September 2018         A NEWSLETTER           No. 154


In the manner of supermarket advertising, this edition’s editorial could be described as “Buy One – Get One Free”. As with chocolate bars, though, the size seems reduced – what you are really getting is two mini-editorials.

First, I have been thinking lately about how proud I am to be a member of the RSCDS. I remember when I first began dancing in the Branch, and particularly when I first went to Summer School in 1987, how great it was to find people who were passionate about Scottish Country Dancing. The RSCDS, it seemed to me, had also preserved values of courtesy and caring. On that first visit to St. Andrews, I found an international community of people who genuinely cared for others. I was rather shy back then, and few of my friends and colleagues understood my passions for folk music and Scottish Dancing. Diana Keech took me under her wing, and within a couple of days there was a variety of people looking out for me. People were not just being polite when they asked me to events – they really were concerned that I was happy and enjoying my week. I believe that my increased social confidence these days is mostly due to Scottish Country Dancing!

The RSCDS back then may look, in retrospect, rather old-fashioned and retrospective, but it did a tremendous job in keeping Scottish Dancing and music alive, and in encouraging that courtesy and esprit de corps that I had noticed. Now, all these years later, I am even prouder of the RSCDS and how it has changed and is changing to meet the future. Over the last ten to fifteen years, and possibly even earlier too, things are not so rigid, and there is more acceptance of people whose dancing is less than perfect. The RSCDS is rising to the challenge of restoring the tradition of dancing to children and young people, particularly in Scotland, so that it is again becoming a natural and accepted part of their heritage. At the same time, Scottish Country Dancing is spreading internationally, and no longer just around groups of ex-pats; it is a truly world-wide movement. The music has never really disappeared; thanks to the vision and persistence of the RSCDS, the dance now is moving forward and facing the future too. And all the while it retains those values of enthusiasm, courtesy and caring. I am proud to be a member.

Now for Part Two! This concerns those “extras” on a dance programme. Why are they there? Do they really need to be there? In some groups, extras rarely appear on programmes, partly due to the habit of encoring several dances during the evening. I am not against dancing the odd encore in principal, but why repeat a dance when you could do another, different dance? There are other places where in order not to have to introduce an extra, the MC extends the gaps between dances, the pace gets slower, and the atmosphere starts to be lost. People change their shoes and put their coats on…

There are also times when a good MC will have some time left because the dance has been run efficiently, the sets have been made up quickly, there have not been many walk-throughs, and the tea break did drag on too long. And that’s when extras are needed. So what sort of dances should be included as extras? First, they should be simple – many people will not have had time to revise  or learn the extras; then they should be well-known, and widely known, to include as many people as possible – and at the late point when extras are introduced, no one wants a brain teaser. Too old a dance, or too new a dance, might also exclude a good number of people.  Finally, they should be popular, or no one will bother to get up on the floor for them.

I should also stress that one of the extras should be a strathspey, rather than “we can dance either my favourite reel or my second-favourite reel”. It is quite possible, and not unknown, for the MC to stand up and say “Now we’re going to put in two extras after the next dance, Reel of the Puffins. We’ll dance The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, and Camilla’s Reel. Then we’ll return to the programme and finish with The Minister on the Loch and Reel of the 51st.” This scenario could mean 5 out of the 6 last dances were in quick time! Imagine how many people would have changed their shoes and gone home after that announcement.

Finally, an explanation of how I put sources in programmes in Broun’s Reel. This is probably, but not exclusively, of use to teachers. I try to put in the published source which is most widely available, eg. “RSCDS 2nd Graded Book” rather than “2nd Rockpool Collection 1986”; I will put the name of the person if it’s not an RSCDS dance, followed by the collection or book. And yes – 2nd Rockpool Collection is made up, as is Camilla’s Reel!  

Joyce Cochrane  


It was decided to have the Branch Walk on the eastern side of our area this year. I asked Alan Swearman, who has arranged walks for us in the past, for advice, and between us we decided on a walk in and around Welton dale. Alan and I tested the walk for timing and level of difficulty. Thank you Alan, it was an excellent choice.

Twenty-two people joined us for a walk through the countryside with lovely views of the hills, the fields and the river. It was a very good occasion, walking and mixing with people for a good chat! Not something you can do when dancing.

The last part of the morning was down the dale, which is beautiful. We met up with Belted Galloway cows and walked past the Old Mill and down into Welton village for an excellent lunch at the Green Dragon pub (no sign of Dick Turpin).

Thank you all for supporting us on the day. Unfortunately there are no photos this year.

Chris Hare, Hessle.


Thank you to all who sent in their 10 favourite dances.   There was certainly a diverse selection.   122 dance titles were submitted and the final 10 were selected by the number of times they were listed.   The top two tied on 7 selections and then 6, etc.   Here is the final list from our Branch.

Bratach Bana

City of Belfast

Montgomeries’ Rant

The Dancing Master

Mairi’s Wedding

Pelorus Jack

Kilkenny Castle

The Gentleman

Ian Powrie’s Farewell to Auchterarder

Reel of the Royal Scots    

Helen Brown, York


The TAC Teachers’ Conference and Summer School was held in Minneapolis this year and Malcolm and I decided to go after a gap of eleven years.   TAC stands for Teachers Association Canada which actually covers the world.   It was the first Teachers Association of the RSCDS and was set up 60 years ago so obviously this was their 60th Anniversary.   

We arrived in Minneapolis the day before the conference so that we could get acclimatised.   It was hot weather in America too, so the university was using the air-conditioning.   Unfortunately, the air-con system covered two buildings the second of which was a much warmer building.   Consequently, the bedrooms in our building were cold to say the least!   We could have extra blankets which we did but I still put my fleece on the bed too.   On our recce of the hall of residence later in the evening, we chanced to meet the organising committee and were welcomed as if we were long lost friends – which to some, I suppose we were!

The next afternoon was registration where we picked up our class and activity schedules as well as the natty TAC backpack/totebags which we had ordered.   The classes and dances were held in a very large dance studio in a gym complex about 10 minutes walk away.   At the evening dance, we met up with more friends and a sociable time was had by all.   The musicians for the weekend and SS were a mixture of two bands – Tullochgorum from Boston and Scotch Mist from Toronto – who played together very well.

The classes for the weekend were taught by Antoine Rousseau from Paris (who is teaching at our Harrogate Weekend next February).   He was joined the following week by Jody Kulas and Ellie Briscoe.   The three teachers rotated round the three classes during the week culminating in a combined class on the last morning.   There were extra related classes in the afternoon and Malcolm had been asked to teach two of them – one was the dances he had written for his trips to Russia and the other was specialising in reels of four.   We also went to a class called “Dance like it’s 1749 or even 1816!” taken by Marjorie McLaughlin from San Diego who is steeped in the origins of SCD.   Marjorie is someone whose knowledge and opinions I have respected for a long time.

There were two balls during the 10 days, one during the Teachers’ Conference and one during Summer School and everyone looked really smart in their glad rags.   At each there was a sit down meal and speeches.   At the first, Malcolm was asked to propose the toast to “The Queen” (she is our patron) and, at the second, the scholarship recipients each gave a brief speech.   

After the evening dancing we all needed time to wind down and there was a very big room in which the “after parties” were held.   There were comfy chairs and settees, tables and upright chairs and space to dance on the carpeted floor if desired.   The musicians gathered at one end and jammed until the small hours aided by itinerant musicians who borrowed instruments to get their fix and add to the interest of those listening.   At the other end of the room food and drink was available – savoury and sweet snacks as well as home baking and drinks ranging from tea and coffee to soft drinks to alcoholic ones.   All this was provided by the entertainments committee and local dancers and it was very much appreciated.

As Convenor of the RSCDS Education and Training Committee, Malcolm was delighted to have an afternoon session with four of the North American examiners who were tutoring, teaching or examining at the course.   (There were teacher training courses and exams going on as well as the other classes.)   They were able to exchange ideas and thoughts which were beneficial to all of them.   Malcolm had also taken the opportunity to speak to another examiner who attended the Conference.

It was wonderful to meet up with so many like-minded people at meal times and on the dance floor.   As always we have made new friends and renewed acquaintances.   We were particularly pleased to meet three young brothers who are great dancers and reminded us so much of our sons twenty five years ago.

The rest of our time in America was spent in Minneapolis and Chicago.   We walked miles visiting museums and art galleries, etc, in each place, and visiting a different restaurant every day.   Chicago Branch also organised a dance for us and a friend picked us up from our hotel and took us to the venue even though it was miles out of her way.   We had a lovely time at the dance and met even more dancers (one of whom supports York City Football Club!).   We met the deviser of Barbara’s Strathspey and Pluto’s Head and she has since written a dance for us called “Helen and Malcolm Brown”!   Fame at last!

         Helen Brown, York       


Stillington Village Hall, 10 miles North of York, has proved an excellent new venue for Scottish Country Dancing over the past few months.

The first event to be held there was the Downey Day of Dance on July 1, when about 50 dancers congregated on a hot Sunday to be put through their paces by Rod Downey, the dance teacher and deviser from New Zealand. This has become something of an annual event in our area, during which Rod teaches a series of his own dances, many of which demand a lot of us both mentally and physically. The greatest challenge this year, and one which floored some of us, was a dance that combined Highland, ballroom, and SCD!

Over the summer Ken and Carol have been running Tuesday evening social dance sessions in the same Hall. Summer dancing has long been a tradition in the York area, and for many years has been run by Michael East, ably assisted by his wife, Susan. Michael is not able to continue, so Ken and Carol have stepped in, and those taking part during the summer have enjoyed dancing a varied programme of dances. It has been good to see Michael and Susan among those attending.

Carol and Ken’s latest venture is a morning social dance to take place once a month from September to December. This is not a new class to replace others in our area, but is an opportunity for more experienced dancers to come together to dance and socialise with others of a similar ability.

This is an innovation, in that they have chosen a core list of 25 dances for the term, a selection of which will be appear on each month’s programme (see below for dates, and dances).  

These dances will be recapped but not walked through. Dancers will be under absolutely no pressure to dance a particular dance if they prefer not to, but those who stand up to dance will be expected to be able to dance it with a verbal recap.

A crib for each month’s session can be sent to you by email upon request to Ken and Carol, or should be available on either the Branch website or the York Club website.

Cost per session, including tea or coffee, is £3 per person. The venue is Stillington Village Hall, The Green, Stillington, YO61 1JX.

For further information, contact Carol (07973 966861) or Ken (07733 004074) or email

We have had articles on “Reel of the 51st” before – here is a different perspective on it from Pat Tillotson.


I always thought that most Scottish dances were for 4 couples, either in square or longways sets – apart from ‘Reel of the 51st’. I understood that this dance was composed in a WWII P.O.W. camp for only 3 couples, which meant that more of the men could participate at the same time.

A dance composed in a P.O.W. camp has a vague air of romanticism, but there is no romance in the facts.

A couple of TV programmes recently celebrated [if that is the right word] the Dunkirk evacuation from Normandy. One of the programmes was solely dedicated to events involving the 51st Highland Division and the men of that Division who eventually danced in the P.O.W camp.    

The British Expeditionary Force was evacuated from Dunkirk on 4th June 1940, but left in France to fight on were the men of the 51st Highland Division. They had arrived in France in January 1940 as part of the B.E.F., and, separated from the rest of the Force, sent to help the French on the Maginot Line. This was one of the strongest barriers ever devised. All troops lived underground. Trains took arms and food along miles of tunnels. There were 6 kitchens, a bar, a cinema and a wine cellar. For a time all was quiet; there were even pleasantries exchanged with German troops positioned nearby.

10th May 1940. Hitler invaded France, but as the German army progressed they avoided the defensive Maginot Line and instead went south and through the Ardennes Forest which the French had considered impenetrable. The Maginot Line being roughly at right angles to the northern French coast meant the majority of the B.E.F. were to the north and east in the area of Dunkirk. The 51st and their French allies were cut off to the south and west of the Line. They did not know of the Dunkirk evacuation, there was no rescue for them.

They became involved in street fighting at the Battle of Abbeville when the small town was all but destroyed, and some French troops disappeared, but not all. Major General Victor Fortune refused to keep his men there but Winston Churchill said they must stay and support the French.

6th June 1940. Abbeville fell. Tanks were on the ground, Stukers dropped 'screaming' bombs, and machine gunned from the air. The 51st had only small arms left. Heavier weapons had been left behind as they fell back.

8th June 1940. General Rommel (before his African exploits) advanced his troops quickly, and on 9th June his Panzer Division reached the Normandy coast. The 51st were now completely encircled.

But some help was being proposed. Admiral William James, Commander in Chief of Naval Forces in Portsmouth decided to launch an unofficial relief flotilla rescue mission. Some of the boats had been at Dunkirk. The naval top brass did not approve.

St. Valéry en Caux was on the coast, the 51st ringed the small port, but were still surrounded themselves. Arms were running low.

11th June 1940. 207 boats approach the French coast but Luftwaffe were everywhere. The flotilla was to wait for nightfall but Major General Fortune still believed in rescue. Admiral James was told not to proceed but he carried on.

11th June 1940. In 6 hours the boats could move in but at 4pm the Germans attacked using 30,000 troops, 400 tanks, 200 artillery guns, field guns and the Luftwaffe to break through. Some of the 51st ran for the cliffs, fixing rifle belts together and lowering themselves down the 300 foot sheer cliff face but had to drop the last 20 feet. Some fell on sand and some on lethal rocks.

The 51st and their French allies had been pushed into the town of St. Valéry. They signalled for the boats, and because that help was coming they rejected the offer to surrender to Rommel's troops. Rommel then ordered St. Valéry to be bombarded. It lasted all night.

12th June 1940. The flotilla was immersed in a thick mist. Communication by signal lamps between the ships was not possible - could the 51st hold on another day?

0815 hours. The French capitulated. Major General Fortune said he could not do so himself, but at 10.34am he had to admit defeat. He surrendered to avoid a mass slaughter. Admiral James had to withdraw the boats.

Of the 51st Highland Division over 5,000 men were injured and one thousand killed. The remaining 11,000 were in the P.O.W. camp until 1945.

They never received any official recognition, and no campaign medal has ever been awarded.

But there is a monument on the cliffs above St.Valery, and in 1942 in Scotland General Charles de Gaulle - who had led the Free French - said: "the comradeship in arms between the French Armoured Division which he commanded and the gallant 51st Highland Division under Major General Fortune played its part in his decision to continue the fight to the end, come what may."

Some of the narration in the programme was by men who had been there, now in their late nineties. Private Donald Smith had a photograph taken at Fort George on the north east coast of Scotland before the war. Six young men standing beside a gun captured in W.W.I. None had survived. Two of them had been killed outright standing on either side of him in 1940, although he was badly injured, as the photographer he was the only one left.

So although we can usually believe what we read sometimes there is more to it than meets the eye.

I visited Fort George in May 2016. It is a remarkable place.

The copies of the photographs were taken from the T.V.

Patricia Tillotson, August 2018.

(My dancing days were at Cottingham Reel Club in the olden times, and with the York & N. Humberside Branch.)


When I first started to go to dances I couldn’t quite understand what was meant by a lieu dance. Eventually (slow learner) I realised that the lieu dance was in fact the dance  one didn’t want to do, so escaped to the loo.

I somehow have always felt that this was a pity as I am sure it would be much more enjoyable to watch a dance and listen to the music than feel the need to remove oneself from the room.

We as dancers should respect the fact that someone doesn’t want to or can’t , for whatever reason, do the dance and would prefer to sit out. We should not coerce them to dance just to make up a set, instead we should learn to accommodate whatever numbers we have. For example use a ghost take the place of one missing person, just as long as the set that has the ghost is fairly competent.

I do appreciate that there cannot be a hard and fast rule and there are occasions when less competent dancers need a little encouragement to join in. Persuading them to join in, when clearly the set is going to struggle is, I feel, counter-productive. Invite them into a competent set where they stand a chance of enjoying the dance. I know moving dancers into other sets is “not done” but particularly at a dance with recorded music, would this not be helpful?

After all, the aim is to enjoy dancing not to feel stressed by the occasion.

Jennifer Robinson

Holiday flat, Canary Isles

Iain Keegan has a flat in Playa San Juan, Guia de Isora, Tenerife.

Double bedroom and a living room with a couch. Situated 100 m from the harbour and    200 m from the beach.  Shared rooftop terrace.

35 minute clifftop walk to Alcala, 1hr 10 minutes to Los Gigantes.

Excursions to Mount Teide or boat trips with the possibility of seeing porpoises.

Convenient for local bus services -€7 to the airport (TFS), or €50 by taxi.

Available in the spring and summer, or selected dates in the winter €300 / week.

    Iain is happy to let his flat out to other dancers when he is not using it.  

Contact him for more information.


The annual Joint Ball held by our two branches will be held on Saturday 17th November at the Riley-Smith Hall in Tadcaster. Please note that this is not the venue listed in the “Forthcoming Events” page of the last. The dance will begin at 7.30 pm and the supper is catered for by Riley-Smith. Tickets cost £19 for dancers and £10 for spectators. We are dancing to the music of the incomparable Marian Anderson.

This year Leeds are the hosts, and have chosen the programme:

PRE-CHRISTMAS BRANCH DANCE, SWANLAND, 2nd DECEMBER                                                                                                  

Our last dance before Christmas is one of our winter afternoon dances, and will be held in Swanland Village Hall, Main Street, HU14 3QR, beginning at 2 pm. We will be dancing to the music of Ian Slater.

You do not need to bring any contributions to food – a tea of mince pies and Christmas cake will be provided. The dance will cost £8 for RSCDS members, and £10 for non-members.

The programme has been drawn up by Annegret Jameson and Lynne Brooks.



I first knew Reg and Audrey by meeting them regularly as “stewards” at voting sessions held at St. Luke’s C of E church in Chestnut Avenue, Willerby. They also attended SCD classes in Willerby from around 1966 (that’s a guess) and lived for many years in the Chestnut Avenue area of Willerby. Reg worked for East Riding County Council.

Many years later they moved to a delightful home called Squirrel Cottage in Kirby Grindalythe, which came about almost by accident when the council wanted Reg to cover for someone’s absence from work, prior to his retirement. East Riding County Council provided them with temporary living accommodation in that area, and whilst there, Reg and Audrey found Squirrel Cottage and manged to buy it. Gypsy Race ran through their front garden.

They were able to use the village hall for an occasional dance (by invitation), but it was very small and would only hold two sets. They would give me a bed for the night which enabled me to enjoy a delightful ride home in the daylight the following day. I believe they continued to dance at a local class.

Audrey died about five years ago and eventually Reg moved to Dynasty House, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, to be nearer his family. He died on 3rd July. Our condolences to his family.

Rosemary Robins, Willerby


BROUN'S REEL, our newsletter, is published four times a year and can normally be collected at the Branch Dances held in September, December, February and May.  Readers wishing to obtain Broun's Reel by post should send 4 (or more) first or second class stamps, together with a note of name and address, to Mrs. R. Robins, 90 Carr Lane, Willerby, Hull HU10 6JU.  Please don't also collect a further copy from the dances, or we might run short!

Editor:  Joyce Cochrane, 22 Newton Drive, Beverley,

  HU17 8NX.    (01482 - 871790)


Production: Rosemary Robins

Secretary: Helen Brown  01904 - 488084

York & North Humberside branch website:

Contact:  Rita Eastwood   (01904 - 413020) or

Copy date for next issue:     11th  November 2018