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We were blessed with a bright sunny morning as the various sides congregated at Sessions House Square in Maidstone, Kent for the official launching of the day's proceedings. The guest of honour was the Worshipful the Mayor of Maidstone, Councillor Eric Hotson who was accompanied by Mayoress Janet Hotson. The Federation President, Barry Goodman, made a speech welcoming the Mayor and all the morris sides, and the Mayor responded by declaring the Day of Dance officially started. Members of Kettle Bridge presented gifts to the Mayor and Mayoress.
The start of dancing was marked by a striking performance of Ealuscerwen by the host side accompanied by the Kettle Bridge band. To get everyone into the swing of things, this was followed by a massed dance from the Cotswold sides. This proved to be a fantastic sight with all the Cotswold sides intermingling and a sea of dancers performing their moves in unison.
Not to be out-done, the remaining dancers were invited to take part in a dance specially created for the occasion by our own foreman, Val. A few minutes explanation was all that was required before the multitude of dancers got the hang of it and soon the two opposing sets of rows of dancers were in action. As the dance progresses, each row dances through the row it is facing to meet up with a new row. Gradually the rows pass beyond the last opposing row and dance off until finally there are just two rows facing each other. This explanation does not do justice to the spectacle of the dance, so please click here to see the video footage.
With everyone suitably warmed up against the chilly breeze, it was then time for the sides to split off into groups to perform in rotation at various locations in Maidstone with Kettle Bridge "minders" for each group. These were armed with a sign (or frying pan, in one case!) identifying the group and some collecting tins in aid of the Kent Air Ambulance as the Day of Dance coincided with "Air Ambulance Week".
The participating sides provided an excellent show for the people of Maidstone who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The pub stands were particularly popular with the dancers as this provided an opportunity for some welcome refreshment between dances. With the time of the AGM approaching, there was just time for all the sides to congregate again outside the Royal Albion pub behind Fremlin Walk for a final round of dancing.
Then it was off to the United Reformed Church to enjoy delicious tea and cakes thoughtfully supplied by Kettle Bridge. Finally it was time for the formal business of the day, namely the AGM itself, before saying a sad farewell to all. This brought an end to a fantastic day.
There are so many "thank yous" to give for those who made the day such a success but I think Kettle Bridge can be justly proud of a job well done! Particular thanks though must go to the United Reformed Church for allowing us use of their hall and for making us so welcome, the people of Maidstone for their support and not forgetting all the sides that turned out for the Day of Dance -