NEWS ITEM

2015 SQUIRE’S APPRAISAL


BY PATRICK COUSINS

Jonathan Nibbs and Patrick Cousins holding "The Squire’s Shield".

2015 proved to be a full and rewarding year for Holt Morris, with a full and varied dance programme.

Bradford Roots Festival (Bradford-on-Avon,) Wimborne Folk Festival, The Village Pump and Swanage were all festivals at which we performed.

BRADFORD ROOTS FESTIVAL is a recent addition to our festival performance portfolio and is particularly welcome as it is the nearest to our village and involves mainly local performers. Particularly pleasing, is the procession of children led by us to the foyer of The Wiltshire Music Centre, dressed in their own workshopped creations, where we perform with their help, our "Wassail" presentation with full and enthusiastic audience participation.

WIMBORNE FOLK FESTIVAL always brings about a mass exodus from the village for a communal camping weekend. The crowds were out in force and the weather stayed fair. Meeting "Bourne River," old cotswolding friends meant cementing friendships and exchanges of dance routines. The welcome at Wimborne has always been a warm one and the long procession on the Saturday again gave ample scope for us to pose before our ardent fans, presenting them with exciting "photo opportunities."

A key factor in the longevity of Holt Morris has always been our concern to be inclusive, so that wives and families form an integral part of our village morris side. To this end the Wimborne Festival has been at the core of our dance programme over the years, with the majority of the side and their families making use of the fine caravanning and camping facilities at "WilksworthFarm" to make the event an even more enjoyable one.

THE VILLAGE PUMP festival, has a new location in the lee of the "Westbury White Horse" which provides a perfect festival setting with good flat camping areas. The weather was 50/50-ish but did not prevent vigorous performances from ourselves, the "Widders Morris" and "White Horse Morris." On the Sunday, due to the rain, we were forced to perform in the main bar tent. Some hardship! Conditions were crowded and communications were difficult, but we all managed to put on brave faces to dance with customary vigour before our enthusiastically-involved audience, before deservedly partaking of the revival medicine on offer.

SWANAGE FOLK FESTIVAL used to be a regular on our list of events, but in recent years we have been struggling to put out a side. So it was gratifying that this year we could attend with sufficient numbers to allow the sea air and fish and chips to work their usual magic. Again, a friendly festival in a beautiful setting.

Pub outings always give us a lift. Can’t think why and this year was no different, with one of the highlights being a visit to " The Three Magpies" at Sells Green. It was a beautiful evening and a large crowd including two horses and their riders, gave us plenty of encouragement. The landlady is always friendly and generous in her support of both our dancing and our musical "afters," with locals and canal-boat holiday-makers alike joining in with gusto. (The ale is pretty good too!)

I must finish by making mention of the terrific improvement by our new members, James Bob and Tim. James and Bob started out without any knowledge of morris-dancing and have taken to it like "ducks to water." Tim, having the advantage of coming from a morris-dancing family and having significant dance experience into the bargain has, however, had to wrestle with and accommodate to Holt Morris’s unique slow dancing style. All three have integrated well into the side, and with their partners and families have enjoyed the camaraderie while caravanning and camping with us at this year’s festivals.

All in all it has been another busy and enjoyable year. So.... if you feel you may enjoy being part of "The Holt Morris Experience," either as a dancer or musician, then contact us via this website, or COME ALONG to meet us each Thursday at 20.00 hrs. at The Mount Pleasant Social Club, Bradford-on-Avon.

Patrick Cousins, retiring Squire of Holt Morris, 2015.

(Patrick’s appraisal is the written form of a rather wonderful speech he gave at our recent "Ladies’ Night" dinner at "The Somerset Arms" at Semington, where he also presented the "Squire’s Shield" to Stephen Tucker for his dedication to the side over our entire existence and his friendship throughout. Jonathan Nibbs accepted the award on behalf of Steve in his enforced absence. See photo attached. Ed.)