It is with great sadness and not a little shock that we report the sudden death of Ken Johnson, Morris dancer, folk singer and (pictured here as) 'Queen' of Winster Morris. He had been a member of Winster Morris Dancers for many years and was also a founder member of Chesterfield Morris Men. The day he died Ken had gone to Lichfield Folk Festival with his ex-wife Vicky and her husband Trevor. Vicky said: “Ken was in very good spirits, he’d not been ill and had had a very good day. We dropped him off afterwards, then realised that he’d left his phone in the car. I rang him but got no reply. When Trevor was unable to get into Ken’s home at Alexandra Road West in Brampton, the police and paramedics were called. Ken was found sitting in a chair looking like he was having a nap. I'm not sad for Ken because he was spared the indignity of illness and was in no pain, but we will miss him terribly."
Ken was a born entertainer who loved being the star of the show. He was a folk singer with a huge traditional repertoire and a wonderful raconteur who loved the company of others. One of his favourite sayings was ‘Life's too short to be drinking out of the wrong-shaped glass’.
Ken, who was brought up in Ashover, first became interested in folk music as a teenager. He attended a John Tams' folk club in Alfreton and later supported clubs in Bolsover and Chesterfield. He was in a group called Cat’s Whiskers and was a member of Rolling Stock choir. Carols were Ken's passion and he would travel to Eyam, Castleton and Worrall in Sheffield to join in the seasonal songs that were native to those villages. In his working life Ken was a metallurgist working at Coalite, in Clay Cross and later worked at Netto.
Winster Morris is very sorry to hear of the death of Pat Malham who passed away peacefully on Friday 7th August. He had spent his last few days with his wife Margaret at her care home. He died while he was waiting for his first session of dialysis at the Northern General Hospital.
Pat taught modern languages at Ecclesfield Grammar School, but he was known to us in Winster as someone who was a real enthusiast for Morris and other rural traditions. His concertina playing was always welcome with Winster musicians and his quiet and warm friendship to all the dancers. He danced with Handsworth Sword Dancers before coming to Winster. He was a quiet, calm, generous and very friendly man who was a great asset to so many groups and good causes that he was involved in. He loved folk festivals and Winster dancers remember happy hours with him at Whitby during festival time.
Pat was fascinated by tram systems and spent a happy day travelling the length of the Bad Durkheim-Mannheim-Heidelberg-Weinheim tram (with his host who worked for the tram company) during a visit to our twin village of Ungstein in the Pfaltz of Germany. Frank Mason remembers spending time with Pat travelling the tram route too. He came with us to Lithuania in the 1990s where, in Kaunas he inspired great friendship with his hosts. He was also on our long trip to Roumania.
Latterly, his duty of care to his wife Margaret meant that he could not join us to dance so often. But he was a lovely man and we shall all miss him greatly at Winster Morris..
Brian had a bumpy start in life because his father was a prisoner of war for five years. But his childhood was happy. He worked in local government in various London boroughs before moving to Derbyshire as Deputy County Personnel Officer.
Brian loved rugby and was always wearing his 'Old Walcountians' scarf. He loved friends, DIY and camping holidays and, later in life, singing. In Winster Brian loved dancing with the Morris and entertaining with the Guisers. His Wakes Week performances of 'Harold with his hand up his hawk on his horse' are legendary. So was his 'Grand Erection' party held to celebrate the construction of his garden shed. He was a joker, a mischief maker and could tell a good tale. He led groups on cross-country skiing trips in Norway and, later in life, he discovered golf and joined a mixed ability choir.
Jean and Brian had many years of life together and instilled kindness, caring, fun and an adventurous spirit into their children. Brian supported the Greenaway Workshop in Darley Dale which supports people with long term health conditions.
He was an important member of Winster Morris for many years. He was always ready to dance provided we could manage 'a full eight' - he wouldn't dance in a 'six' on principle. He was witty and great fun with a wonderfully mournful joie de vivre. He will be much missed by everyone in Winster that knew him.
Remembering: Trevor Denyer
Trevor and Michelle came to live in Derbyshire, in the early 1980s. They had both grown up in Lewes, East Sussex, where they had got together despite their families being from rival bonfire societies in the town. (Think Romeo and Juliet!) Michelle was a nurse and Trevor a chef. Richard Bryant remembers that they lived in a house at Crich Common belonging to the local Quaker Meeting, and then in another Quaker house by the canal at Whatstandwell.
Michelle joined Chesterfield Garland Dancers and Trevor would show up from time to time at dance gatherings in Chesterfield. He was not a team dancer himself at that point, but he was tempted him to give it a go when Winster Morris joined with Tansley in an exchange with Babadag in Romania. Their daughter Veronica was born in Romania, so Trevor and Michelle's family wanted to join in. He danced with Winster in the 1990s and went to Babadag in 2000. After that his Morris Dance career took off. He joined Boggart's Breakfast in Sheffield as well, going blue in the face, but continued to bring his exuberant dancing to Winster's more gentle, traditional style His sons Mac and Finn both had a go too.
Later, the Denyer family moved to Matlock, where Trevor opened The Green Way vegetarian cafe-restaurant, which so many of us enjoyed over the years. Trevor only danced out with us once or twice after women joined Winster Morris a few years ago, but this was a development he had long supported. He was a lovely man with a quiet, warm and strong personality and we shall miss dancing with him very much.