Trefor, “You can do what you like we’re off to Yorkshire” came the reply form the lads. So we set off back to Yorkshire and as we passed the white rose welcome signs we looked out at a sun kissed vista of God’s Own County. “Told you we should never have gone over the hill,” said Alan. We’d decide that we would catch up with the women at Oakwell and as we parked the cars and walked up the lane the lasses rushed towards us with open arms. Sadly they then shot past the men and grabbed Tony “That damned extension lead is not long enough and we on to dance five minutes ago” they explained. Only after a lot of grovelling were the chaps allowed to dance that day.
Mind you Alan’s greatest achievement was as team treasurer. When he took over the team’s coffers where just about empty. When he stood down we had a healthy current account balance and money on deposit, a true Yorkshire man or what? The move away from dancing was down to a move into farming which all being well still fills Alan’s days. Occasionally popping up to offer fine lamb or beef to the non vegetarian members of the team Alan still patrols the Yorkshire/Lancashire border out Slaithwaite way.
Ann Lister Gracious and charming Ann was with us for a brief summer. Arriving with Yvonne Culpan the twosome quickly learnt the basic four-dance set needed to dance out. My strongest memory is of a dance out Stanley Ferry way. Two days if I recall rightly, the first had seen dust clouds swirling round the whole area. The second found continuos rain turning the area into a quagmire. Having managed one dance display we retired to the pub to dry out and warm up. After a while we decided that a blast on the pub car park would mark the end of our day and we’d then head home. Out we went and into the display, only for both Ann and Yvonne to pull out of the set with strains and pains. The moral of “Always warm up before EVERY dance set” was still being preached many years after.
Ann left us to become a marketing and promotions representative for Clarks Brewery if I recall correctly. If my recall is not right then I welcome any corrections on offer. Beer Cart 2014 update. Ann is now "time rich" and hating it apparently. Watching the dancing Ann said it "still set her feet tapping" and given a chance I'm sure she could still turn an elegant set of heels to the music.
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Chas Marshall Chas was a member of Ripon City dancers back in the day. Chas and Trefor Owen were both into research into dance history and so it was only natural that there was close contact between the two teams. Another factor in this arrangement was that Chas’s then wife Sue was a member of “Betty Luptons Ladle Laikers” and more to the point a dance organizer for Whitby Folk Festival. This all meant that right from the off the team got invites to Whitby Folk Week and also the services of a more that capable concertina player on many dance outs.
The research line led Chas and others of Ripon City to the neglected plough stotts tradition of Yorkshire. This eventually came to fruition in the Flag and Bone Gang.. It came as no surprise to find that one of its founding (?) members was Trefor Owen! .
Aileen Martin To the team “Auntie Aileen”, to Ken the loving wife who tended him through good times and bad right to the end. Aileen had and possibly still has a magic handbag from which would come pins, pills, plasters and almost anything that was required in moments of stress. It sometimes seemed that if the second flood hit the team Aileen would produce from that handbag if not the Ark at least the working drawings for one. After one strenuous dance out Ken was complaining that his bad knee was really playing up even though he had his support on. Aileen from the comfort of her chair assessed the problem and commented “That’s because you’ve got the bandage on the wrong leg”. After that Ken took to wearing two supports but generally checked with Aileen for safety’s sake.
Aileen was also the custodian of the team scrap books and photo albums. And the archive buried away in the back rooms of the Methodist Hall in Horbury are a testament to her dedication. And then there’s the Christmas cake produced at each Boxing Day dance out and the recipe for which is now spread around many team members. Some of us keep in touch and whilst it’s a challenge Aileen still turns out to watch the team occasionally. A very special lady.
Ken Martin What can we say about Ken? Founder member and an original Shrogy, Ken was a main stay of the side. The original Shrogy and Belle logo was Ken's handiwork and his discussions on art with Corrine the stuff of legend. The wearing of shorts in all weathers became a trade mark when Ken became a postie, his taste in shirts and waistcoats never less than striking, will always be remembered. Ken died on the 30th November 2008 having lost the fight with kidney cancer. But in the last year of his life when he'd won the battle for the treatment he needed he still put on the kit and danced with the side in Morley and Whitby. So whenever we dance some of us will always see or hear the little fella somewhere in the set, a lad who had a spirit bigger than anyone else I've ever known.
By 2016 almost none of the side Ken danced with are active dancers, at least not with Wakefield, so that last sentence is less than true I suppose. But whenever any of the "old" side get together it's not long before Ken's name comes up.
Becky Massen Daughter of Sheryl, see below. For Becky herself see “Becky Taylor” - since she married Chris!
Sheryl Massen When we first met Sheryl she was dancing with “Barley Break” the women NW side out Grimsby way. Lively and energetic the ladies had one drawback as far Wakefield were concerned and that was their repertoire. Due to Trefor Owens zeal to spread the word about the way he saw the NW dance being done he had run several workshops for Barley Break. This meant that if we met the ladies as we often did at the Cleethorpes Folk Festival there could be an embarrassment of clashing dance items. Particularly if Barley Break were performing a notionally Wakefield dance with that little bit of extra magic!
If my information is correct Barley Break eventually wound down to the point that little or no dancing was being done. Finding that daughter Becky had joined Wakefield and not been eaten or ostracized Sheryl took the long trip from the wilds of the far eastern extremes of Lincolnshire and started coming to Wakefield practice nights. And now can be found dancing out with the side.
Sarah Matthews Sarah can rightly be called a daughter of the Morris. For full details of the family involvement in traditional dance see the Autumn 2007 edition of the The Morris Federation Newsletter on the web. We first met Sarah as a teenager when she was part of the Fylde Coast weekend we attended. After college Sarah moved back to Yorkshire and started dancing with Wakefield. In her time with the team she has been the squire for a couple of years though now she has become a mum to her and John Earnshaw’s son Ruben, she concentrates on being a dancer.
Sue Mawby Our very own white witch or at least that was the view many of us took on learning that Sue was a pagan. Sue resisted all enquiries as to the nature of the pagan rituals, many inspired by dubious male fantasies of arising from bad “B” movies. Hostess to some great parties when she lived in Wrenthorpe with her then husband Ralph Sue was a mainstay of the team for many years. A founding member of the Rhubarb Tarts s Sue moved on in her life and now lives in the border lands to the North with her new husband Mark. Meeting Sue at Warwick FF 2014 I got a big thank you for prviding her neighbours up in the Borders with background to Sue's life via this web site - Happy to help there then. Sue and Mark are hoping to move south if possible to get a better workshop for Marks instrument making skills. Personally I suspect it may have something to do with nosey neighbours or the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence which could put the Borders back into conditions not seen since the 16th Century!
Corinne Miller If not a founding member of the side then a very long serving one Corinne was cultural heart of the arguments with Ken Martin about the value of modern art. This was mainly down to the fact that Corinne was working at Wakefield Art gallery when she joined the team. Before long she had moved onward and upwards to the Leeds Gallery and was married to Roger (Stevenson). Becoming mum to Katie and then Kerry did not stop Corinne being out and about with the team. When she and Roger separated Corinne still pressed on with her career and family and even after moving onward and upward again this time to the Wolverhampton Art gallery Corinne still found time to turn out with Wakefield occasionally.
Over the years the team enjoyed some great parties with Corrine at her homes in the area. Given that some of her treasured ceramic pieces are fine works of art it takes a special sort of courage to invite a host of boisterous Morris dancers in for a party. A side benefit of Corinne’s work was her involvement with Temple Newsam house which made it a memorable spot for team visits and dance out over the years. For several years Corinne was the squire and team diplomat smoothing out those niggling personality clashes that sometimes occur. Though our fondest memories are of the often heated debates on art, the look of stunned amazement when confronted by a deep fried Mars bar and her production of a whole catering sized cheese-cake on one team trip to Cumbria. This was the result of a comment from a musician, who will remain nameless, that as squire Corinne ought to provide the pudding for a team meal. After an absence of what seemed like hours Corinne returned with the cake having apparently scoured the town to find the last open catering establishment in town just as it was closing.
Katie Miller Corinne’s daughter. In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Janette Mitchell In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Bill Much In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Sue Murrell In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Tim Murell In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
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Dave Newton Dave was generally known in the linked pairing "Dave and Helen". A local lad Dave had a reluctance to dance anywhere locally in case he was spotted by a mate. At the Horbury Street Fayre one year Dave's mum ambled up to aske where her lad was. On being told of his reluctance to appear where his mate's might see him she offered the opinion that her son was "a big soft article". A back injury incurred in his work as a hydraulic plant mechanic meant that Dave was on light duties. For some time the is viewed with scepticism by some until Derek Bacon training as a sports physio in his retirement offered to work on Dave's back. Some time later Derek commented that he was rather amazed Dave could stand up let alone dance given the state of his spine.
After a year or so Dave (and Helen) drifted away and were last seen at Warwick Folk Festival in the early "noughties" where they had a stall prompoting all things aloe vera retlated. Helen reporting that after years of medical diagnosis that never quite worked the use of the magic aloe had sorted her problems out.
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June O'Brien Small lady with big personality would be a good working description of June. June and her then husband Mick moved in to Horbury one summer and taking in the Street Fayre found the team. Rather than running a mile they both joined and quickly became part of the happy family. A team trip to Ireland was mainly down to the O'Brien's romantic vision of seeing Mick's ancestral roots. Sadly not long after this Mick decided to go his own way and June found herself the only O'Brien in Wakefield Morris
With her usual energy and determination June continued to be a vital spark with the Wakefield side. Then she became a founding member of the Rhubarb Tarts and work wise moved on up the eductational ladder. However a major meeting with breast cancer put a brake on dancing shortly after June had finished work. Thankfully June is in the ranks of the survivors and is back out there enjoying life. June decided that the multiple changes introduced to the Wakefield style in 2011 made it difficult to carry on with the team however she continues to dance with the Rhubarb Tarts. Out on the Heath for Boxing Day 2017 in company with Trefor Owen and splitting her time between Criccieth and Horbury.
Mick O'Brien A showman and natural front man Mick was an asset to the team. With a fine singing voice it was no surprise to find that Mick was the front man of a music grouping made up of his youthful buddies. This led to one of the stories told around the camp fires at night. At one gig Mick was giving it his all when a pair of lacy panties flew from the crowd and came to rest oh his mike stand. With a coolness crafted over years Mick plucked the garment up and gently mopped his glowing forehead with soft "Thank you fans" into the mike. Which got a cry from the back of the room "They're not for you they're for the drummer!"
Pete Ogley Pete came to us from the Ripon/Harrogate area in company with a young Canadian lass if I recall. Pete soon revealed a more than polished level of expertise with the melodeon which was nice to have. He also laid claim to membership of the original "Cockersdale" line-up and sang on the "Prospect Providence" LP. On our Sidmouth week in '87 Pete discussed the north - south divide as seen in folkdom. To illustrate the point a group of us headed for the Middle Bar one lunch time. Wrestling the branch, the symbol of "Me next please", from the assembled crew was a bit of a challenge but we made it and Pete set off on a song. The normal response to the "Drovers Way" north of the Trent is a high volume, high quality blast of chorus singing. In the Middle Bar Sidmouth it was Wakefield Morris and a stony silence from the rest. Possibly the fact that the writer was still alive or that the work was not collected in the EFDSS library with more foot-notes than content was the problem?
Pete drifted away after a few years and was last heard of living out in the Pennine foothills.
Marion Oldham In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Ruth Ollerton Ruth and husband Steve came into the world of the Morris in the mid “Noughties” and soon became a competent dancer. Already a mum to Sam, Ruth soon started on the track to motherhood again and was away from the team for a few years before re-appearing in 2012 now with Sam and his two sisters in tow. I have yet to see a photo of Ruth dancing in which she is not smiling. This is reassuring as the greatest compliment the team can get is “We love watching Wakefield because you’re amazingly good and you always look like you’re having fun!”
Steve Ollerton Steve arrived with wife Ruth and soon settled into the team. Notable for having a brain the size of a planet Steve has an eclectic range of interests. Early on we were intrigued to find he had an electric powered Mini. Not a production model from the BMW stable but a genuine Mini adapted for electricity. Then came the bell ringing and in Steve style this is serious stuff involving striking competitions and the like.
Steve earned his place in the real hall of fame when one wet summer’s afternoon at Barwick-in-Elmet he looked at Ken Martin and observed “You need to see a doctor you’re losing weight too fast”. As Steve is also a GP Ken finally decided that his general feeling of being unwell should be looked at and found he had cancer of the kidney. At least Ken got a few more months out of the spot diagnosis and for that I and many others will always thank Steve.
Becoming a father to the two girls put a break into Steve’s dancing activities for a couple of years. However on his return he’s rapidly settled into the team and in 2013 became the dance master. With a fresh and enthusiastic outlook Steve is writing a new chapter for the team.
Martin Ord Known to the cogniscenti as "Queen Victoria". Not for any reason other than that in his other folkie role Martin would take the part of the widow of Windsor in the Knarsborough Mummers Loch Ness Monster play. Many of the Wakefield team felt that Martins refusal to shave of his beard for the role may have prevented the play's transfer to the West End stage. Martin's arrival with the team co-incided with that of Elaine Pollard - any suspicions that this was not totally coincidental being confirmed when they became an "item". Martin and Elaine left us to take up Applachian dance with "Feet First" but have now I'm told taken up the gentle art of ballroom. Last heard of living in Devon.
Yes and by Warwick FF 2014 Martin was now permanently settled in Devon with Elaine. Handy for Sidmouth and hence the Sidmouth resident cultural phenomenon that is Great Western. Fighting his northern heritage Martin has actually taken up Cotswold Morris with Great Western, which shows bravery and great taste in a single action. Having retired from the workaday world of teaching some years ago Martin arrived at Warwick FF 2014 in a brand new caravan as a first time caravanner. Hopes of an evening’s entertainment were cruelly dashed when I found that Martin had not added an awning to his outfit. But there’s always next year.
Most recent siting of Martin and Elaine was at Shrewsbury FF 2015. Martin happily recounted the news that he has added a NW side to his interests down in Devon. It would have been Wheal Sophia but they have folded. Just who the mystery team is remains shrouded in mystery but Martin reckons that a return to dancing has helped him lose two stone in weight!
Ann Osborne Boxing Day on Heath Common sometime in the mid "Noughties" and a charming and distinctly southern couple enquired about where the team practiced since they were planning on contributing. This was the first sighting of the Osbornes as they are collectively known. Ann is the female and therefore sensible half of the pair. The fact that she is required to chauffeuse the non-driving Ian on his motor travels shows a caring side that must come from her days in the nursing profession. Patient and always considered in her opinions Ann is almost certainly the steady hand on the tiller that guides the Osborne pair in the joint secretary/treasurer role they have held for some years.
One year at Whitby the team had witnessed the arrival of the “Mallard” (?)(Ian check which of the A4 locos this was). Someone casually asked why it had arrived on the platform running in reverse since the back of the tender is not really the best angle to view the streamlining. This led to a learned discussion between Ian and Chris Stephens on the nearest point at which a “three step shunt” or some such manoeuvre could be achieved to turn the loco without recourse to a turntable. Ann is so well versed in the railway lore that Ian carries that after a while she supplied the answer!
Ian Osborne The whiskered and therefore male half of the Osborne pair. Ian is a retired railway man. Not just any railway but at some point a key link in the running of the Orient Express service and therefore on the “management” side. The long career means that Ian’s retirement is studded with away days to various groups usually by train. When not doing this he will inveigle Ann into driving into the wilds to view either retired locomotives or live steamers as they proceed about the network.
When out and about with Wakefield Ian fills the role of announcer for the side. He then retires to the wings to take up the task of being the brass section of the band. In 2010 his style of trombone playing was described by Dave Rose of the Seven Champions in an introduction to the team’s performance in a dance concert as “Avant garde”. This is a possibly the first time that a team musician has had a reference in an introduction since the passing of Jinky Wells!
Siobhan Owen Trefor’s daughter and I hope she won’t object to being identified this way. Danced with us for a short while before studies and university took over.
Trefor Owen The team founder and driving force behind the team in it’s early years. Some of us remember when practice nights ran from 7:00 till 10:00 and could be spent on just one dance or even one figure! Tears and tantrums were a feature but boy did we fly when we got it right. Trefor had a vision of NW Morris being fun and entertaining – a world away from the plodding drum driven fare then seen as the style. Cotswold dancers try to stay 2” above the ground, NW dancers try to get 2|” below it. That was the crack. We changed that!
Trefor had danced with Horwich Prize Medal before coming over to Wakefield. He also had a line of research into the dance which produced most notably the Failsworth Polka his closely guarded treasure. If he saw anyone trying to film the dance we would just stop until the camera was put away. Unthinkable in this day and age of Facebook and You-Tube. The team were occasionally referred to by festival organisers as “Trefor’s Team”. Something he always corrected since at festivals Trefor would be trying to make a sale or two on the clog stall.
Yes Trefor was and still is, as of 2013, a working clog maker. Not just a hobbyist but a working chap who has earned his crust for 30 years and more making wooden soled foot wear. For miners, steelworkers, glass makers and fish porters. It’s a roll-call of dead industries! As a leather worker he once took a contract to make holsters for police radios tro keep the wolf from the door. One thing with Trefor if he said the clogs would be ready in June you always needed to check which year.
Having published a book of NW dances Trefor credited the team for their patience and forbearance in getting the dances sorted out. The problem was that the number of teams doing “Ashton” or “Blackrod” meant that we needed new dances. So off we went on the road to Prescot. This was the dance that may have sapped Trefor’s will to live. Months went by and we kept revising and re-teaching till finally Trefor stepped back and stood down.
Still seen at festivals Trefor continued to be a force in the Morris world and eventually became President of the Morris Federation for some years. He also found time to appear with Oyster Morris , Boojum Rapper and The Flag and Bone Gang. Now settled in Wales, his spiritual home, Trefor still works away at the last and draw knives in the clog shop. A revival in Welsh stepping has bought an new demand though as he says “Explaining that I can’t produce 30 pairs of clogs for a class of kids ready for the start of term can be a bit wearing”. Given the rarity of the craft Trefor has featured on TV and radio quite often and made clogs for TV, film and even ballet productions. For more information visit Trefors web site
Sadly Trefor lost his beloved Rhiannon to cancer in October 2014. The consolation if there is such a thing was that after a three year fight the end was painfree and at home with Trefor where she wanted to be. Rhiannon and Trefor always spoke of the happiness of waking to the view from the bedroom window of dolphins swimming in the bay so being at home seems just right. Seen at Shrewsbury FF 2015 Trefor said he could give you the time since he lost Rhiannon in weeks, days, hours and minutes.
Whitby 2017 was by Trefor's account his retirement as a working clogger. However there is a more than strong hint that the man and his shed syndrome is working and that Trefor will still be found in the workshop creating clogs for the discerning public; but now as a leisure/retiremnt activity. Once on a dance out at Walkleys I was in the gift shop when I heard a voice saying "If you want proper clogs you want some made by Trefor Owen like those over there". Realising it was my footware being referred to I turned and agreed that the clogs were indeed from Trefor's workshop. So not just an item of footwear but also a distinctly recognisable work of art! Trefor was out in company with June O'Brien at teh Kings Arms for Boxing Day 2017.
Jenny Owens Jenny was a dancer right back at the dawn of the teams efforts to transform the image of NW from “staid” to “stupendous”. Often to be found in the company of Melsa and given to a generally forthright, or if you prefer Yorkshire view of matters Jenny gave great value as a dancer and social member of the side. As with so many Morris persons Jenny has a great caring side and this became apparent when she decided that with the kids having flown the nest or at least become independent now was the time to train as a nurse. So Wakefield Morris lost a dancer and the NHS gained a nursing professional. In the years since completing her nursing courses Jenny is most often seen in riding gear indulging a delight in horse and equitation.
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Melsa Pagan The lovely Melsa was as with Jenny Owens (see above) an early member of the side. In the days when a performance set would be team dances from the men, the women and the mixed side a “novelty” item would often be thrown in to the mix. After all the mission statement was “Inform, Educate, Entertain” in those days. This is relevant to Melsa since as well as being a rock solid dancer and leader of the women’s side she could also do a more than acceptable turn as a solo clog stepper. Someone in the Pagan orbit was a keen angler, a fact that came out at Redcar Festival one year when Mel showed up not with the conventional sleeping bag but rather a fetching water proof overall which was to be used with layered clothing as a substitute sleeping bag. Or did I just dream that? I seem to recall it was the same Redcar where Howard Statham gave the Wilsons a rollicking for making too much noise in the toilet block. They were exploring the acoustics at silly o’clock in the morning and keeping the kids awake.
On a trip to Germany Mel came along and just to be different brought along a grandson for the ride, literally as the young chap was in a pushchair. Working through a week of displays and social mingling Mel did the solo clog stepping with no problems. It was a Wyresdale that sparks a fond memory. It was in the middle of Hanover if my memory serves; we’d done the demo and gone in search of volunteers. Once round the trio and then the “surprise” final figure involving raised legs and hand clasps on a near Masonic level. I was doing well since my two volunteers had made the task of instruction easy when they announced they were for Leicester. However Mel had got what we must now call a person of diminished size and her efforts to complete the final figure are a picture still.
Mel called time on her dancing when she took up the job of steward at the village Liberal Club. Various other jobs over the years until retirement came along. Mel was there for Ken Martin’s funeral and still bounces around the village though when I asked how the grandson was a few years ago Mel said “He’s fine and he’s got kids of his own now”. That’s how to make a bloke feel old then
Elaine Pollard Elaine came to us as one of the fully ledged dancers who decided that Wakefield was THE side to dance with if you moved “up North”; and yes there was more than one. Elaine lived in Hebden Bridge and by profession was a lexicographer – that’s a writer of dictionaries for those at the back of the class. A lover of cats and dogs Elaine once said that working from home was OK but taking Lundy the dog for a short walk in Hardcastle Crags at the back of her house could expand to fill a whole afternoon all too easily. Elaine was a great asset to the side and provided input to the great debate that was the redesign of the women’s kit. This arduous exercise took what seemed like years and was finally completed as the 20th Century came to an end. However by then Elaine had moved on to pastures new.
Elaine and Martin Ord when with the team were an “item” and remain so to the present day (2014). At one point on their travels they were actively dancing with “Feet First” down in Chesterfield. Over the years they have travelled around but now seem to have come to rest in Devon. Briefly met at Warwick FF 2014 Elaine says she plans to carry on with proof reading work for 18 months before joining the ranks fo the "Time Rich".
and at Shrewsbury FF 2015 Elaine is still reported to be working. Finding a dance interest in Devon is proving a challenge but two "Lundy" lookalikes must take up a fair bit of time and energy. The major problem of the day was that Shrewsbury only allow assistance dogs into the venues. Mind you given the levels of amplification in use at the two main marquees being outside and at distance could be a mercy.
Jan Porter Jan had a short but adventurous time with the side if my memory serves. Certainly with the team on the 1987 Sidmouth booking, Jan always contributed great value when performing. The big challenge for Jan was keeping the children amused whilst out and about and at the same time maintaining a search for romance. Jan worked in the world of print and could usually be relied on to provide words of guidance on promoting the team reaching a high point with an article in the Yorkshire Post.
In the years since ceasing to be an active dancer Jan has built a base as a caller and band leader for ceilidhs. This is under the working title of Mrs. Porter and a wonderful web site can be found at Mrs Porter . The web site is a credit to Jan and a joy to visit!
Pete Pozmann In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
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Barbara Quinn The big question is where to start with this one? Barbara has been around so long that many count her as a founding member of the side, though this is not actually true. But on the basis of contribution Barbara must count as one of the major players. Coming to the side in the 80’s Barbara was there for the glories of Seven Champs weekends and trips to Germany. In the 90’s still dancing and fitting in the high profile festivals around the duties of galley rat on the “Grand Turk”. And on into the Noughties and still dancing as this is written (2014). Remembered as much for her sometimes turbulent romantic life as for her dancing Barbara takes life by the horns and gives it all she’s got never letting things get her down
Looking back over the years I recall vividly being inside a folding camper unit with Barbara struggling to get it back into the basic shape it had arrived in. Borrowing the unit had made it possible for Barbara and the girls to make it to “Folk Around the Wrekin” and it was assumed that as Meg and I had similar unit I was an expert, touchingly misplaced trust there then. Then there was Towersey where Barbara and Gerry were doubling up together; this was notable for the fact that faced with a double air bed and a mains driven air pump the girls persuaded a chap in the security hut to let them use his 13 amp supply. The experience of being pinned in a small security hut with an expanding air bed and two petite and sweet Yorkshire lasses probable warms that security chap’s cockles to this day. Always ready to help out a friend Barbara’s outings with the side would often involve a friend who would enjoy sharing the experience. Most notably Pauline who we saw so often that she became an honorary team member until her fight with cancer came to an end. Within the side Barbara was and probably still is a great defender of the high standards we set, though at times this could raise a few hackles.
It was Barbara who inadvertently led to one of my more memorable faux pas moments. It started one night when Barbara arrived in the hall and asked me if I would have a word with the chaps and ask them not to be quite so enthusiastic in greeting her with a hug as it was making her then “chap” Ian extremely jealous. Sometime later at a dance out a woman in the audience asked “How are Wakefield getting on these days”? Seeking a mildly humorous answer I mentioned Barbara’s request and added “Mind you asking George Chambers not to greet a woman with a big hug would be like asking him to give up breathing”. “Yes I Know I was married to him for a few years” said Frances George’s first wife”.
Julie Quinn The younger of the two Quinn girls Julie was with the team as a junior and mascot for several years. This was wonderful though at times stressful since when Julie was around in her perfect replica kit the “big” team members would be shoved aside as photographers dived in to get a picture of the sweet young girl. Notably on one occasion Julie went missing and panic followed as the team spread out in search of her. Finally she was found some way away from the dance spot with a photographer who had been looking for a better background. A chastened Julie was brought back to the fold and a heavily warned off photographer sent on his way. On a trip to Herne Wakefield’s twin town in Germany a night out at a gasthoff had come to an end when Julie was found to be fast asleep on a bench. So the author got to carry the sleeping Jules back to the hostel accommodation. I would point out that Julie was and still is tiny and so was no great burden, also in the present day the prospect of Jules falling asleep at a party is not even on the radar.
Rather than take a place in the team when she was older Julie opted to take on a path in Irish dance. This led to her being one of the dancers with The Doonan Family Band alongside the other girls of the family. Added to this was what I believe is called “modern interpretive dance”, a performance of which featured in the Wakefield Opera house when the Solicitors Soul band put together a night of music and dance. Still living in the Wakefield area and still cheerful when last seen that’s our Julie.
Shelly Quin Shelly can still be seen dancing with the team to this day, though this is through the medium of her mum’s kit which has for years featured a photo badge of Shelly in full flight at Sidmouth 1987. When not dancing Shelly, Michelle to use her Sunday name could soothe the troubled soul with a turn on the concert flute, “Annie’s Song” being a particular favourite. One memorable day in Whitby for Folk week the team was in a waterfront boozer not noted for its welcome to “folkies”. Someone suggested that Shelly gave us a tune and so she did. The atmosphere warmed as the music flowed. As the appreciative applause died away a woman sitting near by leant over and said “That was lovely lass but I’d put that flute out of site or some bugger in here will nick it”.
Shelley decided to follow her dad, Andy, to Canada in her early twenties and has now been settled there for many years. She’s mum to Amanda and this keeps the globetrotting Barbara busy trying to get over the pond and keep up with her family. Some years ago at a practice night we did get Shelly and Amanda visiting the hall in Horbury. After some persuasion Shelly got up to dance at which point like all teenagers Amanda suffered agonies of embarrassment at her mum’s exuberance. I’m fairly sure there was a thinks balloon over Barbara’s head with “Payback time darling” in it.
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