Dancers ob­serve remembrance in reel time

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - COMMENT -

Sir, – Like your cor­re­spon­dent Ken Guild (Men of the 51st de­serve bet­ter, Let­ters, November 7) my hus­band and I watched the ex­cel­lent Chan­nel 4 pro­gramme con­cern­ing the 51st High­land Di­vi­sion in 1940.

How­ever, I would like to as­sure Mr Guild that there is a large sec­tion of the Scot­tish pop­u­la­tion – and of peo­ple world­wide – who reg­u­larly re­mem­ber the of­fi­cers and men of the 51st.

We are the Scot­tish coun­try danc­ing com­mu­nity!

As many of your read­ers may know, of­fi­cers of the 51st High­land Di­vi­sion com­posed and prac­tised a Scot­tish coun­try dance in their PoW camp af­ter the sur­ren­der at St Valery.

The in­struc­tions for this were sent to the mother of one of­fi­cer in Perth, and the dance was taken up by the Perth branch of the Scot­tish Coun­try Dance So­ci­ety (now the Royal Scot­tish Coun­try Dance So­ci­ety).

It was called The Reel of the 51st Di­vi­sion, and be­came the first “new” (ie non-tra­di­tional) dance to be ac­cepted by the so­ci­ety.

The Reel of the 51st has long been one of the most pop­u­lar dances in the coun­try danc­ing reper­toire.

It is danced all over the world, and I have danced it in school and church halls as well as at grand balls in many places.

I have taught it to school­child­ren in Dundee, Fife and Perthshire – all of whom were told about its ori­gins and the ac­tion at St Valery.

Ear­lier this week, at a gather­ing of the Tay­side Scot­tish Coun­try Dance Club in Newport, we were re­mem­ber­ing those brave men as we danced the Reel of the 51st.

And yes, we talked about the events of 1940 be­fore we danced it. He­len Lawren­son. Bay Road, Wor­mit.

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