|Camberley Reel Club
CAMBERLEY REEL CLUB - THE FIRST 40 YEARS
Reprinted from the 40th Anniversary Ball Programme
A HISTORY OF CAMBERLEY REEL CLUB
Reprinted from the Golden Anniversary Ball Ticket 26th March 2011
50 YEARS FOR CAMBERLEY REEL CLUB
Reprinted from the RSCDS Berks/Hants/Surrey Border Branch News
Camberley Reel Club was formed at a meeting held on 20th September, 1960. A Major Rutherford and Mr. and Mrs. Brown-Hovelt had met Scottish Country Dancing while in Germany with the British Army of the Rhine, and on return to the Camberley area were disappointed to find that there was no local club they could join. They decided to rectify the situation and placed a joint notice in the Camberley News inviting all interested parties to attend a meeting in the Hawley Hotel, (now long gone and replaced by a housing estate). Twenty-three people turned up and the Club was born. Major Rutherford became Chairman and Instructor, Mrs. Brown-Hovelt Secretary, and Mr. Brown-Hovelt Treasurer. It was agreed to hire the ballroom of the Hotel every Tuesday evening at 10/6d per evening, and to alternate Instruction and Social Dancing organised by volunteer club members. There would be three special events in the year: St. Andrew's Night, Burns' Night and an end of season Ball with live music, all to be held in the hotel.
After a successful first year Maj. Rutherford was replaced by Mrs. Brown-Hovelt as chairman, and Ian and Nora Hunter became joint secretaries. Major Rutherford left in 1963 and was replaced as Instructor by Dennis Hughes of Guildford. Being, to use modern politically correct speech, 'vertically challenged', he conducted his instruction standing on a chair, but it was no less valuable for that. As space in the hotel ballroom was limited, 1963 saw a move to the Agincourt Hall for the Spring Ball - the highlight of the year - with music by Mike MacNeil's band.
In 1965 a disagreement with the new owners of the Hawley Hotel over a 300% rise in hall fees led to a temporary move to the hall of the old St. George's Church in Obelisk Street, Camberley, and then a permanent move to the hall which has been our home ever since, St. Paul's. Ken Milnes replaced Dennis Hughes about this time, and was our instructor for the next 12 years. Since 1961 the club had organised a one day school each year. These were successful at first, but as more clubs were formed in the area, and each put on a school, numbers fell to an uneconomic level. They were discontinued in 1969, to be replaced a number of years later, after the formation of the Borders Branch, by Branch organised events.
The highlight, and end, of the dancing year was the Spring Ball. In 1965 McBains band was engaged for the first time, and in 1966 the Ball moved to the restaurant/ballroom of Harveys (now Army & Navy), followed by a further move to the brand new Camberley Civic Hall in 1970, to remain there until 1978. Frank Reid first played for us in 1975. That year also saw a change in the day. Up until then big dances had been held on Friday evenings, ending at 1.00 am, but, partly to offset rising costs, and partly to meet changes in social habits, the day was changed to Saturday, and the finish time to just before midnight. Rising hall fees, and the imposition of a requirement to use the hall contract caterers, who were much more expensive than those normally used, led to a move to various school halls, after trying for a year or two to get by without providing a supper (dancers brought their own). For the last few years we have used the hall of Yateley Manor School. The floor is not ideal, but the hall is spacious and can comfortably accommodate 140 dancers. A better location has so far proved elusive.
Our membership has varied over the years, rising steadily to a peak of 76 in 1971, and falling gradually to 29 in 1981, similar drops being suffered by other clubs in the area. However, numbers have risen again, and although not up to 1971 levels, most evenings we have four or more sets of keen and enthusiastic dancers. The original formula of alternating Instruction and Social Dancing has proved successful and is in use to this day.
Burns' Night has been a feature of the Club's activities since its inception. At first the hotel did the catering, but since moving to St. Paul's the ladies of the club have done sterling work producing the traditional haggis supper. Since 1986 the serving Mayor and Mayoress of Surrey Heath have been guests of honour, and have been presented with a cheque for the current Mayor's Charity. Hugh MacKay has been our piper since 1974, and, as well as piping in the haggis, plays for dancing and the Grand March at the Spring Ball.
In 1993 the Club organised the first of what has become a successful series of Charity Dances. Held on a Friday and with live music, so far a total of approximately £900 has been raised for the Camberley Open Mind Association.
The Club celebrated its Ruby Anniversary with a 40th Anniversary Ball in September 2000.
President 1989 - 2002
Back to top of page
Camberley Reel Club was formed in September 1960. It was thanks to Major Rutherford and Mr. & Mrs. Brown-Hovelt, who had met Scottish Country Dancing while stationed in Germany with the British Army of the Rhine. Disappointed that there was no local club when they returned to Camberley, they decided to set one up. So they placed a joint advertisement in the Camberley News and 23 people responded. Following an inaugural meeting at the Hawley Hotel (which was on Woodside off Hawley roundabout on the A30 before it was replaced by a housing estate) ...the rest is history.
Major Rutherford became Chairman and Instructor, Mrs. Brown-Hovelt Secretary, and Mr. Brown-Hovelt Treasurer. It was agreed to hire the ballroom of the Hotel every Tuesday evening at 10/6d per evening. They chose to hold a mixture of instructional and social dance evenings, the latter organised by volunteer members, and three formal events held throughout the year. This format continues to this day. The formal events were originally St. Andrew's Night, Burns' Night and an end of season Ball.
After a successful first year Mrs. Brown-Hovelt replaced Major Rutherford as chairman, and Ian and Nora Hunter became joint secretaries. Major Rutherford left in 1963 and was replaced as Instructor by Dennis Hughes of Guildford. Being, to use modern politically correct speech, ‘vertically challenged’, he conducted his instruction standing on a chair, but it was no less valuable for that. The Club also organised a day school, which was held annually between 1961 and 1969.
There have been a few changes of venue over the years. The club moved from its original venue as a result in a 300% rise in hall fees. This was temporarily to St. George's Church Hall, Obelisk Street (now pedestrianised as Obelisk Way in the centre of Camberley, leading to the Camberley Obelisk), and subsequently to the present venue at St. Paul's Church Hall.
End of season Balls were at first held at the Hawley Hotel. Due to limited space, 1963 saw a move to Agincourt Hall. In 1965 McBains band was engaged for the first time, and in 1966 the Ball moved to the restaurant/ballroom of Harveys department store (which became A & N, now House of Fraser). It then moved to the brand new Camberley Civic Hall in 1970, to remain there until 1978. In 1975 we moved the ball from a Friday to a Saturday evening. Rising costs led to a move to various school halls, there was even a year or two when dancers were asked to bring their own supper! After a long spell at Yateley Manor School, where the floor was particularly hard, we now hold our ball at Emmbrook School in Wokingham.
The Club organised its first Charity Dance in 1993 and has continued to hold this event annually. This replaced the St Andrew's Night dance, one of the original three formal events held each year. Profits from this are donated to the Camberley District Open Mind Association and over the last ten years the Club has donated approximately £3,000 to this charity.
The remaining highlight of the season is Burns' Night. For the past 25 years the guest of honour has been the serving Mayor/Mayoress of Surrey Heath who, on the evening, has been presented by the Club with a donation for the current Mayor's Charity. We like to make the Mayor dance for his supper. The total amount raised by the Club over the last 10 years is approximately £2,700.
Alongside the formal events, we also hold a number of social dancing evenings. These are held in the Autumn and Spring seasons, and we have an end of the dance year social in May.
Membership of the Club has inevitably varied over the years, peaking at 76 in 1971 and a low of 29 in 1981. Today's figure is a respectable 44. In order to cater for the less experienced newcomer and beginners, the Club has in the past organised some formally taught courses which proved to be successful. The Club's annual membership fee and weekly subscription - £5 and £1.50 respectively - are unchanged since 2002.
There are also some key people who have helped the club continue to be successful. The queen of catering at Camberley is Margaret Coleman, who has served the club's refreshments for 30 years. Our music maestro is David Page, who ensures that all the music tracks are fully catalogued, making it easy for the caller to find the track they need. There is our webmistress, Sue Wood, who set up our website in 2001 and made our presence felt on the internet. And then there are all of our members and friends, with their continued support for the club.
In conclusion, the Club members' main aim is to share the sociability of Scottish Country Dancing, have fun, and make, and keep, good friends.
Back to top of page
When Camberley Reel Club celebrated its 40th Anniversary, the Club's first president Jim Adams wrote a concise history of the Club. This was printed in the Anniversary Ball Programme and is available here It would not be good etiquette to repeat Jim's well written item in full, but for those who may like a quick reminder:
Camberley Reel Club was formed in 1960 during an inaugural meeting at (the then) Hawley Hotel. Twenty three people were present, and agreement was made for alternate instructional and social dancing evenings, the latter to be organised by volunteer members. Furthermore, the Club was to hold three events per year: St Andrew's Night, Burns' Nicht, and an end of season ball. After a successful first year the Club also organised a day-school, which was held annually until 1969.
After a three hundred per cent increase in fees at Hawley Hotel, club evenings were transferred to St George's Church Hall, Obelisk Street, and subsequently to our present [as at the time of writing] venue at St Paul's Church Hall.
End of season balls were held at Hawley Hotel until 1966. Since then, venues for the event have included Harveys (now Army and Navy Department Store), Camberley Civic Hall, then various school halls for a year or two prior to many years at Yateley Manor School.
In many organisations, there are renowned people involved from foundation. For Camberley Reel Club, these were undoubtedly Jim Adams and Eugene Burden. Both Jim and Eugene did sterling work in providing dancing instructions as well as the music for social dancing and preparing the programmes for the major events. Jim served as President from 1989 until he passed away in 2002. Eugene was elected President the following year and remained in office until his death in 2009. Both have been missed tremendously.
The Club has been unusually fortunate also to have Margaret Coleman, who has served the Club's refreshments for the last 30 years. During that time Margaret has also coordinated the complexities of catering for our special events and socials. Every club evening, Margaret is the first person to arrive and, after ensuring the security of the premises, the last to leave. In addition, there are the numerous and varied tasks she undertakes for the Spring Ball, which include raiding her garden, and arranging plants and flowers to decorate the stage and tables.
The mainstay of the Club's seasonal programme continues to contain a blend of social and instructional evenings, the latter being taught throughout the years by the well known professionals: Bruce Frazer, Alan Davis, Anne Whillis, Deborah Draffin, and John and Jan Douglas. For the past few years, our experts have kindly coached us through a 'feature dance'; one of a few selected dances for the season, intended for inclusion in both our social and special events programmes. During our social evenings, which continue to be MCd by members of the Club, one or more of the featured dances are incorporated into the an evening's programme, and this seems to work well.
Music is clearly vital for any club. Not surprisingly, during the early years music was provided at 78, 45 and 33 (plus the important 1/3!) rpm. Inevitably, wear and tear took their toll, but the arrival of cassettes provided the means to preserve the classics, thus allowing recorded music to be tailored for any evening dancing programme. Progress continued with the arrival of compact discs, and Jim Adams purchased some SCD CDs. Sadly, Jim's health failed before the transfer of the Club's favourite music to CD.
Forever enterprising, David Page took over the project, and with the acquisition of the necessary software, David was also able to adjust the speed of any track without changing the pitch. This allowed classics from the past, previously considered to be too fast for SCD, to be included in our Library of Music. With all the Club's music now catalogued on CD, it now takes just a few minutes to identify the CD/track required for any evening programme.
The Club web-site was developed by Sue Wood in 2001. Sue has also maintained the site since then to provide contact details, the schedule for the season's evenings, and programmes and cribs for all the Club's main functions, together with links to 'Minicrib' and the Strathspey Server. A full account of Camberley Reel Club's 40 year history by Jim Adams, the history of the kilt, and instructions for knitting hose can also be found on the web-site.
Membership of the Club has inevitably varied over the years, peaking at 76 in 1971, and a low of 29 in 1981. Today's figure is a respectable 44. In order to cater for the 'less experienced new-comer' and beginners, the Club has in the past organised some formally taught courses which proved to be successful. The Club's annual membership fee and weekly subscription - £5 and £1.50 respectively - are unchanged since 2002.
The Club's current main events, namely the Spring Ball, Charity Dance and Burns' Night are relatively well attended. Of these events, the Spring Ball was for many years held in the Sports Hall of Yateley Manor School, where, on the morning of the Ball, a working party from the Club met to assemble the stage, which first required to be disassembled then transported from the school's theatre to the hall where it was then re-assembled. At the end of the evening the whole procedure was reversed - no mean task. However, with a well decorated stage, flags, and (the talented) Marie Sudwell's paintings of Scottish landscapes, the hall was much enhanced. Nevertheless, there existed the perennial problem of the hard floor at Yately. Recently, after learning that Emmbrook School in Wokingham accommodated a new sprung floor, a permanent stage, and a more favourable environment, a new venue was found.
The Club organised its first Charity Dance in 1993 and has continued to hold this event annually. Profits from the event are donated to the Camberley District Open Mind Association, and over the last ten years the Club has donated approximately £3,000 to this charity. The event has been held previously at St Mary's and Heatherside Community Centre, with Carnation Hall in Winkfield Row having currently found favour in view of its excellent floor and spacious ambience.
The remaining high spot of the season is Burns Night, for which club members - coordinated by Margaret Coleman - produce items for the traditional haggis supper. Hugh MacKay piped in the haggis for 28 years until 2003. This important task was then carried out by various pipers, including a young man from Gordon's School, until Bracknell Club recommended Alex Seggar, who not only piped in the haggis, but also gave the Address. Sadly, Alex has now retired from piping. Following tradition, recitations of Burns' poems rendered in the Scots lowland idiom have been rendered (with appropriate translations) for many years by such good folks as Bruce Frazer, Bill Innes and Michael Ferguson. For the past 25 years the guest of honour has been the serving Mayor/Mayoress of Surrey Heath who, on the evening, has been presented by the Club with a donation for the current Mayor's Charity: the total amount donated by the Club over the last 10 years approximates £2,700.
In conclusion, the Club members' main aim is clearly to share the sociability of Scottish Country Dancing, have fun, and make and keep good friends. In this respect, the good wishes expressed for the Club's future at our 40th anniversary celebrations have been fulfilled. We look forward to having a wonderful evening at the Club's Golden Anniversary Ball, which is to be held at Emmbrook School in Wokingham, on Saturday, 26 March 2011. If you are free, please join us to help celebrate our first 50 years!
Chairman 2005 - 2010
Back to top of page