RSCDS Banffshire Branch 80th Anniversary

2009 was the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Banffshire Branch in 1929 - an excellent reason for some celebrations!

Dancing for the Queen at Balmoral

Dancing Gourdieburn at Balmoral

We were greatly honoured when Her Majesty the Queen kindly invited us to dance for her to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the formation of our Branch. We decided to perform some dances from our 75th Anniversary Book because these dances are all devised by Banffshire Branch members and/or are inspired by a Banffshire connection. The event needed live music and Colin Dewar and his Band (who recorded our 75th Anniversary CD) were happy and able to fit us (and Her Majesty) into their crowded schedule.

On Tuesday, 11th August at midday about 40 Branch members and 16 children from local schools crowded onto the coach in Keith. On arriving at Balmoral we all had our photo ID's checked (passports, driving licences, bus passes, etc.) before proceeding to the tea room where we were to perform. We received a friendly greeting from Clare Russell, the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire.

The area for dancing was slightly less than we expected, so we decided to abandon the children's static display during 'We've nae Electric'. We got ready and put on our dancing shoes while the Band finished setting up and we had a quick practice of walking on and off (always more difficult than the actual dancing!) while the Band were changing out of 'just do it' tee-shirts into something slightly more suitable for the occasion. The Dancers and the Band then had a practice.

The children starting Round Reel of Eight at Balmoral

After the practice, with just a few minutes to go we all stood, puffing and hearts beating, in our sets ready for Findlater Castle, waiting for Her Majesty. When she arrived (with Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie), our Chairman, Gary Coull, gave a short introductory speech and the music and dancing started.

Our programme:

The dancing and the music all went well, with nothing worse than the occasional hesitation or poorly-pointed foot (hopefully, She didn't notice!)

Her Majesty and the two Princesses appeared to be very happy with our performance. Toe-tapping was observed!

Mrs. Jean Mair, our longest-surviving member and devisor of 'Compliments to Jessie Bain' presented Her Majesty with Banffshire Branch CDs and dance books. The Royal party then spent a considerable time walking amongst us, talking with us and asking questions. Her Majesty even asked what the floor was like to dance on. (It was hard but not slippery.)

We were treated to tea and biscuits and had plenty of time to chatter before piling back onto the coach to return to Keith.

It was a highly successful event and, after having danced for the Queen, we are left wondering - what can we do next?

80th Anniversary Dance in Buckie

Jessie Stuart, Jean Mair and Anne McArthur cutting the 80th Anniversary cake

The Banffshire Branch Annual Dance on 13th November at the Fishermans' Hall in Buckie was rather special.

The evening started with a drinks reception, giving plenty of time to catch up on news and gossip while, behind the scenes, there was some 'fighting with technology' before the 'slide-show' of the dancing at Balmoral could be enjoyed by all. The Dance was well attended by dancers from far and wide. As befits such an Occasion, there were speeches, cake-cutting, a surprise Presentation (see below) and Press photographs. When the formalities had been completed and the dancing started, the music was ably provided by Colin Dewar and his Band.

Branch Award Presentation

RSCDS President Alistair McFadyen presenting Anne McArthur with her Branch Award

Amongst those present were RSCDS President Alistair McFadyen and RSCDS Chairman-elect Ruth Beattie. Anne McArthur was honoured (and astounded) to receive a Branch Award. Banffshire Branch Chairman, Gary Coull, read out the Citation and the Award was presented by RSCDS President Alistair McFadyen.

A Branch Award is not achieved easily. It is given in recognition of an extended period of dedication and commitment to the Branch and to Scottish Country Dancing. Other Award holders are Jean Mair, Pat Lemmon, Jessie Stuart and Betty & Walter Rutherford.

Everybody agreed that Anne well deserved her Award. She is a former Chairman of the Branch and the Secretary at the time of the Award. She was the driving force in the production of our 75th Anniversary Dance Book and the subsequent CD. She has spent many years teaching and encouraging children and adults. Anne's quiet hard work and dedication has put Banffshire on the RSCDS map.

On with the dancing!

Dancers assembling for the Press photographer
Dancing in the Fishermans' Hall, Buckie 2009

Such a special event had to start with the formalities of speech-making and photographs but we soon got down to the basic enjoyment of lively music and a good programme which was a mix of easy and not-so-easy dances including some 'old favourites' and, of course, some from the 75th Anniversary Dance Book. A very enjoyable time was had by all, especially after we discovered how to turn down the heating in the Hall!