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 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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****** S ******Bill Sables A gentleman and a scholar, rare qualities in a musician. Bill was with us for a few seasons and amongst other things introduced us to “Father Xmas” the knot and rope expert who helped us fashion our replacement molly cords. Bill once explained that the trick of doing a round the world trip was to go the “wrong way”. Just what this meant we’re not sure but if I meet him again I must ask.
Brian Samuels The "Gentle Giant". Brian came to us from the Iron Men of Telford to move in with Barbara. He also brought us Corrine and Duncan his kids - although only Corrine danced out with us. Brian had a neat line in picking up women - literally. The scheme was that if a suitable woman found herself between Brian and George Chambers in the final figure of "Horbury Polka" the two lads would obligingly lean down and as the lass hooked her arms round their shoulders stand up lifting her off the ground. Brian left us to go over the hill to Lancashire when a new relationship opened up in his ilfe. Sadly he was killed in a motor way accident a few years later leaving his new partner and a son behind.
Corrine Samuels Brian’s daughter who danced out with us for a season. If I remember correctly the major reason for this was to show her mum that she could dance just like her dad. When Brian headed off to Lancashire Corrine stayed on in Wakefield to sit her A-levels(?) and we lost track of her.
Tony Senior Photographer and gentleman Tony arrived one night having made a connection between attractive women and Morris dancing. Asked where he lived Tony would reply “Oh somewhere dead quiet”. Turned out he had a place if not actually in a cemetery then at least with a good view of one. It was Tony who realised that Rebecca Limb was a minor when we were at Rochester and spent the weekend gallantly deflecting any southerners who got too close. After a couple of seasons Tony’s interest in dancing seemed to wane, some put this down to the departure of Liz Higgs from the team. But it may just have been the knees and ankles that curse the exponents of the NW Morris.
Julie Smith In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Gerry Statham The ever delightful Gerry is one of the two Hooley sisters, with her sister Gilly, she graced the team in the early days. Whilst Morris dancing has a beards and beer image to some Gerry bought to the world of dance an immaculate turn out, grace, style, fun and a love of fine wine. Unfortunately the red wine would on occasion find its way onto the pinafores of fellow dancers. So Gerry was somewhat miffed on returning from the bar one day to find Meg wearing a full sou’wester in anticipation of any spillage.
Sidmouth 87 found the ladies thinking of ways to add a little pizazz to the kit. The solution was by general agreement to use yellow ribbon as the lace for the clogs. So main stage at the arena a crowd of thousands and we’re off. Mid-way through the set the ribbons were proving less than effective as laces leading Gerry’s dad Bill to comment to his neighbour in the audience “Aye that’s my girl up there in front, the one who’s just kicked her clogs off.”
Mind you Bill was a huge character in his own right. At Sidmouth Trefor had beaten the organisers into providing indoor camping facilities for the team, a first we believe for an English side. Gerry, Howard and Bill arrived with a caravan and Bill’s morning trek through the sleeping dancers in the church hall to collect water with an accompanying rendition of “Gunga Din” was memorable for all.
If out and about it was generally reckoned that Gerry would need an hour’s lead time on the departure time to get her make up on. Someone once asked if it could be done any quicker and by general agreement it was decided that 30 minutes was only enough time to get the first layer laid on. Bu the results were always more than worth it, especially for the Wooders brothers who at Rochester one year became groupies verging on stalkers. Leading to a team comment at one spot “Hold on folks we can’t start yet Gerry and Maureens fans haven’t got here yet”.
One Cleethorpes festival found the team heading for the swimming baths to relax and shower after a day’s dancing. The Scout hut whilst comfortable enough did rather lack on the bathroom side. Everyone was happily swimming when Gerry came out to the poolside in a black bikini with matching hair bows and we swear waterproof eye liner. As Meg pointed out Gerry set the standard which the rest of the girls could only aspire to.
Then of course there was the Wakefield rhythm section of Gerry, Barbara and Meg as the basic trio. Lined up with Tony Bacon on box the girls would provide a tambourine wall of sound to drive the dance along. Always with the best Salvation Army whirling of the tambourine and a Shadows walk for the complete band.
Of course we must not forget the social side of life where Gerry and her then husband Howard provided much of the drive. In the early years our Boxing Day tours started at Newmillerdam where “Gordon the warden”, a friend of Howards, would cone off section of the car park for our performance. Then on to the Kings Arms at Heath before heading for the White Horse at Sharleston , Gerry’s local, for the final spot. Howards working in the catering profession provided bulk catering for team events and his skills in presentation were amazing. One year at Warwick the team returned from the Saturday tour to find that a simple salad for Gerry and Howard had been lifted by the decorative slicing of tomatoes. Several other dancers found their salads equally enhanced as Howard had basically run a workshop for those staying on the campsite.
Carolyn Stead A tale of true romance here. Carolyn was a student at Bretton Hall College when she met Garry a local lad, who if memory serves was a sales type. Coming to the end of her course in music with a speciality in singing Carolyn stayed on in the north to be with Garry who by now had started training at Bretton himself. At some point the two of them got wed and decided to try Morris dancing as a hobby. Just what order that came in I’m not sure but it’s the reverse of several case histories in the team where a marriage/relationship break up drew one of the partners into the world of traditional dance.
It turned out that Carolyn had some form in the world of dance since she grew up in Abingdon in Oxfordshire a hot bed of Cotswold Morris. As is the way of things and more so in the world of Morris the question of the fertility roots of the dance soon proved true for Carolyn and Garry and sadly for the team Carolyn having become a mum gave up being a dancer. A real shame as she had, and I hope still has the most wonderful smile.
Garry Stead Some of the history of our Garry can be found above where the true romance qualities of his life can be found. Garry’s training was in speech and drama if memory serves, in fact I’m getting a vague recall that Garry and Carolyn met at some am-dram event. Anyway the creative side of Garry’s training came out quite often when he could be found fielding questions from interested punters in an authoritative if somewhat creative way. Discussing this one day Garry and I agreed that what is essentially an oral tradition must of necessity be bent slightly in the process of transmission. Or at least I think that’s what we decided.
As well as the Morris Garry also supported a water polo side in Dewsbury and one dark night at practice Garry spoke of a dilemma he was facing. He enjoyed dancing and swimming but as a new dad fitting both in was not practical. The Morris side was doing well and strongly supported however the swimmers were struggling for numbers so Garry felt he should give his precious spare time to them. So sadly we lost a great personality whose mark on the side lived on as the step up for Horbury Junction was a Garry Stead creation. Garry and Carolyn were last seen at a Boxing Day dance out around 2010 having walked in from Heath village which they had just moved to.
Gary was out on the heath on Boxing Day 2016 and accompanied by one of his lads. Gary is still teaching as is Caroline. As we watched the dancing Gary remembered how back in the day the crowd reaction to a display was usually "We love watching you lot, you always look as if you're enjoying yourselves". The question Gary was asking was basically "Why do this lot look so grim?". Maybe it was the cold, maybe the howling wind but Sarah and Simon managed a smile or two and Sarah Earnshaw had a try so it can be done folks.
Chris Stevens Chris came to us when the stalwart lads of Pomfret Morris finally called it a day or just dribbled to a halt. Chris would turn up at practise nights wrapped up in parka and scarf which came off but the padded waistcoat or maybe a body warmer stayed on – and he never broke into a sweat; which was weird. Chris came from a railway family and showed and interest verging on obsession with all matters rail related. He claimed that in his time with the Worth Valley Railway it was in fact his hand that is seen on screen issuing a ticket to a cast member in the “Railway Children” film. When Ian Cuthbertson arrived in the team it was considered advisable to steer clear of the two unless railways were your thing.
Chris was when we first met him an IT guru at Wakefield College and thus much taken with the pursuit of new technology. Phones, tablets, watches cameras all found early adoption in the Stevens world. Though usually you ended up looking at or listening to trains! More unusually Chris was also training for the role of deacon in the Catholic Church and we had a first when several team members attended the ordination service in Leeds when Chris became a deacon.
Another first came when one evening at a dance out Chris was inspired to perform a “Princess Royal” jig. This is a dance of energy and grace from the Cotswold tradition for which I can honestly say that a performance in clogs was a truly memorable and possibly unique moment. Over the years Chris had a succession of memorable cars which he thought of as classic and wife Vicky thought of a money pits.
Given the calling to ecclesiastic duties Chris’s availability for dance outs became limited and I gather that the dread ”Morris knee” or similar finally drew the curtain on Chris’s dancing days. As of 2016 Chris was chaplin to Leeds Metropolitan University. By 2019 Chris had returned to his roots in Derbyshire and become a chaplain to Loughborough College. It would seem in retirement he has found time to add a large live steam engine to his interests!
Peter Stevens Pete made his mark on the side early on - literally. Just over the 14 year barrier Pete was dancing a "centre" at the back of the set on a dance out at Carlisle when his enthusiastic polka style resulted in Malc Hudson getting a kicking, This rendered Malc hors de combat for a while. Subsequently Pete strove to get to the head of the set whenever possible, which on balance seems a good idea really. Taking a lead from his dad Peter also dances in the Cotswold style with 18-30 morris and I'm told this gives him an opportunity to get his Rhubarb Tart kit on and clomp about in agricultural boots. Everyone to his own I say.
Having provided us with some years entertainment as he progressed through Askham Bryan Pete now works with hearing impaired and takes part in muder ball contests. Still finding time of course to follow all things steam powered in the family tradition. In 2019 Pete got married. He was also somehow a driving force behind persuading Wakefield Morris to join the Morris Ring. Words fail me.
Vicki Stevens OK not actually a dancer but as mum/wife to the Stevens quartet Vicki was a key element in getting a side out and ready to dance. Possibly the trip to Bannalec proved the major test of Vicki's patience since the cumulative effect of car breakdowns and Chris's departure to a retreat at the end of the trip would have strained many a lesser person. But over the years Vicki was hostess at New Years events and Guy Fawkes celebrations. Coping with the love of all things steam related that feature in Chris and Peter's hobbies together with a passion for "classic" AKA old cars was taken as a given and Will's decision to head to the far south west seemed to be taken in her stride. However in spite of her best efforts the baby of the family, George has not as yet stepped out to perform with Wakefield. But who knows .....?
William Stevens Will was destined to spend a brief period with the side since his dad came to us from Pomfret and his brother was keen to get involved. The lure of beer and women may also have played a part in the attraction to traditional dance. At one point Will speculated on a vocation in the priesthood and indeed did a theology course at Aberystwyth. However chaps being chaps Will found himslf heading for Devon following his heart. And as of 2014 that is where he was last heard of doing a little RE teaching. Met Will at Pete's wedding and he was a new minted dad and very proud as were Chris and Vicky. Will's "little" bit of teaching has morphed into full time with excluded kids.
Jackie Sturton How do you describe a dynamo like Jackie? Jackie came to the team from various other dance sides, Golden Star from Norfolk and a Bristol side who's name escapes me. I recall as a fact that Jackie hit 30 whilst with us and organised a Dales tour with her other sides to celebrate. When she got married the team turned out for a demo dance at the reception - in Norfolk! We have photos to prove it folks. Oh and Jackie found out just how inquisitive Chris Walker can be when she moved house. At practise not long after the move Chris said she'd got a decent place to live but it would be nice if she washed up her breakfast stuff before going out in the morning. I think it was the marriage rather than the comment on washing up that resulted in Jackies move down to Norfolk. Last I heard was that Jackie was back dancing Cotswold and had become a mum.
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Becky Taylor A true child of the dance tradition Becky came to Wakefield as one of the Massen clan from Grimsby. So that’s dad with Grimsby Morris and mum Cheryl and daughter Becky with Barley Break. On joining the Wakefield side Becky helpfully pointed out that our paths had crossed regularly when Wakefield appeared at the now defunct Cleethorpes Folk Festival. Indeed I could recall teaching a workshop there that went curiously astray. Probably before Becky’s time I pondered , “Oh No I was there” said Becky “ I must have been about 12 years old. Exit aged dance master feeling really really old.
Becky brought youth, experience, talent and possibly a true rarity – a male dancer in the shape of Chris. Between them they contributed to many dance outs when other team commitments did not clash. Yes folks young Becky is a Morris tart i.e. a member of multiple sides and follower of diverse traditions. The confounding thing is that the young whippersnapper is actually really good and stylish in all I the performances I have seen, but I just wish that I could win the argument that in NW at least in my version having a happy smile is just about compulsory.
It’s been some years now since Becky and Chris tied the knot and got coverage in the Morris Federation Newsletter for the event as it was Morris themed celebration. My latest information is that as at 2015 Becky was focussing more on performing with Pecsætan Morris at the expense of Wakefield.
Chris Taylor First seen in company with the lovely Becky Massen this Cotswold dancer was so keen to ingratiate himself with her that he actually took up NW style with Wakefield. This for a chap who has been known to enter the Sidmouth solo jig competitions is a sign of true love. As with his intended bride Chris has a dance heritage. I’m pretty sure invites to the Cheltenham Folk Festival came through via Chris’s mum.
Anyway having wooed fair maid and won her hand Chris is actually still hanging in there with Wakefield or at least he was as of July 2015 when I saw him out with the side at the Kings Arms. Might it be the lure of the beer cart that calls to him? Could Chris be in pursuit of the beard and beer belly so noted in Cotswold dancer s of a certain age? Does Becky know? We wait with baited breath for answers.
Dennis Taylor Dennis came to the team as a more than talented musician and a lad with a close relationship with Pauline Woods-Wilson. Ever cheerful and good humoured my own recall of Dennis is not so much from appearances with Wakefield as of chance meetings when the team that Pauline is with appear somewhere. In a snatched moment we catch up with where the twosome are living and I’m left amazed at the distances they cover to support multiple teams.
Karen Towend In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
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Tony Vernon Tony was an interesting character Wakefield recruited in the late 80’s. Tony was and presumably still is the brother of Mary Garside. Having been teaching in the Middle East Tony had returned to the UK for some further educational reason and having some time to spare decided to take up traditional dance with the team. So on dark winter nights Tony would appear in the hall and spend a rigorous couple of hours learning the mysteries of the dance. His dedication was thrown into a sharp spotlight when it came to our notice that Tony was at some point living in Liverpool and travelling to Horbury on his motor cycle!
The major memory of Tony is of the week the team spent at Sidmouth in 1987. Having had a late invite Trefor Owen reckoned we could squeeze some concessions out of the festival organisers, no I don’t understand it either but there we go. Anyway one big concession was that we became the first and possibly only UK based side to get indoor accommodation out of the festival. So a church hall became our base and Tony settled in though his choice of an Arabic thobe for casual wear was an early point of interest. Keen to keep up the best standard of turn out Tony then revealed a nifty line in ironing technique and if I recall was happy to press kit for others though he drew a line at Alan Lindsey’s suggestion that his socks needed a crease. The torch lit parade forming a finale to the week led Tony on experimentation with sticks, wire and fire- lighters. Vigorous tests were carried out in the car park outside the hall to see if a lit flare could indeed be used whilst dancing a processional move. At one point my sons arrived greatly exited to tell all of us in the hall that “The bloke in the white dress has just thrown a fire-lighter under his motor bike!” This was probably the point where a steady walk was accepted as the best we would achieve on the actual night.
Anyway having completed his course of education Tony returned to the Middle East. Some years later I bumped into Mary who said Tony was getting along fine but had a somewhat complex romantic arrangement going on. Maybe one day I’ll get an insight as to what that was.
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Chris Walker The musician of choice for many years and for many teams. Chris started with the team in the last days of Tony Bacon’s time with us. Chris’s recollection of the learning curve was that he was often a bar behind Tony since as soon as he got the hang of playing the tune Tony would step up the pace. Whatever the case Chris picked up the nuances of Tony’s style and then added some of his own so that the question of “Chain or no chain?” always came up if Original Polka was announced. And on a really good surface Chris would give us a break from the music so that the clogs could sound out acapella. With the passing years more musicians came and in some cases went and Chris patiently led the newcomers in their own learning curve. Always happy to play Chris became musician for the Rhubarb Tarts and still plays for them today. The Castleford Longsword Dancers were in fact Chris’s first team and still get his support when they dance out.
When not actually playing Chris’s main focus was on food and where and when it would be available. On one notable occasion the team were attending the birthday bash for Chinewerde and one of the visiting teams was short of a musician. So after a brief negotiation Chris stepped up to the mark and played for both Wakefield and the bereft side. Come the meal there was as a recall either a draw for teams order of serving or maybe it was alphabetical; whatever the case Chris realised that Wakefield was well down the pecking order. So when his newly adopted team was called up for food off went Chris to collect his dinner. By the time Wakefield got called up Chris had finished his first serving and without a blush set off for a second!
Still playing for Wakefield, the Rhubarb Tarts and as far as I know Castleford, Chris has been a great bloke and regular drinking companion over the years. Now finally retired from his role as waste management guru Chris may find time to sit back and relax at last. Though reports are that he is now looking to get a ceilidh band started!
Sally Walker Now Chris insists that daughter Sally danced with the team at some point but I can’t recall just where or when. So next time I get a chance I must find out more.
Tim Walker Sally’s brother Tim on the other hand did make a mark on my memory even though I think his dancing years amounted to about one season. Chief memory is of Darlington Spring Thing at a time when Tim at fourteen or so was proving the wiz at the new dance “Newton”. Dratted youngsters have an ability to learn very quickly and adding a “new” dance to a leant set of four to achieve dance out credibility is not that difficult after all. The old hands have to add the “new dance to the 12 or so that made up the ever expanding repertoire, or at least that was our cover story and we stuck to it.
Any way after much discussion we decided to unveil the “new” dance at a select spot which if memory serves involved rather more rubbish skips than audience. Having completed the dance to standard that was at least competent we decided a beer was in order. At this point young Tim piped up “If I grumble and complain a lot as I come in with you lot can I get a beer as well?” , cheeky whippersnapper.
Now working in PR Tim lives way down south and is a master video producer for advertising and bands. As far as is known his early exposure to traditional dance has now resurfaced in either his personal or professional life.
John Walsh One of the main stays of my early dancing years it was whilst ringing church bells in Horbury that John suggested that I might enjoy traditional dance. The main thrust was “Smaller bells, more beer”. Lured by this I signed on as they say and found that the world of traditional dance was for me. John was and still is a mainstay of Horbury life which rather limited his time available for dancing. I think the final nail in the dance involvement for John was a dance out at Emley where the main offering was a Courage breweries ale. Given that John sported a badge with the aphorism “Courage, its fowl” the beer was not to his taste. Opting for Guinness John discovered that it was only available in canned form and that the chiller was out of service. This put a damper on the evening which was so severe that I think it put an end to John’s affection for dancing.
Having retired from active auctioneering John was still based in Horbury, still ringing big bells, chairing the historical society and also involved in the allotments association even though he had not got an allotment. Sadly John passed away on 10th September 2017 as John Earshaw observed "Another of the original Shrogys gone to join Ken in the hereafter".
John WatsonIn the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Ken Watson Ken is yet another of those talented musicians who choose to hang out with dancers. As musician for Grimsby Morris and also Green Ginger Clog we ran into Ken on a regular basis at the now sadly long gone Cleethorpes Folk Festival. More to the point when our own musical support was stretched as Tony Bacon headed off to college it was Ken who on occasion stepped in to provide the musical drive for the team. At a time (2015) when Morris musicians seem to outnumber dancers at times, it’s a fond memory of Ken playing pipe and tabor for Grimsby in their Cotswold persona that reminds me what it’s all about.
Nina Watson Ken’s daughter, musician and a one-time dancer , last heard of as a member of the Bismarks ceilidh band and mum to the grandchildren.
Pat Watson Kens wife and a dancer with Barley Break Pat did at one point turn out in Wakefield kit. This was as far as I recall driven by Barbara Quinn so that we could field a team at an event. However at this remove my memory may be at fault.
Vic Watson Melodeon player and tanker driver Vic was with us for one short season before family life took priority over the life of a Morris musician. Always good company Vic was one of the early caravan users in the team!
Helen Watt In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
June Watt In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Louise Webster In the words of Wikipedia "Citation needed"
Pam Westley It was Pam’s move to Yorkshire to work for the NHS that led to her involvement with Wakefield. As a dancer with Stroud Morris Pam probably decided that having seen us on one of our trips south we were worth a go. There is of course the other option that there was shortage of women’s Cotswold teams in the area, whatever the reason Pam and Phil have been with Wakefield for many years now and have contributed much to the world of traditional dance. I wonder if Pam will ever put her plan to get a women’s Cotswold team going into action?
Phil Westley Phil arrived as part of the move by Pam to Yorkshire. Being a teacher Phil obviously decided that this was an ideal opportunity to take early retirement. Unlike Pam Phil did find a men’s Cotswold side in the form of Leeds Morris where his experience as a Stroud Morris man would be welcomed. Since Stroud had a men’s and women’s element whilst Leeds are decidedly of the Morris Ring faction it must have been a need for a togetherness vibe that led Phil to come down to Horbury and learn the evolutions of NW Morris with Pam. Over the years Phil has provided the creative input to the teams promotional material on many occasions. One specific favourite being a Bertie Basset style Morris dance badge created for the Pontefract liquorice festival.
Jenny Wilson Ann Hudson’s daughter Jenny was with us for a season or two and brought the average age down a bit which was a great help. Always a happy face and with a ready to go attitude Jenny was a real asset.
Krisha Winska Known as “Miss Duracell” simply because of her energetic approach to life Krisha was of Polish/Scottish descent. During her student days she had made it a policy to work on the continent and acquire extra language skills which came in useful on the team trips to France and Germany in the early years. Confrontations between Krisha and Trefor lived on for many years as folk memories within the team, with most agreeing that when really wound up Krisha’s language of choice headed down the Glaswegian route.
Out at festivals Krisha could dance all day, head back to base and within an hour or so head off to a ceilidh and dance the night away. Ken Martin did claim to have grabbed a photo of Krisha in a moment of repose once; although as he commented “I was using a very fast film”.
Pauline Woods-Wilson Pauline came to the team one dark winters evening and survived the banter around the fact that she was a southerner with a double barrelled name with poise and grace, and to be fair a certain amount of “Am I bovvered”. One of the truly steady dancers who provide a core to any team, Pauline is also skilled in the ways of other dance forms. Or putting it another way she is a Morris Tart. On occasion she has been seen out with Windsor Morris, Downs on Tour and Chiltern Hundreds, and I’m pretty sure that list is not complete.
Working in IT for a car company Pauline has the benefit of a level of company car that must make covering the distances to dance events with the various teams she is involved with a little easier. At one point Pauline had a plan to celebrate a significant birthday by dancing with every team she had been associated with. That was some years ago now and as far as I know Pauline is still dancing. Should she ever decide to take the retired dancers option of turning out as a musician the ever patient Dennis will be an expert guide and tutor I’m sure.
December 2020 and I get a new subscriber to the Youtube videos on line, that makes two! Pauline has commented "Those were the days" to the video of Horwich Original at Towersy in 1990. Following the link Pauline Woods-Wilson I find Pauline's collection of videos amongst which is a display of Horbury Rushcart performed by Chiltern Hundreds. Now I thought this dance had been bypassed by the Wakefield side so where and when did the spark re kindle? Investigations are in hand.
So I checked the Morris Federation web site out of casual interest to see what the world of traditional dance had been up to in 2020, the Year of Covid-19. The big news was that on the 1st of January Pauline had stepped in as a temporary part-time president. This makes the second Wakefield realted holder of the position; Trefor Owen being the first. A quick email to congratulate Pauline revealed that "temporary part-time" has become full time.
Denise Woodward Bubbly, chatty and lively are the words that spring to mind here. Rather like Krisha (see above) Denise would stand her ground if Trefor went too far in his critique of either the team as a whole or an individual. For reasons never entirely clear Denise had a knack of shedding items of costume mid performance. It might be a slipping under skirt, a floating apron or “Nora Batty” tights. Whatever the case with usually seamless poise the item would be adjusted or discarded as necessary and the dance would continue.
Usually to be found in company with Yatty (AKA Julie Yates) Denise was a great asset to the side along with husband Neil. On becoming a mum Denise stepped back from dancing and eventually left Yorkshire for the Midlands when Neil took a teaching job down there. Neil and Denise went their separate ways some years ago and as of 2015 Denise had returned to Yorkshire and now lives in Horbury. The surprise on Boxing Day 2017 was to see Denise out at the Kings Arms. Looking rather frail Denise was in company with Neil, her ex, who persuaded her to come along and catch up with the team and some of the faces from her times dancing with us.
Neil Woodward Team squire at one point Neil was an early team member who was and still is a real folkie, which is to say he not only danced but was and still is a keen performer on guitar and vocals at sessions. Neil’s day job as a language teacher came in really handy one day when the team was dancing in Wakefield. Noticing a local councillor in the crowd Neil ambled over to say hullo. At this point he found the councillor was hosting a councillor from Wakefield twin town of Herne in Germany. Neil’s German came to the fore as he explained to the visitor the nuances of North West Morris and the Wakefield team. By the end of the conversation the team had an invite to twinning event in Herne, which WMDC were honour bound to finance!
As a teacher Neil regarded his job as being rather temporary until he could escape, or at least get to a position where his classes were filled with kids who wanted to be there rather than just marking time until they could quit school. Eventually the quest led Neil down to the Midlands where he still lives although he returns regularly to Wakefield to visit family and to drop into the Ossett Singers club.
Christmas 2017 and Neil turned up in Horbury to announce his return to "Gods Own County". After a spell bunking with brother Pete, Neil has settled in Huddersfield.
Pete Woodward Neil’s baby brother Pete was with the team for much of the early years. Handy as a dancer, Pete spent much of his time trying to avoid getting run down by Doug during the reverse polka move in the Processional figure of the Failsworth dance. However it was as a musician that Pete came to the fore when Tony Bacon’s availability was reduced. As Pete told it he had started out in the youth orchestra as a brass player. However being Yorkshire there was surplus of brass so he was encouraged to take to the violin. This came in handy when the violin transforms into a fiddle for the accompaniment of tradition dance.
Pete was with us for many away days and trips abroad until whilst training as a chef at college. His skills in food preparation being especially useful if the team had a “do” on. Eventually Pete set out as a caterer and left Wakefield for parts foreign. However the team did on one occasion catch up with him at Malham where for a short stint he was the manager at the Buck Inn.
Later on Pete turned his musical talents to performing and revealed that his guitar work was just a accomplished as his fiddle playing. As “Woody the Stringman” Pete played out as one of the Booze Brothers duo and also with the Muldoon Brothers. With Tony Bacon’s long standing part in the “Solicitors” this gives a Wakefield Morris element to two of the notable local bands.
It’s some years now since Pete headed for Spain to make his crust playing music. The fact that he can also create some very tidy backing tracks means that he is just as entertaining as a solo artiste as he is as part of an ensemble. So if you are enjoying the sun and sand on the Med and hear the sound of “Copperhead Road” or “The Devil Came Down to Georgia” powering out of a bar drop by it might just be Pete.
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Julie Yates Always known as "Yatty" Julie was with the team in the 80's. If I recall correctly Julie and Denise Woodward worked up in Leeds and had come to the team as a mutually supportive couple. When Julie married and started a family the spare time for dancing came to an end. However whilst no longer dancing, throughout the time the team was using the Methodist Hall as a base Julie was there in the background as a member of the hall committee even if no longer a dancer. Still living in Horbury Julie can now continue her friendship with Denise as she has moved back up North, though Julie tells us that Denise now prefers to be known as Susan.
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Andrew Zagorsky Andrew came as driver for Jean, his wife. Given the Continental surname it was no surprise that Andrew has style of a rather roué European aristocrat. A more than talented fiddle player Andrew could at times move the instrument into the realms of a violin, whilst on accordion his style could at times evoke visions of a Parisian café. On a trip to the Saltburn Festival Andrew endeared himself to absolutely no one when he opted to quit the shared sleeping space in favour of some peace and quiet; leaving his alarm clock behind. Whether by design or accident the alarm went off in the early hours and rather than a bell or chime tone emitted a basic “moo” if memory serves. Given that Andrew included animal husbandry as part of his work at the Camphill Community the alarm was an apt if unwelcome disturbance to the morning.
Andrew can still be found playing the violin/fiddle for the Rhubarb Tarts and also at sessions around Yorkshire.
Jean Zagorsky Jean came up one day as we were dancing in Holmfirth and asked if we were open to recruiting an extra musician. Given that we were generally reliant on Chris Walker’s stalwart services having an addition sounded good. So along came Jean and before long we also found husband Andrew adding to the wall of sound, though compared to the massed ranks of the 21st Century we should probably think of a picket fence of sound.
Jean and Andrew worked at the Camphill Community out at Hall Green and arranged invites for the tea m to the open day event, which became pretty much of a fixture for us. The fact that Jean provided light refreshments after the dancing was an added incentive.
Jean was a story teller and one of the fixed items in her year was trip to Shropshire for a story tellers festival. With the passing of time Jean and Andrew separated and went their own ways. Sadly Jean died in February 2015.
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