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.
****** A ******Helen Abel I may be a bit hazy here but if memory serves this is the Helen of "Dave and Helen". A great party giver in the brief time she was with us Helen and Dave were great value as dancers. I seem to recall it was health issues that limited their time with the team . It may not be entirely unconnected that the last time I saw them was at Warwick Folk Festival in the mid noughties where they were promoting the benefits of aloe vera in alternative medicines.
Terry Addison Like the sands of the desert Terry came and went over the years. There from the very earliest years he disappeared for a few years, then re-appeared and just stepped back into the set as if he'd never been away. And he went away and he came back. And then he went and now we're not sure where he is.
Doreen Allsop Always there when needed Doreen and husband John were a part of the core team in the 80's. Doreen last seen at the Heath on Boxing Day 2009 still looking cheerful
Jan Anderson It's back to the 80's to track down Jan. A photo used for publicity shows a cheerful smiling Jan posing with the team at the Elizabethan Gallery in Wakefield. This was part of a visit by the German dance side Danzdeel Hanover and if memory serves we got the Elizabethan Galley gig via our Corinne who was with Wakefield Art Gallery at the time. Again if memory serves Jan actually used real flowers in her headband which set a precedent which never caught on with the other girls.
Chris Aram If the phrase "petite and pretty" were used as a description of a Wakefield woman the field would not be narrowed down much as most of the lasses fitted that bill. Chris was therefore a petite and pretty addition who danced with us in the late 80's. A marriage break up during her time with us was survived and for a time Chris and Pete Cretney were an "item". However somewhere, somehow the challenges of being a mum to two growing kids whilst trying to forge a new life meant something had to give. Sadly for us it was the dancing and a lovely smile was lost.
Chris contacted us in early 2013 to say that she was now happily settled in Kefalonia with a new husband though not Peter Cretney. Chris wrote "If you ever want to visit sunny Kefalonia we have 2 self catering apartments sleeping 8 -10 people in total. Please see our web site for details. We have been here nearly 7 years now and specialise in holidays with disabled access - but no you don't need a wheelchair to visit us!"
So there you go any of the old lags fancy a trip? Chris still has her clogs and bells so with 7 and a musician it could be a team trip down memory lane. In 2016 a team of Wakefield dancers did head down to the sunshine, mind you it was the Rhubarb Tarts who went to provide some input to a dance side that Chris has started out there. Chris Walker, Liz Harwood, June O'Brian, Corinne Miller were just some of the former NW side who went out. Somewhere along the way they even roped in Trefor Owen!
****** B ******Derek Bacon - Rumour has it that Derek originally came along to our practise nights to bring Tony who was too young to drive. Once he started dancing Derek became the metronome of the team, always relied on to be back on the beat and on the mark. Always danced up at number 2 and had the highest kick in the business. Fit as a lop as they say up North, Derek started a days dancing with a run before breakfast. We conned him into dancing at a "charity" event that was actaully his 60th birthday party. Danced on for a couple of years then retired to "do things he still had to do". Currently an authority on bonzai and still to be found working at a bonsai nursery part time when last seen at a "Mighty Doonan's" concert in Wakefield Cathedral on St Andrews Day 2013.
Hilda Bacon - Practioner of alternate therapies and our very own Lancashire Lass. Lover of yoga and meditation Hilda kept Derek and Tony in order and could reduce grown men to tears just by massaging their feet. If you don't believe me you should have asked Ken who would testify to the effectiveness of the therapy.
Tony Bacon - Came along to offer his skills as a musician and found that Trefor insisted that to play for the team you had to know how to dance. Once that was sorted Tony became the ace musician who set the bedrock of the tunes we use to the present day. Stayed with us through his college years thanks to many miles of driving by Derek to get to and from college to our various gigs. Currently keyboard player for the "Solicitors" band alongside Mick Doonan and Bobby Thomas. These three were part of the "Shrogys" ceildh band.
Jerry Barnes - Of the Barnes family last known as having left to live on an island off the Scottish coast
Sue Barron The delightful red head with I think we would all agree absolutely no sense of direction. That is for getting from A to B by car rather than when dancing. The introduction of the Leeds Loop system induced a near nervous breakdown. Whether it was this or some other event Sue eventually moved to Beverly. Though she has now moved back towards Leeds we gather.And she must be back in Leeds as Doug and Meg bumped into her there in December 2010.
Niall Barrow Niall can rightly claim to have been with the team since before he was born as his Mum took time off dancing to bring Niall and his twin Dan into the world. Rock solid as a dancer and a big help in bringing down the average age of the team Niall has for some years tried to replace Malcom at the back of the set - without much success - yet! By 2013 Niall had become the squire and was also dancing with the Rhubarb Tarts, Wayzgoose and setting up as a musician with Briggate, not bad for a quiet lad then. And by 2015 Niall was also performing NW with the Slubbing Billys and Appalachian with Feet and Fiddles. Of course some of the earlier loyalties may have strayed or fallen by the wayside but in the true spirit of the Morris tart it may be that Nial is still in contact with all of them!
However by 2014 Niall had decided that the changes to tunes, figures and tempos were not worth the candle and had decided to take up NW with the Slubbing Billys rather than persevere with Wakefield. What I would call a bummer given that Niall's years of dancing with the team were a tribute to the qualities that made the team truly great.
Anne Bennison Came to the team to satisfy a long held desire to dance and quickly became a rock steady dancer. Then set out to satisfy another ambition to become a nurse and again achieved that ambition. Now dancing with the "Rhubarb Tarts" and occaisionally with Wakefield.
Robin Bennison Like quite a few of the chaps Robin got roped in when Anne joined us. A talented musician Robin also performed as a dancer though injuries put an end to this before too long. Held the onerous post of secretary for a year or so. Now still in the world of traditional dance as a musician for the "Rhubarb Tarts". 2014 -Update With Simon and Sarah now involved with Wakefield Robin and Ann are on duty as childminders for the grandchildren. Or at least when seen at Warwick FF this year. Robin now adding Bee-keeping and allotment gardening to his skills!
Late 2016 and Simon Haig the squire of Wakefield Morris, known as "Bennie" to his mates, told us that his mum and dad were now spending most of their time out in Lancashire enjoying the caravan they have over there. Later in the year Simon passed on the news that Robin has a throat cancer which is up for treatment. Robin says its the same form of cancer that Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden had and since Bruce is still with us then it looks good for Robin. Here's hoping it all goes well.
Sadly Robin died on the night 4/5th October 2017, Simon Haig says it was peaceful and that Anne was with him when he went. The throat cancer was responding but in Robin's words "I must have backed over a nun somewhere" since it turned out he also had rectal cancer. Again he was positive taking the view that being treated for one cancer they had caught the other before it spread too far.
There will be no funeral as apparently Robin just wanted to go without any fuss, so all those of us who knew him can do is remember a chap who fought a lot of demons in his life and was always on the up side of the curve. For me a fond memory is the Winter Gardens at Cleethorpes when Robin reckoned he didn't merit a place in the set for a ceildh spot and I did. Like I always said it's not about being the best dancer it's about being part of a team. My accolade from the audience is "I love watching Wakefield because you always look happy in each others company". So gone but never forgotten my friend Robin.
Peter Bentley. The elegant and courteous Peter, with a dress sense that made the rest of us feel generally scruffy. Peter numbered amongst his claims to fame the fact that he was responsible for the dying of Jimmy Savilles hair in a tartan pattern. With the benefit of hindsight perhaps this is not such a notable claim after all.
Ian Booth. Ken Martin's brother-in-law and dad to Tracey and Lisa. Ian joined the team after coming over to Germany with us and his daughters. Ian's greatest claim to fame in the annals is that after months spent learing Gisburn in the hall he got a chance to do it as a real processional during a visit to Carlisle Sword and Morris. So of we went with just one small problem, as the rest of the team processed forward Ian danced backwards - just as he'd done in the hall! Body memory is a wonderful thing and really REALLY hard to break!
Lisa Booth Ian’s younger daughter who was one of the early mascot/centres for the team.
Tracey BoothIan’s elder daughter who was a mainstay dancer in the early years. At some point the call of education, marriage or motherhood lured Tracey away from the world of traditional dance. But thanks to her Aunt Aileen we know were we can find Tracey if the need arises!
Debbie Bradfield The delightful Debbie came along with Ray and enlivened our lives whenever she was about. Fondest memory? Debbie on the beach at Bridlington running bare foot through the waves and just celebrating the joy of being.
Ray Bradfield Talented musician and songwriter who came to the team when Tony Bacon's college commitments meant he was in short supply. If my memory is right it was Liz Higgs who came up with Ray as a musician she knew with Hoddeson Crownsmen from her days with Hertfordshire Holly. As well as being a terrific musician Ray could hold an audience in thrall when he picked up a guitar. Last seen a few years ago when he turned up at the Birdsedge village concerts as a booked turn.
Doug Bradshaw Been around forever so it seems. Team leader, dance master, PR man are all things he has done over the years. A fund of stories about the team’s history and if you don’t move quickly he’ll tell you – for hours. Oh and for a few years he was the editor of the The Morris Federation Newsletter. Stopped dancing in 2010.
Meg Bradshaw Listen for the sound of laughter in the team and that’s generally were you would find Meg. One time women’s leader, then team leader and latterly team secretary Meg bought her talents of organisation and tact to the job. But most of all she bought the sheer joy of dancing. Even major surgery on her spine could not stop her. The sight of Meg and Derek at the head of a set was magical. When not dancing Meg was often the target for Gerry’s wine spilling tendency leading to her packing a souwester in her kit on occasions. When in company with Mo, Gerry and Barbara these four could generate energy in excess. The appearance of a second spinal tumour finally ended Meg’s dancing days but she still kept on as secretary until Doug stood down as dance master when it was assumed that Meg had also stood down! If the team old hands get together Meg is often there so listen for the laughter and there you’ll find her.
Judith Buck The good Doctor Buck. That’s a doctor of chemistry not a medical doctor in case you were wondering. Once took a tumble at practice and recieved the advice "NW is a bit like National Hunt racing, if you fall roll in ball and get out of the way or they'll just dance over you". With us for a few years during which she got married. We danced at the reception I seem to recall - at a Conservative club. Then along came the kids and Judith drifted away.
John Bullen John was a box player with us for one season. If memory serves it was on a Kirtlington Lamb Ale that on the Saturday tour we had a boat trip on the canal. Due to the size of the boat some of the party were walking alongside on the tow path including John. After some time those on the boat were surprised to see John overhauling the narrow boat in a canoe! Apparently he had charmed a passing canoeist into the loan of his craft - what style!
****** C ******Anita Carr Anita was with us for just one season, travelling up from Sheffield for Monday nights practice. Apparently Anita has resurfaced as a dancers with the “Rhubarb Tarts” in recent years.
George Chambers Big George, big of heart and big of stature. George, one time squire, was part of the team for many years and as well as NW also danced with Castleford Long Sword. Having danced all day George would then head for the nearest ceildh taking Jenny and often “a.n.other” to act as partner when Jenny wanted a break! Playford is a speciality for George and once at the Folk Around the Wrekin we were tasked with a dance spot at a Playford dance. Having done our usual spirited three dance spot we were feeling a little deflated at the low key reception. But as we were dancing off to polite applause a voice was heard to murmur “Very precise stepping”, at which George explained that for a Playford crowd this was the equivalent of a Mexican Wave.
George filled in his time when not working at the pit or dancing by doing some coach driving. This being more than useful on several occasions when the team needed to hire coaches for trips. The most memorable being a trip to Germany where George and his fellow driver delighted in putting the coach into the tightest of spots, often reversing in, to the amazement of out German hosts. Even on one occasion getting a standing ovation for a particular tricky reverse.
Noticing one night that George had a wire or two trailing back to a waist pack I suggested that bringing a Walkman to practise was a bit trendy. “Oh it’s not a Walkman, it’s a heart monitor old lad” came the reply. As George so neatly put it “Your start out needing an hours rest after a days dancing. Then you need a days rest. When you need a weeks rest it’s time to think of slowing down.”
Now splitting his time between Yorkshire and Spain George and of course Jenny are still around and can always be found at Whitby Folk Week in August. Boxing Day 2016 George and Jenny were up on Heath Common for the first Christmas in the UK in 15 years. In a brief conversation it seems seems they have sold the house in Spain and George has acquired a new knee.
Jenny Chambers Introduced to the team by George (I think), who soon married her, Jenny was the model of a quiet dependable dancer. For a few years Jenny and Doreen could be relied on to turn out for any and almost every gig, big or small, they just enjoyed being out dancing. When George finally hung up his clogs to concentrate on the more leisurely long sword tradition, Jenny continued to turn out with Wakefield. Even after they retired to Spain for the winter months Jenny stayed in touch via the wonders of the Internet and still put on the clogs for the occasional dance out. Only with the changes to long established dances did Jenny decide to call it a day and hang up her own clogs in favour of the lighter footwork of Playford.
Peter Cretney Two or maybe three seasons was the time Pete was with us. Introduced to the team by Chris Aram, Pete and Chris were an “item” for a while. Just where and when Peter stopped dancing is one of many small mysteries – though theories do exist!
Mike Crofts Mike was with us for about one season in the 1980's. His special talent was that he always travelled to dance outs by public transport. Even to the extent of turning down the offer of a lift if one of the team passed him waiting at the bus stop. I recall Mike turning up to a gala event out at Hartsead which we were doing as a favour to the Hartsead team as they were booked elsewhere that day. Getting there involved multiple buses and when offered a lift back to Wakefield Mike still stuck to the bus option! Thanks to Fiona Roberts (nee Wynn ex-Persephone!) for supplying the missing surname for Mike who she is trying to contact.
Jenny Cropp A dancer with the renowned Chinewerde side from down south Jenny came onto the radar about the time that Tony Bacon was at college and extra musicians were in great demand. So it was known as much as a musician as a dancer with the side. The fact that Trefor Owen had taught Chinewerde many of the dances in the Wakefield repertoire made playing and dancing with the side as cinch for Jenny.
Still around the wonderful world of traditional dance Jenny can often be found where ever the massed ranks of the Chinewerde side are found. Though in recent years with more emphasis on the musical side of the performance. Most likely spot to track Jenny down – try the Warwick Folk festival where Chinewerde are pretty much a resident side. In 2014 Jenny was at Warwick FF and still playing for the Chinewerde side, and also saving space for the arrival of Elaine Pollard and Martin Ord coming up from Devon in their brand new caravan.
Sue Crouch See "Sue Mawby", as she is since she married Mark.
Yvonne Culpan Arrived with her friend Ann Lister to sample the delights of traditional dance. Yvonne was a great contributor for the short time she danced with us. The best memory I have is an event down at Stanley Ferry, where conditions went from drought to flood over the two days. On the first day flying dust blinded us. On the second we were squelching through mud. We took to awarding points for “the least suitable footwear”, the winner being a pair of white court shoes. Though an honourable mention went to the lad who walked out of his trainers in a really boggy puddle and just abandoned them.
Sheltering in the pub Dave Newton announced he was so wet he might as well go wind surfing as there seemed little prospect of any dancing. Some time later we decided that the maxim that if it was raining we would only get wet once should be proven – again. So out we went and two figures into the dance both Yvonne and Ann took an injury as they had seized up whilst sitting in the pub. Cold, wet, dust in the eyes, injuries – could this have any relevance to the decision to give up dance? Yvonne was last heard of as the practise manager down at Horbury health centre.
****** D ******Kathryn Davies Came all the way from Pudsey with her friend Helen. Through long Monday nights they built up the four dances needed to dance out. And they actually made it for one short part of a season. The most memorable occasion, for me, was at the Navigation at Calder Grove, down on the canal. Apart from a really lousy dance spot the bugs were biting really well. Maybe that was the turn off? Or was it the pressure of starting up on her own as a chiropodist? The truth is out there but may never be found.
Francis Doonan. It seems that the delightful Fran could not be held back from showing that anything mum can do Fran can do as well. This is of course before opening her higher education by aiming for Trinity College Dublin, not renowned as gaining support from the UK government. Then introducing Irish dance and traditional music to South America via workshops and her own radio programme. Then leading the Francis Doonan Big Band on a Far Eastern tour. Getting married, producing two grandchildren for Mick and Mo to baby sit over in Andorra etc. etc. Does hyperactive even begin to cover it?
Maureen Doonan Mo was amongst the early members of the side, if not a founder member. Check out the photo gallery for proof. When not acting as social secretary to the Doonan Family band, baby sitting for Steve or Fran or in the early days producing another daughter Mo has been and continues to be a wonderful dancer. Somehow Mo would manage to fit in the trip to Rochester Sweeps as a regular outing. On one memorable trip faced with the news that “Horbury Processional” was not up to display standard Mo, Meg, Gerry and Barb decided otherwise. A bemused Tony Bacon provided the music as the foursome rattled through the dance to the amazement of the rest of the team. In fairness I should say that drink had been taken!
Again from the Rochester trips, one year it was noticed that at every appearance of the team two young chaps were front and centre in the audience. Speculation led to the two being referred to as “Mo and Gerry’s fan club. To the point that by Monday the team actually held up a display until Simon and Jameson Wooders appeared, and had been installed in the front of the crowd.
And it is Mo we have to thank for the setting of the Gisburn Street Dance to the tune of “Soul Man” as rendered by the North’s foremost Tamla Motown solid soul crew “The Solicitors”. Devised to be part of a dance extravaganza at Wakefield Opera house it was used on several occasions there and at other venues. Possibly most notably at Cleethorpes Folk Festival where prompted by Andrew Mullins the team opted for the “Soul Man” variant in a ceilidh spot. Using the dance as the finale we stormed it through and finished to enthusiastic applause, prompting Martin Harvey, MC and caller to comment “I have no idea what Cecil Sharpe would have made of that but I loved it!”
2016 was the year that Mo finally passed up the clogs and settled down to a gentle retirement. Though given the range and spread of the Doonan family and friends I'm not sure "quiet" is an apt description.
Mick Doonan Often found lurking around the crowd if Mo is out, Mick can usually be pressed into producing a piccolo to add that certain something to the band. However one display found a slight problem with Mick’s musical talents. The team had been asked to display at an Olf Folks Home for the 100th birthady of a resident. The problem was that our only musician at the time , Tony Bacon, was at college. We felt tapes or recording would not be the done thing so Mick was “persuaded” to offer his talents. So we all gathered on the night and discussed the display dances obviously Gisburn for starters. “So how does the tune go?” asked Mick. “Its Brighton Camp” came the reply. “No how does it go?” repeated Mick. “Hold on Tony left the notation, here you go it’s all on here”. “No good to me bonny lad that’s all tadpoles on telegraph wires to me I need to hear it” says Mick. At this point a full Morris team who had danced Gisburn so many times it was silly suddenly realised that no one had a clue how the tune went. Eventually the tune was wrestled out and even today as Gisburn starts up a voice will mutter “Starts out a bit like the Monty Python tune then wanders off”.
2015 update and Mo has finally decided to hang up her clogs, in fact to end all active dancing. Seems the years of NW Morris and Irish dance plus whatever else she got up to, there are rumours of dance work at Wakefield night spots in the early years, took their toll. The result was a syndrome which made walkign painful to the point where Mo would wear shoes to process with the choir at church then take the shoes off as soon as she got the the choir stalls. So with Mo now retired only Jown Earnshaw remains as an original team member, though given the years she's been around and the stalwart service in terms of dance outs done many assume Barbara Quinn is a founder. Though in fact she joined after the editor of this web site - strange but true!
Ian Downham Ian came to the team when he became romantically involved with Karen. So long ago now that I’m not sure what Karen’s surname was before she married. Ian is a proud East Anglian who plays a sweet violin, or fiddle to the folkies. However for many years Ian’s work as a countryside ranger/warden menat that at weekend he would be out bodging. That’s green woodcrafts for the ill informed. So if you ever need to learn about pole lathes or hurdle making you know who to ask. Mind you for botanical advice it might be wise to remember that one day Ian was commenting on a flower only for Karen to cone out with "Be fair Ian your flower identification boils down to the fact that if it's yellow it's probably a daffodil".
Karen Downham When Karen first danced with the team she was Karen Jones. Then she met Ian and before long they were married and had become parents. Karen and Ian in the early days were so eco-friendly it was a joy to behold. One high spot was when they become wild life officers at Grimethorpe, unlikely but I swear it is true. As part of the job Karen would visit the local school to fill the kids with the joys of the countryside and its flora and fauna. Now Ian was at the time long-haired and bearded and also given to patrolling the reserve area on a motor cycle. So he had acquired the local nickname of “Jesus on a bike”.
So one fine day Karen had done her bit at the school and finished up by asking for any questions. One young lass put her hand up to ask “Miss, are you the one who’s married to God?” Karen says she could hardly wait to get home and tell Ian he’d been promoted.
Parenting Ricky and Bob has kept the Downhams busy for more than a few years but they were still around at the Lincoln BIG festival in 2010.
****** E ******John Earnshaw John was a founder member of the side and a veteran of the teams visit to France in the first year or so. It was there that he and Sue Gray became a couple and eventually married. John was absent for some years whilst at university in Nottingham and after university working in Nottingham. Whilst at university John started a NW side “The Portland Polklers” and also started developing his own dances. One of these “Portland Hill” is part of the current teams repertoire. Returning to Yorkshire John was back with the team for many major festivals whilst also following an alternate hobby of campanology. That’s just bigger bells really.
****** F ******Rhona Ferguson In my mind's eye I see a blonde lass who was with the team for a short while in the 80's. Beyond that I draw a blank. Any help much appreciated.
****** G ******Mary Garside Mary came to us from Yorkshire Chandelier, just why this happened we never did quite work out. But Mary was most welcome for the time she was with us. One possible explanation for the transfer of allegiance may be that Mary was, and still is a slender wee thing. One evening Ken Martin produced a photo of the Chandeliers dancing and commented that Mary was no where to be seen. Mary looked at the photo of the generously proportioned Yorkshire lasses and then observed “Yes I’m there I’m the pair of legs behind that big lass in the front!”
Helen Garthwaite Arrived as a mate of Ruth Flint’s and gave us a couple of years before going her own way. Helen ran the record exchange in Wakefield market for many years. Always great fun to be with and with a big laugh, Helen took in good part some of the team pulling her leg about her Lancashire origins. Even to the extent of running an open house party at a Whitby event when the team were dancing and Helen had the use of a house there.
Seen in the crowd at the Beer Cart in 2014 and time for a short chat. Helen a happy lady and looking good so the benefits of dancing do pay off then.
John Gray Sue Earnshaw’s brother. John featured as a musician for the team in the early days and later as a regular member of the Shrogys Ceilidh Band for several years.
Josh Greaves With us as a musician for a year of so prior to going to university. Josh and his mate Joe managed to lower the average age of the team dramatically whilst simultaneously raising the IQ. Last heard of at Nottingham(?) University doing English, he must have graduated by now surely?
Sept 2014 - Via Ruth Flint I find that Josh has indeed graduated with a history degree. Then a spell in the teaching world which has now been supplanted by a career move into accountancy in the Newcastle area. I gather there is a girl involved here, i.e. Newcastle.
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