September 2015          A NEWSLETTER           No. 142


Forty years ago, in 1975, I was just off to Spain for my year abroad as an English Assistant at the teacher training college in Pontevedra. At that point I was a new convert to Scottish Country Dancing, having begun in January 1975 at Leeds University, and then continuing for another term at the Brudenell Evening Institute with Brenda Burnell. I didn’t know a lot about Scottish dancing at that point, and only knew that I loved it; one warm evening, later, I taught some Spanish friends to dance skip-change of step, and we all linked arms and skipped down the “paseo”.

Forty years ago, some rather more knowledgeable and even more enthusiastic Scottish Dancers met together with the intention of forming a branch. With such success, may I say, that here we are 40 years later, still a Branch, with several classes and groups under the aegis of the Branch, several trained and qualified teachers, a dance every month somewhere in the area during the season, and with Broun’s Reel, our Newsletter, at edition no. 142. That first committee of the Branch consisted of Malcolm Brown as Chairman, Helen Brown as Secretary, and Ken Wright as Treasurer; other committee members were Jessie Dawson, Florence Dubovsky, Jock McVey, George Main, Trevor Tillotson and Bernard Trever. It seems fitting that Malcolm, the first Chairman and co-proposer of the branch, should be the person to draw our celebrations together in the 40th Anniversary Booklet and that Helen, the first secretary, is secretary today.

We have come a long way in that time, and many of the founding members are no longer with us. Another 40 years on, and where will we be? I won’t be dancing, for sure, unless miracles happen in care and medicine for the elderly to enable us to keep dancing even as centenarians. It would be great to think though that in 40 years’ time there is still a thriving branch – perhaps by then they’ll have got rid of that clunky and anachronistic “North Humberside” bit of the name! It would be even better to think that the branch had grown, and that the Cottingham and Willerby classes were looking for bigger premises.

The RSCDS has been aware of the need to promote Scottish Country dancing among younger people in recent years, developing “Spring Fling” that many of you will have seen in your copies of the “Scottish Country Dancer”, and developing its Youth Committee. Further initiatives have included work with schools, e.g. enabling staff to include dancing on the curriculum even when the teachers have not danced before, and medal tests as per ballroom dancing have been introduced. But then there is that other group to crack – the late teens to thirties – how can we make SCD seem cool in their eyes? Somebody really cool has to be seen dancing Scottish! (someone from Django Django or a Cally Thistle footballer?) (No – not even they would be cool enough.) For too long we have let an image of SCD as belonging to older people persist!

One of the remarkable things at St Andrews this year was the number of younger people (30s and under) at the Thursday night dance in the Younger Hall. The centre line in some of my photos and memories is dominated by younger people and the name “Younger” Hall does not seem a misnomer. And they danced with such energy and accuracy and (especially) FUN! It was great to see and be there with them. They included St. Andrews students and ex-students, RSCDS younger staff, and others not on the course.

The Society in general is starting to put things right and to look to the future by attending to its younger membership. I think that locally we must do the same: then hopefully Scottish Dancing in our area will be alive and kicking in 40 years’ time.

Joyce Cochrane

HAPPY RETURNS (a geography lesson)

Across the Sound of Harris, avoiding Staffin Harvest

From Scotia’s Shores We’re Noo Awa’

I on a Flight to Melbourne

You to make Links With St Petersburg

I met Australian Ladies

While you danced the Kandahar Reel

I enjoyed Gothenburg’s Welcome

While you made a Trip to Bavaria

I spurned a Swiss Lassie

And you an Irish Rover

I climbed Glastonbury Tor

While you tried the Westminster Reel

I misplaced the Lass of Richmond Hill

While you travelled the Outer Circle

I crossed the Snake Pass

While you admired Nottingham Lace

I went to Scarborough Castle

While you made a Tribute to the Borders

I followed a Highland Rambler

While you met the Cooper of Fife

I came South from Oban

While you did something or other with Lothian Lads

I walked the Lammermuir Hills

While you picked Flowers of Edinburgh

I reached EH3 7AF

As you ran to Twelve Coates Crescent

We’d A Moment of Truth, such Joie de Vivre!

I said, Follow Me Home to Good Hearted Glasgow

You said, Oh, A Happy Meeting; may we ever Gang the Same Gate...

(Pretty trite, but at least we haven’t hasted to the wedding, not even with Mairi!)  

Veronica Wallace, York


A Special Day – June 2nd 2015 was one such. I had been invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace as part of the Centenary Celebrations of the Women’s Institute in Britain, along with 8,000 other members. After an early start our coach arrived in The Mall, and following a strict security check (my bus pass proving very useful!) we emerged through the palace, down the steps and into the garden.

Two military bands played throughout the whole afternoon, and I had a long walk round the enormous gardens, the lake, the tennis court, and rose gardens. Thankfully the weather was kind, but eventually I had to carry my hat as the wind was very strong; someone’s hat was seen flying over the top of the band stand! The catering was fantastic, so well organized and efficient. I just had to have a cucumber sandwich at Buckingham Palace, together with a tremendous selection of bite-sized cakes and the inevitable cup of tea.

The Royal ladies were difficult to see with so many WI members around, but I got an excellent view, on the front row, when they emerged from the Royal Tea Tent. Camilla looked superb in navy and cream, Sophie in black and white, and Princess Alexandra in green. In fact I stood next to a Yeoman of the Guard, who was resplendent in his immaculate uniform. As the “Royals” passed us we spontaneously broke into “Jerusalem”, which I thought very fitting for the occasion.

At 5 p.m. the military Band struck up the National Anthem, which indicated that this was the end of a very memorable day, and a late arrival home.

Elizabeth MacDonald, York.


Scottish dancing with around 150 people on a large school field on a sunny afternoon in July.....  Why was I so nervous? 

Maybe because the festival has been a major part of the Scottish dancing calendar for over 60 years – this was the 61st White Rose Festival.  The dancing is of a very high standard with around 23 teams from all over the country - and it was my first time. Would I remember the steps, or make a mistake? Could I dance on the grass, would I fall over? My son Joe was making a short documentary film - it didn't help my nerves when he kept hovering with his camera.

Our team formed after the Harrogate weekend when I realised that we had at least 10 keen dancers who lived at the eastern side of the Branch.  I had only ever been a spectator at the White Rose Festival and had always wanted to take part so our application was sent off and we waited for the list of dances and cribs.

George Edwards agreed to be our leader and coach. Joyce and George covered the dances in the weekly classes and we dutifully turned up for four team intensive practice sessions. Huge thanks must go to George. He trained us with military precision, patience and some laughs too.

The day arrived and thankfully it wasn’t raining!  We all gathered with our garden chairs and picnics, the ladies wearing black skirts and tops which showed off our sashes beautifully, the men looking handsome as ever in their outfits. Having only three men and six women, I offered to dance as a man, a decision which was now exacerbating my nervousness.

The piper struck up a tune and we made our way to the side of the field for the Grand March and Opening Ceremony. Taking our places in the centre of the field we prepared to dance Farewell to Auchterarder. The wonderful sound of Neil Barron wafted across the field and we began.  My legs were trembling and, yes, I did make the first mistake but managed to cover it up. The camaraderie on our team was wonderful, calling instructions, all helping, supporting and encouraging each other. 

What had I been worried about? The first dance was wonderful and I wanted to stay on now for every dance! As the teams rotated their positions on the field we were at the front for the next two dances and Joe managed to get some good close-up footage of our steps.

We danced our way through 12 dances and two demonstration dances – Rose of Glamis and The Dancing Master. In between it was a delight to watch the Highland and Step displays.

After more picnic we changed outfits for the evening dance – another three hours of dancing – and I made it to the end.

Scottish dancing with around 150 people on a large school field on a sunny afternoon in July….a thoroughly joyful experience! 

Lynne Brooks, Cottingham


Looking at the photo, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was another wet day for a walk – in fact, it wasn’t, just cold and grey, but we were walking through some wet undergrowth! 11 of us did a circular walk around Millington, and really enjoyed the varied walk and the company. As Jean and I have often said, Scottish country dancers are really nice people! The walk was just the right length to get us back to Millington in time to get to our lunch, and on the final stretch the skies brightened and life felt very good.

We were joined by a further 5 or 6 people for the lunch at Kilnwick Percy Golf Club, which was very good, and we had plenty of time to sit and chat. Some people seemed to have HUGE portions, but I was lucky and my fish and chips was very good, and a manageable portion size. We had fantastic views down the valley from the dining room – we could see for miles around, with those big skies that the Wolds is so good at. Even better, since I was replete and slightly sleepy, I didn’t have to drive home; I’d had a really good time out, and I’m sure we all had.

Many thanks to Alan and Jean Swearman for organizing the whole thing.



My feet hurt. My Achilles tendons, although not quite the peculiar shape they were when I got home, may never be entirely the same again. I ache all over and I didn’t think it was possible for calves to be quite this sore. Oddly my dodgy knee isn’t doing too badly, but then it has spent much of the last week in a knee brace. When I parked outside our house on Sunday afternoon I was so stiff that I had to phone Richard to come out and help me out of the car. I spent at least an hour in a boiling hot bath (three refills) and I was so tired that I was in bed by eight o’clock. I will draw a veil over the next morning, simply offering my grateful thanks to the man who invented “Deep Heat”. I still haven’t recovered.


I am late setting off and the journey up was slow, so it is five o’clock by the time I get here and unload. I know Joyce and Ken and Carol will be about somewhere, but for now I need peace, quiet and a mug of tea. (Yorkshire: I brought my own supplies). The room is comfortable, reasonably roomy. Not ensuite, but there are three shower rooms across the corridor and, joy of joys, I have a wash basin. After unpacking I sip my tea and work my way through the information pack they have given me. It looks busy. As well as my morning classes, I can spend my afternoons learning step, highland or doing a walk through of the evening dances. There are dances every night except Friday. I remember what Helen and Di have said to me: “Don’t do too much - pace yourself. You want to last the week.”


A map is included with information pack. This is necessary – there are classes in at least nine different locations across St Andrews, and some of them are a fifteen minute walk from University Hall, where we are staying. Mind you, I am not very fit and need to be careful to warm up properly, so the walk will be useful. It feels slightly nervous, sitting in the Victory Hall putting our shoes on. There are twenty people in my class, a combination of beginners and intermediate. I know none of them but that will change over the next few days. Marion Anderson is playing for us! Anne Robertson, our teacher is in her early sixties, I guess (though I find you can’t really tell dancers’ ages). She is small, from Glasgow and has a very dry sense of humour. We are working hard but there’s a lot of laughter too – and the music is out of this world.


It’s often the small things which give greatest pleasure. I brought some fruit up with me in a Tupperware container. Emptied it turns out to be just the right size for both feet. Add hot water and Radox for instant ecstasy. Over halfway through the week now, and the feet are beginning to be a bit sore - as is everything else!  I limp to the shower room in the morning and think I’ll never manage to dance in class, and then I get there and the music starts and everything feels fine. A different teacher for the second half of the week. Mary Murray is from Canada, though originally Scottish. She is tiny, softly spoken, very gentle – and without us realising it, works us even harder than Anne did. George Meikle is playing for us – more wonderful music. My classmates are a delight – from all over the UK, indeed all over the world. We work well together in class, everyone helps everyone else, and it’s fun to dance with them in the evenings. Last night I chose to go to the Ceilidh rather the Country Dance (though people were popping between the two) and I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for years.


Driving home, I feel slightly ashamed of myself. I had intended to spend the morning in St Andrews but after a wonderful cooked breakfast (something I’ve been promising myself all week) I decided to cut and run. My feet are hurting and I’ve a long journey home is what I said, but I wasn’t being completely honest. The truth was that, ridiculously, when I looked round at this wonderful group of people I’ve spent the last

seven days getting to know and realised I’d got to say goodbye to them, a lump came into my throat and I could feel the tears rising. So I bottled it. Waved my goodbyes and headed off. Doesn’t matter: I’ve got everyone’s e-mail address as I’ve promised to send round cribs for all the dances we learned in class. And Pat’s sending us our class photo. Maybe I’ll go to the day school in Cockermouth in October. Richard and I were thinking of going to Cyprus for a week in the spring and Pat’s group dance in Nicosia, so I can meet up with her then. Mary-Elizabeth’s given us a standing invitation to visit her in Florida. And I’ll see some of them at Summer School next year. Week 3. It’s not good-bye.


My feet hurt. My Achilles tendons, although not quite the peculiar shape they were when I got home, may never be entirely the same again.

I may never be entirely the same again.

I have no intention of recovering.

Rachel White, Cottingham