Sheffield sword dancing festive fun

Wowed: The group perform their traditional display for crowds in Handsworth on Boxing Day.                                             PICTURES: PETER WOLSTENHOLME.
Wowed: The group perform their traditional display for crowds in Handsworth on Boxing Day. PICTURES: PETER WOLSTENHOLME.

THEY’VE danced all over the world and at every kind of event.

But, away from the glamour of London’s Albert Hall and the far-flung attractions of festivals in France or Germany, there’s one very special place the Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers always return to each year.

And the troupe of folk dancers once again turned out to dazzle the crowds outside St Mary’s Church in Handsworth, Sheffield, with their intricate displays to mark the festive period.

The dancers – which features men ranging in age from just seven to a sprightly 70 – performed their long sword dance to lively music with their traditional military-style uniforms and swords.

They have been performing and delighting crowds with sword dancing, carols and mummers plays in the Handsworth and Woodhouse areas for more than a century.

One pair of members, dedicated Les Seaman and Patrick Malham, have taken part in every single performance for the last 50 years.

The group is now appealing for anybody who witnessed their very first display, which took place in Handsworth Church in 1963, to come forward with their memories.

It is also desperately searching for fresh blood to keep the unique tradition of sword dancing alive in the area for future generations.

The only requirement for new members is that they are reasonably fit.

Group members meet every Wednesday night to practise in the Handsworth Parish Centre from 8pm to 10pm.

n Those interested should contact the group secretary on 07910913721. Alternatively email handsworthsword@yahoo.co.uk for more information.