Our History

The Guildford Scottish Country Dance Club was born out of the West Surrey Scottish Dancing Group, first formed in the 1950's by Captain Oswald Meredith.  A former naval officer, Oswald believed in doing things thoroughly, so went to the RSCDS Summer School at St Andrews and gained his Teaching Certificate.

 

Not long after, the West Surrey Group lost the use of the hall they had been using, so Oswald found that Onslow Village hall was available provided the meetings were held on Mondays, which has been the case ever since.  From the early days, members of the Group were encouraged to dance well, and the atmosphere was very friendly and sociable.  The Group started running a couple of dinner dances a year, mostly held at the Huts Hotel, Hindhead.

When Oswald and his wife decided to move to Spain to live the continuation of the Group was in some doubt, but Walter McLaren stepped forward and offered to organise it from September 1971.  The Club had never had a formal committee, but three prominent members ran it for many years - Walter organised the dances and instruction, Howard Dorey the music and Keith Blake the accounts.  Guest teachers were invited periodically.  Membership grew, the Club continued to run dinner dances and an annual ball, and with other local clubs organised the annual West Surrey Highland Ball.

From the early days the Club had been “couples only”.  Around the turn of the millennium this rule was finally relaxed bringing an influx of new members, including people from the Guildford Reel Club when their leaders retired.  After 31 years organising the dancing, Walter handed over leadership to Paul Plummer in September 2002.  The Club was still not formally constituted, so at Paul’s suggestion Roger Hills who had been acting as Social Secretary set about organising a formal Club structure with an elected Committee.  Under the name of Guildford Scottish Country Dance Club, the first AGM was held in March 2004, a constitution was adopted and a committee elected with Roger as the first Chairman.

At this time no formal dances had been held for some years, so the new Committee set about organising a Spring Dance to be held in May 2006 in Normandy Village Hall, with Craigellachie playing.  It was a great success, and has become an annual event, often with a visiting band from Scotland.

Paul decided to step down from his teacher/MC duties in May 2009 when the Committee appointed four MCs to share the duties in future:  John Clack, Colin Duncan, Peter Loveland and Catherine Smith.  Catherine took a break in 2012 as she and her husband went to live in Germany for a while, and Margret Plummer took her place.  Catherine came back early in 2015 and for the next 18 months there were five MCs, until Margret moved on in 2016.

As of the premature end of the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Club had 74 Members, not counting occasional guests.  Captain Meredith would certainly be proud of what he had started nearly 70 years before.

List of Officers and Committee