Every year Holt Morris dancers and musicians take their partners to dinner to say “thank you” for being allowed out regularly and coming back in poor shape as often as not.
This year’s dinner, at The Old Ham Tree, was long on amiability and short on speeches – just the way we like it. Patrick Cousins received the Transparency Award from the out-going Squire, Terry Hopkins, and from that point on all your reporter can remember is a full tummy and a gentle alcoholic haze . . .
( As a matter of record, Patrick’s award, in the gift of the squire, was, of course, for his outstanding contribution to the well-being of the side during Squire Hopkins’ year of tenure, albeit that in his capacity as "Communications Co-ordinator", Patrick had been instrumental in developing transparency within the squad, as Terry had alluded to in his pithy retiring address to the assembled company. Ed.)
2014 was a special year for Holt Morris as we had reached our 25th anniversary with the majority of the original members still reasonably active - as active as increase in age allows.
We started the year with a wassailing event at the annual Roots Festival in January at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon. This is a charity event that raises funds for local causes. In May we had our annual outing to The Bath and West Show with a couple of performances on "The Village Green" and a spot in The Cider Tent around a wassail tree in a bucket, yet to bear fruit.
The Summer programme included our usual music festivals: Holt Music Festival, Wimborne Folk Festival and the local Village Pump Folk Festival under the horse at Westbury. To add to the year’s excitement we absconded for a weekend in July to Beer in Devon for an anniversary "boys" celebration of our 25 years. We caused over-excitement among the holiday-makers in Sidmouth with our performance on the promenade, and created gridlock in the village of Branscombe. (Well we held a car up for a couple of minutes by dancing in the road outside the pub - where else ?!)
We extended our anniversary celebrations into September by holding a Day of Dance in Bradford-on-Avon, followed by a ceilidh in Holt Village Hall in the evening. Our guests for the day were Angel Morris, Priston Jubilee Morris, Hips and Haws and Belles Angels. Following a somewhat hectic day’s dancing, through Bryan’s good offices, we were able to entertain some of our guests with a trip on a canal barge, before they were transported to the village for supper and dancing, brilliant food courtesy of Jo Hopkins and Karen Cousins, brilliant music courtesy of Colin (Wyatt) and his band Thingamygig.
In November we danced in some of the pubs in Bradford-on-Avon to raise monies for Children in Need. raising the glorious sum of £475. As befits our age, no-one can remember how many years we have doing our "Children in Need" thing, but we guess that, over the years, we have raised about £6000 for this annual cause.
Our 2014 ended with our providing entertainment for our sponsor, "The Box Steam Brewery" at their annual Christmas event, leading the carol singing at our annual "party" at The Mount Pleasant Club, Bradford-on-Avon (where we practice on Thursday evenings) and entertaining the general village populus as we danced around the village on Boxing Day, ending our rigorous performance schedule with a well-earned afternoon of refreshment at The Old Ham Tree.
All in all we had an enjoyable 25th. anniversary year, and we are even looking forward to another active and enjoyable year of dance in 2015. Watch the space to the right!
BRADFORD-ON-AVON ROOTS FESTIVAL
Recipe to warm up a cold January afternoon
- 1 Bradford Roots Festival
- 7 Holt Morris dancers
- 4 musicians
- 30 children
- 1 small apple tree
- 2 pieces of toast
- A dash of cider
- 1 very small princess
- Free beer
Thoroughly mix the children and the dancers in a vigorous Shepherd’s Hey workshop.
Get the Lass of Richmond Hill to complete the warming-up process and Highland Mary to chase away any unwanted chickens.
Infuse the mix with good spirits by Wassailing the tree with toast and cider, helped by the princess. Stir up with The Rose in a neat circular motion with the tree in the middle and pour into the heart of the Festival.
Whilst the mixture settles, occupy the dancers with beer and singing Happy Birthday to Chrissie who raised the tree.
Sprinkle the children lightly into another Shepherd’s Hey and watch the whole creation rise to a lovely conclusion.
Consume hot, with as much beer as is found to be necessary.