The Midland Folk Group



History                        By Pete Mac 2002

Pam Watson (left) with
Lawrie and June Chapman
with the Midland Folk Section Celebrating 45 years, Oct 2011

Malcolm & Shirley Bird
Malcolm & Shirley Bird
The Midlands longest remaining Members.

Shirley recalls their first camp with the Folk Group was at Ford in the Cotswolds in the summer of 1966, they then joined the midland section when they next paid their subscriptions, and camped for the first time with them at Hoo Mill near Alcester in the spring of 67.

One of her memories was being pulled into their first dance at their first Christmas meet, by Jack and Connie Mee and Ethel and John Garwood. It was Fandango followed by Ninepins, she says they did not have a clue,

They carried on to do the catering for the Christmas meet for the next 20 years, Malcolm was secretary for about 15 years, she remembers that they also ran rapper workshops at Easter for many years, also some Playford type workshops.

'Margaret Thompson and I were the first members to start craft workshops and for many years I did card workshops at Easter and some of our own meets.'

Thanks to Shirley for the information.

History of The Midland Section

The formation of the Midland Section of the Folk Dance and Song Group took place on 28th May 1966, during the weekend known in those days as Whitsuntide. The meeting was held at a meet at Chartley Castle, Stowe by Chartley, near Rugeley, Staffordshire, and was attended by Folk Group Chairman, Bob Whitlock. The following Officers and Committee were elected: Chairman, Eddie Cammack; Secretary, Mrs K. Dunsby; Treasurer, Tony Owen; Committee, Lawrie Chapman - Staffordshire, Len Dunsby- Birmingham, Jack Mee - Nottingham, Bill Walding - Northampton, Arthur Evans - music.

At their inaugural meeting, the new Midland Section embarked upon the creation of a display team. Just two weeks later the Midland Section display team gave their first public display at the Central Counties Regional Meet at Billing Aquadrome, Northamptonshire. nearly all the 24 dancers were in festival dress, and they performed the Cottagers, La Russe and Blaydon Races, to an appreciative audience. The evening dance, led by Eddie Cammack, included a large number of dancers, and there were many spectators. When it started to pour with rain, the Section was forced to retire to the beer tent, where Ron Shuttleworth led non-stop folk singing until closing time.
At Easter 1967 the formation of the Midland Section Band took place. The band gave their first public performance under the leadership of Stan Bacon, at the Birmingham D.A.'s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations on 10,h June 1967.

Eddie Cammack had organised the 1965 and 1966 Easter Meets at Blockley prior to formation of the Midland Section.

The 1967 Easter Meet at Blockley was organised jointly by the two newly formed Sections of Home Counties and Midland.

The 1973 and 1974 Easter Meets were organised by Midland Section at Brailes, with tents and caravans on the recreation ground grouped around the village hall. I recall Jim Watson, who was site steward, putting little blue stickers on our windscreens for the first time!

In 1982 the Midland Section, together with the North West Section, organised the Group Easter Meet at Stafford Show Ground, with 159 units attending.

In the beginning the Midland Section drew members from a wide area of the country. Then with the increasing cost of petrol, and probably influenced somewhat by the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak between the years 1968 and 1971, members were thinking twice before travelling long distances to weekend meets. In due course, some of these members broke away to form the North West, North Central and North East Sections of the Group, which left the Midland Section smaller in area than before. However the Midland Section continued to thrive, holding regular meets and participating in Folk Group events up and down the country.

Midland Section established an annual Pancake Meet, and a Residential Weekend, which attracted members from other Sections.

The Section organised the 1990 Easter Meet at Wolverley, Worcestershire, with 287 units attending. One item of the programme that Easter was 'The Biggest Folk Band' which had 166 musicians playing a variety of instruments, under the baton (actually a tin whistle!) of Ron Stirrup.
The 1996 Easter Meet at Stratford-upon-Avon High School organised by the Midland
Section was very successful, and partly because of its good location near the centre of the country attracted record numbers - 493 units and 1006 people. Midland Section Chairman John Jackson was Meet Co-ordinator.

The 25th Birthday celebrations of the Section took place over the weekend of  17th / 19th May 1991 at Brailes. The programme consisted of dances, workshops, sports, and a birthday banquet. Eddie Cammack, the first Midland Section Chairman and Vice President of the Folk Group came over from Canada with his wife Biddy, to be at the meet.

The first Midland Section Christmas Meet, suggested by Eddie Cammack, was held at the Social Centre in Hayes Heath Village on Cannock Chase in 1967. There were six hardy families in tents, and ten families in caravans. The youngest camper was just two years old! Many active members were there, recalls Lawrie Chapman who was there with his wife June and their family. Eddie & Biddy Cammack of course were there, and Jack Heath who had found the site. Malcolm & Shirley Bird were there as were Jack & Connie Mee, John & Ethel Garwood from Nottinghamshire, Audrey & Norman Gibbs of Cheltenham, and Bill & Connie Walding from Northamptonshire. The following year, 1968, the Christmas Meet was held at Avoncroft College, Bromsgrove. The Christmas Meets have been a very enjoyable fixture continuing for over three decades, and although the venue has changed several times, most of the meets have been held at Avoncroft. The organisation of the Christmas Meets changed when there were no longer any Midland Section members on the committee. For a short time the meet was run under the auspices of North Central Section, but the Christmas Meet is now independent of a Section and has its own accounts and
organisation. June & Lawrie Chapman and Paul Mee are still involved from the original families and Ian Gustard and Paul Mee are now the leading lights. Though it didn't happen in 2001, the meets are expected to continue.


Club Head Office, Camping and Caravanning Club, Greenfields House, Westwood Way, Coventry, CV4 8JH.