Update: The Banks of Green Willow project is now over. We’d like to thank our main sponsor, Lee Hallam, for making this possible. In addition many thanks go to Joe Dunn, who organised the majority of the project.
Fool’s Gambit is privileged to have been part of the Banks of Green Willow, a project commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. In 1916, four of Cecil Sharp’s demonstration team died within weeks of each other on the Somme, changing the course of Morris dancing in the 20th century. We aim to celebrate the lives of these men and their contribution to the development of English folk dance.
The name of the project comes from George Butterworth’s composition of the same name, one of the most quintessentially British pieces of orchestral music. The main themes from this piece will be used in our show.
Our performance will consist of music, song and dance, both traditional and modern. Several dances are mentioned in letters home from the front, including jigs and a longsword dance, and we will be recreating these. We have also written some new dances, and adapted others, to represent various aspects of the war.
The main focus of the project was a visit to France in July 2016, where we performed at several prestigious venues, including the Thiepval Memorial, the International Memorial at Notre Dame de Lorette and as part of the Pozière Son et Lumière. We also made several performances in the UK, including at Tiddy Hall in Ascott-Under-Wychwood, the home of one of Sharp’s team, and at Cecil Sharp House. Fool’s Gambit Morris are very grateful to our main sponsor, Lee Hallam for making this project possible.
Our principal sponsor was Lee Hallam, CEO of Linbrooke Services. Lee founded the company in 2002 specialising in telecoms. signalling and power in the rail, utilities and subsea sectors, after spending 7 years in the Royal Marines. In 2004, Linbrooke established an academy which has to date trained over a thousand engineers, including injured and ex service personnel.
I was fascinated to learn of the pioneering work of Daisy Caroline Dakin and others in the English Folk Dance Society in the rehabilitation of injured service personnel in World War 1. It was the forerunner of the ‘Decompression’ techniques that are used today. Fool’s Gambit together with Folkinmotion are compiling a moving and fitting tribute to these men and women which will also honour the four men of the first demonstration team, who were sadly killed in action in 1916. This will involve a 5 day visit to France in July 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. As many of the group are of school age or full time students, they are looking for sponsorship to assist with travel and accommodation. I am delighted to sponsor the project and would encourage you to do the same through the donation facility on the website.