MEET the new Lord of the Ring, who has danced his way to a top job to keep one of England’s oldest traditions alive.
Peter Halfpenney, from North Anston, has just been appointed to the highest office in the Morris Ring.
A member of the Harthill Morris Men since 1980, he has been named as the 36th Squire of the Morris Ring, an international organisation made up of more than 200 men’s Morris groups, or “sides,” which is dedicated to keeping the dance alive and taking it out to the public.
Peter (55) sees his new role, a kind of “managing director of the ring,” as a challenge to breathe new life and bring new blood into the Morris Ring, which was formed in 1934.
He plans to visit as many sides as possible during his two years in office, spreading his “Come and join us” message.
He became Squire-Elect at the recent annual meeting of the Morris Ring in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, and formally takes over his post as Squire at the Castleford Ring Meeting in Selby in September.
During his time with the Harthill team, formed in 1976, he has been Squire of the side three times and Bagman (secretary) and Old Man (chairman) each on two occasions.
Peter has also been keen to spread the magic of the Morris overseas, organising a party of 35 men on a trip to Spain in 2006, and last year, he took a party of 24 on a highly successful visit to Kinnaird Castle, in Brechin, Scotland—a trip they are repeating this year.
He said: “I regard my appointment as Squire of the Ring as a great honour and I am very mindful that I am following in a long tradition of men who have worked tirelessly to keep the dance alive and vibrant.
“I recognise the need to bring new and younger members into the Morris and a recruitment drive will be high on my agenda.”
So what can a budding Morris man expect to get out of a tradition whose origins are lost in the mists of time?
“For a start it keeps me fit,” said Peter. “The social aspects are innumerable and you can add to that I have made friends with some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life through the Morris.”
Neil Fretwell, Bagman of the Harthill side, said: “Peter’s appointment is a momentous occasion for us.
“It is the highest office in the Ring and it will not only benefit our side, but our village and the whole surrounding area.”
If you fancy joining Peter in keeping one of England's oldest traditions flourishing or even learning to play an instrument to accompany the dancing, contact Neil Fretwell on 01909 770590.
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