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Tommy Cavanagh Award

Peter Skiffins 2013

Pete Skiffins shown receiving the Tommy Cavanagh Award from Simon and Trudy Fielding on 17th March 2013.

Pete began dancing in 1956. He began calling in 1958 and became a regular visitor at local clubs with his box of records.  He began to call regularly at Wheel and Star in Chingford, Circle and Swing and Up to the Centre.  Finally he opened his own club, Waggoners 50, which has maintained it's status as a Mainstream club ever since.  Pete has never hidden his view that the mainstream programme holds the life blood of Square dancing, feeling that the race to higher programmes would eventually destabilise the activity.

Pete became Training Officer for Callers Club in 1977 in which position he served until 2002.  Alongside this post he was Vice President from 1990, (Alan Covacic being President), then as President from 1993 until 2002 with Al Green as his Vice President.   Throughout those years  Al Green was Pete's strongest supporter,  both giving  their time freely for all the work they did for the membership and Callers Club.

Pete joined CALLERLAB in 1979, attending the Conventions in 1979 and 1980.
In 1980 he organised a Callers School in Essex with Bill Peters  from the US as 
the coach.  In 1982, 3, and 4 he ran year long courses alongside the Callers
Club bi-monthly meetings.  This involved taking students into a class
room for the whole day to teach the fundamentals of the
calling craft, first at Bounds Green School and from 1983 at                              White Heart Lane School.

He finally decided to put a stop to the schools in this format                because it meant that both he and the students were missing out on the Bi-monthly             Meetings being held in the main hall. From then on he held an hours improver's session       at the beginning      of the bi-monthly meetings. 

In May 1992 there was the never to be forgotten weekend at a           Performing Arts Centre at Bubworth in Yorkshire where, in spite of the tutor having attended at least one Square Dance, the course didn't quite live up to our expectations. Pete's idea had been for us to gain experience in stage craft, confidence, developing a stage personality and voice production etc. After some, what we considered, irrelevant tutorials Pete tried his best to bring the course back on the track he desired. His suggestions only enraged the tutor and sadly the weekend finished with our ignominious departure first thing Sunday morning, leaving us all giggling like naughty school children.

In 1994 the second MINILAB was held in the UK. Once the initial agreements were made Pete and Beryl insisted upon organising the event themselves. They booked the Hickstead Hotel, planned the programme of Presentations and the Saturday evening Banquet, complete with kilted piper leading in a large Baron of Beef. They dealt with the travel arrangements of the representatives of the CALLERLAB Board of Governors who seemed unable to commit to booking their flights. They dealt with the Delegates booking to attend the MINILAB from both the UK and Europe. All that planning worked perfectly and it was a most memorable occasion but the stress didn't do Pete's health much good.
He continued to pursue his plan to become a CALLERLAB Accredited Caller Coach and to implement this aim he organised two schools with Al Stevens, already coaching in Germany, and these were held in hotels in Datchet in 2001 and at Alton in 2002.

Sadly Pete never got to be an Accredited Caller Coach due to family commitments and health problems so we can only guess at the loss that has been to our organisation.

Pete retired from Waggoners in 2006 leaving the club in the capable hands of Trudy and Simon. Having recovered his strength Pete is now happily engaged in Calling Square dance Parties 2 or three times most weekends thereby continuing to introduce the public to the fun to be had from our favourite activity.

I'm sure I've not mentioned half of the things he made happen during his years in office but having worked on the Council with Pete all those years I can honestly say that no one better deserves our respect for his commitment to excellence.


Susie Kelly 2010

Caller, Susie Kelly was presented the Tommy Cavanagh Award on 7 March 2010. 

She is the first to receive this most prestigious award which has never before been awarded in the history of Callers Club. Susie's Hard work and extensive contributions over many years have had a far-reaching and positive impact on the square dancing activity across the entire United Kingdom.

Susie's diligence, leadership and unselfish attitude stand as a shining example to us all.