George Ferrier started learning Scottish country dancing in the village hall in Forfar, a small town less than 75 miles north of Edinburgh. His mother had taken him along to the meeting and Ferrier learned the steps at the tender age of seven.
He continued dancing until he left for boarding school two years later. After working abroad as a ship surveyor in Macedonia, China and Korea, Ferrier returned to the UK and resumed his childhood hobby more than 40 years after he began.
Ferrier is now the chairman for the Croydon branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. The Society was established in 1923 and has over 21,000 members across the world, with 21 branches in the UK. For Ferrier, dancing is all about keeping Scottish culture alive. He believes that Scotland is “culturally a separate country”.
He said: “I think all nationalities should keep their traditional culture going because it keeps your identity. It’s something you need and once you lose it…you’ve lost it for good.”
However, Ferrier separates his interest in Scottish culture from his views on the upcoming referendum on Thursday. He said: “I don’t think too much about it in many ways because I have no say in the matter. The referendum should not affect Scottish country dancing in any way. People enjoy dancing…you’ve got to keep your own heritage.”
The Croydon branch of the society has been around for more than 60 years. There are currently 64 members, ranging in age from 30-80. Ferrier estimates about 50 to 60 percent of the dancers have “some Scottish connection”, while others simply enjoy the activity.
Scottish country dancing spread after WW2 as people settled down in new areas and began meetings. RSCDF has standardised the steps with local Scottish country dance groups in America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Estonia and Russia.
The new dance term begins Friday 20 September, 2014 at 8pm St Andrews Church Hall, Coulsdon. For more information go to www.rscdscroydon.org.uk/index.htm