Charity based in Honiton shines the spotlight on the ‘crucial’’ community role of social groups after dancers donate £550 to Devon Freewheelers

A charity based in Honiton is highlighting the ‘crucial’’ community role of social groups after dancers donated £550 to Devon Freewheelers.

The Devon Blood Bikes service, with its headquarters in Honiton, is backing the Torquay and District Scottish Society’s drive to recruit younger members in a bid to preserve tradition and pass it down to the next generation.

The Devon Freewheelers learned of the social group’s plight after the Torquay and District Scottish Society presented the charity with a £550 donation.

Russell Roe, Devon Freewheelers deputy CEO, said: “Retaining social groups such as the Torquay and District Scottish Society is crucial. They raise vital funds for charities, play an important role in the community, offer regular support and companionship for their members, and help preserve traditions that would otherwise be lost forever.

“We wish the Torquay and District Scottish Society every success with its recruitment drive and hope the group continues for many years to come.”

Mr Roe added: “The Devon Freewheelers volunteers are so grateful the group chose to support the Devon Blood Bikes with a donation.”

The dance group, founded in 1911, hopes to attract fresh blood willing to learn – and teach – traditional Scottish moves.

Those keen to find out more are welcome to go along for a dance taster session, or to watch and meet the members.

Torquay and District Scottish Society president John Ceely said members have been relying on learning new dances from written directions; the club’s long-term instructor recently died from coronavirus.

Mr Ceely said: “I am still trying to lead the dances by reading instructions from pieces of paper. You can go online and get different dances so we are not short of the information. It’s just the expertise. We do have some older members who show us what to do, so we get by.

“When the group started in 1911 it was very large with big numbers. Nowadays it’s very small. There are a few Scottish people and there are people like me – a Yorkshire president of a Scottish society – who joined for the country dancing.

“We welcome anyone, right from beginners. We’re not dressed in kilts. It’s low-key, no pressure, country dancing. It’s fun, it’s exercise, it’s social. It’s a very welcoming group.

“If we had some new and younger members it would make the place buzz more. We need a younger input and we are encouraging younger people to come along.”

The group dances once a week, and also hosts other social events, get-togethers, and trips out.

  • The Torquay and District Scottish Society meets at 2pm each Monday, at St Luke’s Church Hall, in St Luke’s Road, Torquay.

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