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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.


Dick Taylor  2012

Caller, Dick Taylor was presented the Tommy Cavanagh Award at the AGM on 11 March 2012. The Tommy Cavanagh Award is presented by the Callers Club of Great Britain in recognition of many years of consistent, selfless and untiring dedication to the square dance activity in the United Kingdom. This was only the second time in our club‟s history that this prestigious award has been presented. Though it was decided by the council members that Dick Taylor should receive the award, the council asked long-time member Dave Woolerton make the presentation as Dave has been around to witness, appreciate and benefit from Dick Taylor‟s efforts, possibly to a greater extent than most of us. The following is basically what Dave had to say about Dick Taylor.

Dick started square dancing in the late 60‟s, joined Caller‟s Club in the early part of 1970 and was elected PRO in April 1970. He held that post until April 1973 when he took on the office of Secretary and held that position for the, then record breaking, term of eleven years until 1984 when he took a bit of a rest and stepped down to Ordinary Member for three more years until 1987. That is seventeen years of continuous council service to Caller‟s Club and Square Dancing. But it doesn‟t stop there because in November 1971 Dick took over the editorship of the Newsletter and continued with that until at least January of 1978 again establishing new records for length of time of editorship and magazines produced over more than 6 years (about fifteen issues of the magazine and about a dozen separate sets of note service magazines which were as big or bigger than the newsletter itself. The quality and content of these note service magazines was better than anything that had been offered before and equal to anything that has been offered since. This means that Dick Taylor acted as both the Newsletter Editor and the Secretary of about five years... a feat that hasn‟t been equalled by any other Caller‟s Club member. Keep in mind that this was all pre-computer when everything had to be typed and pasted-up manually. This had to have been a massive effort.

Around 1986, whilst still an active Council Member, Dick became involved with and instrumental in the setting up of W.E.R.C.A. He served a short stint as Treasurer before becoming Secretary of W.E.R.C.A. which he remained as until February 2011, giving a service to W.E.R.C.A. of twenty-five years.

Not all of Dick Taylor‟s contributions to the activity directly involved Caller‟s Club or W.E.R.C.A. He ran at least one Square Dance Club for at least twenty-one years, calling and teaching everything from Basic through Advanced 2 to the lucky people of Gloucestershire


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.