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Haddenham Ceilidhs' Final Chords

by Haddenham Webteam – 3rd December 2017
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haddenham ceilidhs organising team

Saturday 2nd December 2017 saw the final expression of a long-standing village institution – the last event in a series of Haddenham Ceilidhs that has been ongoing for no less than 45 years.

During that time, the village hall has hosted not only an impressive number of highly accomplished ceilidh dance bands and callers but also some truly impressive folk artistes – many of whom have also appeared at some of the UK's most prestigious folk festivals and locations beyond the humble Haddenham venue.

A major driver and organiser over all these years is the former resident and current village hall user group chairman, John Heydon. It has been John's dedication and effort, not to mention his very strong links throughout the world of UK folk music, that have been key elements in the long-term success of the Haddenham Ceilidhs.

So it is fitting that our website should offer a tribute and a sincere vote of thanks to John, on behalf of the Haddenham community, for all his hard work over the last 45 years.

Before Haddenham Ceilidhs...

John Heydon lived in Harrow where he organised the Herga Folk Club. The Club diversified, formed a morris dance side and started to run ceilidhs on the first Friday of the month in Pinner.

He moved to Haddenham in 1971 but continued running the Pinner Ceilidhs until 1974 and the Herga Folk Club up to 1989.

It was when John moved to Haddenham that he discovered Haddenham Village Hall and thought: "Wow, what a venue for ceilidhs!" and started a monthly series. They have continued ever since.

The Haddenham Ceilidhs Timeline

  • December 1972: First Ceilidh
  • October 1983: Concerts in the Walter Rose Room in addition to Ceilidhs in the main hall
  • Decemeber 1983: First Haddenham Festival
  • January 1984: First early evening concert before main Ceilidh
  • December 1986: First New Years Eve Extravaganza
  • December 1987: First Craft Fayre incorporated into the 5th Haddenham Festival where sought to make available some of the best of our National Crafts. Sadly it is no longer organised
  • January 1994: New years Day Madness – an event following straight on after New Years Eve- Almost a 24 hour Marathon!
  • January 2002: New Years Day Evening Millennium Ceilidh
  • December 2012: The 40th anniversary of the Ceilidhs and the 30th Festival celebrations
  • April 2013: 400th Ceilidh
  • December 2017: 439th Ceilidh and grand finale celebrations

But all good things must come to an end ...

As John reflects: "We have had a great time over the last 45 years. It was quite an adventure in starting the ceilidhs on a regular monthly basis in December 1972. The ceilidhs in Pinner were still being run on the first Friday of the month and it was on these ceilidhs that the formula was set."

"We looked to cater for those both young and old. The continuity of a regular date and venue, keeping the atmosphere informal but always starting on time and using good lively bands that played good tunes ensured successful evenings."

"Although dancing was the main part of the evening, we were pleased that we were able to give people a breather with displays of ritual dancing and an opportunity to hear some of the best folk singers and the musicians in the country. For those wanting a longer breather, the Walter Rose room was available for an acoustic concert."

The organisation was run on a totally voluntary basis and any profits generated from the bar and other activities helped ensure the continuity of the ceilidhs. None of this would have been possible without the support of all our helpers who ensured everyone had a great evening. Without them, there is no way the ceilidhs could have survived for 45 years. Thank you everyone."

And on behalf of the community of Haddenham, we offer our warmest thanks and appreciation to you, John Heydon.

Photo: The image features members of the organising committee, responsible for hosting the final event.
Top row, Left to Right: Derek Burgess, Tim Rooke, Tim Brooks, Mark Wallace, Barbara Hayes and Andrew Hearsey
Bottom row, Left to Right: Becca Vernon, Kitty Vernon (no relation), John Heydon and Sue Rooke

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