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Woodcraft FolkHebden Bridge Woodcraft Folk celebrates 25 years

Monday, 31 October 2016

November marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of Hebden Bridge Woodcraft Folk, and over the years since 1991 many hundreds of local children, young people and adults have taken part in the life of this unique organisation, which is affiliated to the national Woodcraft Folk educational charity.

To celebrate, all current and ex-Woodies and friends are invited to join in special birthday celebrations at the Hebden Bridge Town Hall's Waterfront Hall on Saturday 19 November.


Tie-dye - early 21st century

The event kicks off at 4.30pm with a session of games, songs and dancing particularly focused at children. Children who attend the town's current Woodcraft Folk group (held on Thursdays at the Salem Mill centre) will be demonstrating some of the activities they undertake at Woodcraft Folk evenings and other children and their parents who are interested in finding out more are invited to come along and share the fun. There are strong rumours that the afternoon event (which is free and which will finish at 7pm) may also include the cutting and eating of a celebratory 25th birthday cake.

For adults and older young people, the celebrations continue into the evening, with a ceilidh. Food will be provided as part of the admission price. A bar will also be open.

Letter to Bush

From Hebden Bridge Woodcraft Folk Group
to President Bush - early 21st century - see full letter

George Kidd, one of the organisers of the event, says: "For twenty-five years the Woodcraft Folk has been a feature of local life, and we now have children coming to group nights whose parents were themselves singing campfire songs and undertaking craft activities when they were children. We're proud of what the Woodcraft Folk, with its longstanding commitment to co-operation, international friendship, peace and equality, has been able to achieve during this quarter-century. Our party on the 19th looks like being a good one!"

The first Woodcraft Folk group locally opened for primary school age children on an evening in November 1991, at what was then the Hebden Bridge Youth Centre. Several venue changes later, the group now operates from the Salem centre, having had its ground floor clubroom flooded in the Boxing Day floods last year.

One early achievement was the opening of the Height Gate camping barn, on the hillside just north of Stoodley Pike, which continues to provide simple hostel-type accommodation both for local Woodcraft children and for parties from further afield.

Height Gate Opening

Above: 10 October 1999 - opening of Height Gate by Martin Wainwright
of The Guardian and Chris McCafferty MP planting a rowan tree

Camping is a central part of the Woodcraft Folk's educational programme, and local children and young people have taken part in local, regional, national and even international mass camps. A Hebden Bridge Woodcraft Folk camp held at nearby Colden was even the focal point of a BBC Countryfile feature, broadcast in the late 1990s.

A host of old, and not-so-old, photographs of these and other events have been unearthed and will be on display at the Waterfront Hall during the celebrations. Those at the evening ceilidh will also be able to enjoy food cooked by Julian Harber, who was the adult leader coordinating the camp meals at the time the BBC came calling. To enable Julian to cater for the right numbers, all people wanting to come are asked to buy their tickets very soon. Tickets, which cost between £5 and £9, can be bought online here or in person from 2 Hebble End, Hebden Bridge (on the towpath near the coop)

See also

YouTube video of Hebden Bridge Woodcraft Folk on Countryfile.

Letter to President Bush