Folk Association of South Hants


The Primary Schools Ceilidhs

This is something that FASH had supported and organised in the past, but it hadn't happened for several years. We were therefore delighted to support Graham Taylor's initiative to restart it as an annual dance event for schools across our area. In particicular, Dennis Wheeler from the FASH committee took on the administration to ensure that it happened each year. Now FolkActive have taken over the running of these ceilidhs, although FASH is still very much involved in support.

The event has live music and is free to Hampshire schools. CDs of music specially recorded by Cath Watkins, Nic Bradford and Kim Sheil of Jigfoot, together with the dance notes of ten dances are provided. Typically four of the dances are aimed at Key Stage 1 age children and four at Key Stage 2, with two for everyone. Volunteers from FASH provide as much help as is needed to assist with teaching the dances in schools. Pre-Covid we had as many as 300 children from 13 schools dancing over 2 days in the Jubilee Hall, Bishop's Waltham.

In 2023 the Schools Ceilidh was part of the Bishops Waltham Festival. Invitations to take part in the event went to schools who had joined us in the past. The ceilidh was held in the Bishops Waltham Palace grounds during the afternoon of Friday the 23rd June; the Festival committee called it 'Festival Folk Day' to include it as part of the overall weekend festival. On the Friday evening there was a public ceilidh, with caller Tom Gregory and Jigfoot. Children aged 11 and under had free entry to the evening, 11 to 18 year-olds paid £5 and adults £12. It was a very successful family/community evening.

In 2024 the Schools Ceilidh will be held on the 28th June and will again be part of the Bishops Waltham Festival.

Below we show a few of the many pictures of previous ceilidhs in the Jubilee Hall. We have tried to show the range of ages of the children who were joining in. These first few are from the 2016 ceilidh, and include 2 break-time 'spots' - a team of young Morris dancers from Swanmore School showing off their skills and a 'string ensemble', eleven violinists and two cello players from the Hampshire Youth Folk Ensemble (led by Joyce Ingledew of Bursledon Village Band) and the Swanmore College String Group.

The next 6 pictures are from the 2015 ceilidh. As you can see, several of the schools have active dance clubs which have their own team kit, quite different from their normal school clothes.

Below we show a few pictures from the 2014 ceilidh, including one of Graham the caller and several members of Jigfoot, who were providing our music for the day. Watching the groups of pupils dancing just for the fun of it, often without any help from the adults, made the whole event worthwhile. We also received a lovely letter sent to us from Curdridge Primary School. Thanks to Headteacher Sally Wood and her pupils Honor and Eve for this and several photos.

Curdridge Primary School at the FASH Ceilidh Festival!

On the 18th of June 12 pupils from Curdridge Primary Schools Ceilidh Club, went to a Ceilidh Festival in Wickham Community Centre. The children ranged from Year 2 to Year 6. The children were dancing all afternoon in a large hall with almost 200 children! On that afternoon we danced eight dances, including Circassian Circle and Holmfirth Square. Our favourite dance was Horse's Branle because we could improvise; some people did silent animal impressions, high kicks or cartwheels.
At school we have a Ceilidh club where we practise our Ceilidh dances. We have a great teacher called Dennis Wheeler; he is a Morris dancer but also does Ceilidh so he teaches us our dances. For a while we had an amazing violinist called Cath Watkins she helped us when Dennis was on holiday. Our Ceilidh club is always on a Wednesday after school from 3.30 to 4.30.
It is a really fantastic experience dancing to live music because it makes you feel like you are performing at a concert! We first met Cath when she came into school on the 1st May (May Day) when she came in to play the violin for the group of Morris dancers that danced at our school.
At the Festival there were over 200 dancers dancing and what was lovely was that everybody had different colour clothing. Our school had red clothing on, for the girls they had red flowery skirts, white polo shirts and black shoes. The boys had a red sashes tied round their waists and they also wore grey shorts and white polo shirt.
At the end everyone in the hall did a Circassian circle but it was a big squeeze because the hall was not quite big enough for 200 people. It was a fantastic experience enjoyed by all taking part!

By Honor Way and Eve Jeffery

Below are couple of pictures from the 2013 ceilidh.



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