Summer Newsletter 2021

Moving Forwards

This summer newsletter brings once again lots of news including details on events, more archives and details of new webpages.

Trust HQ

Thanks to the Museum of East Anglian Life, we were able to make a gradual move off site to our new home at Red Gables and by the end of June everything had been moved across town.  We managed to recycle old furniture via the local Facebook Marketplace and local Stowmarket Freecycle group.  As a result our 5 desks, 2 filing cabinets and even the little old but still working fridge found new homes.  One desk went to a home office in Stowmarket which will be used as a walkie talkie charging hub for the Suffolk Lowland Search & Rescue charity. One of the local scout leaders took another two desks for a home office but in return offered a van and spare hands to help with the final move. 

We were very grateful to receive a donation enabling us to take on a third room which is situated on the ground floor of the building.  This gives us space to store equipment used for events and larger items such as the maypole.  It also provides an area for learning and research once we are in the position to make this possible and it can also double up as a good sized meeting room.

We are also very grateful to local IT firm CFB Solutions for providing a much needed daily back up service for the EATMT documents and for ensuring the computers can talk to each other now they have also settled into the new office.


Happy Birthday Cyril!

Cyril Barber Stepdancing –
Taken at the Norwich Playhouse in 2001 at the first event organised by Des Miller for Rig-a-Jig-Jig:
A Norfolk Music History Project

This July saw step dancer and musician Cyril Barber celebrate his 99th birthday.  Fellow musician Steve Matthews, a long standing friend of Cyril’s and EATMT supporter spoke to Cyril recently prompting Steve to dig out his old recordings of Cyril and friends.  Steve is hoping to get these digitised and we hope to share some of these wonderful memories at some stage in the future.

Steve Dumpleton

Many friends of Steve’s were grateful to have been provided the digital link to the celebration of his life on June 8th.  It was a beautiful service, one which Steve would have been very proud of.  His love of life and generous nature had clearly touched so many people’s lives.  Previous EATMT director, Katie Howson has contributed to an article about Steve and thanks to Steve’s Widow, Jan, we have also included the tune that Steve wrote for Katie and John Howson – “The Trip to Stowmarket”. You can read the article HERE.


Thanks to a few more donations, we have added a few more instruments to our popular Hire Scheme and have updated the web pages on this popular scheme.

Friend and musician Frances Smith donated not one but two fiddles (plus bows and cases) to EATMT – both of which are fine specimens!  One is a particularly fine instrument so it has had some work on it to put it into a good sale position and we will be selling this in the coming months (see below).  The second instrument has been added to the Hire library and we have also added Adrian Hilton’s fiddle from his bequest to the scheme. 

Sale fiddle – German (Saxony) 1920s £800 (including bow and case)

In addition, Friend and volunteer Alan Helsdon donated his small Bell Accordion to the Hire Scheme and that went out on loan just recently.  The Hohner Arietta accordion passed on to EATMT on long term loan by another Friend and supporter Vaughan Hartridge, has just been returned after a year-long free loan to a young local musician.  EATMT would like to offer this free year-long loan again so if you know a young person (u25) who might be interested, please do get in touch.

Funding News – Restart Grants

We have been delighted to have had support throughout the last 18 months of difficulty from our local district council.  In the last few months we learned that we had been successful with the Suffolk Community Restart Fund which was awarded by Mid Suffolk District Council and Babergh District Council.  We also were given a Discretionary Restart Grant from Mid Suffolk and this is on top of our regular annual revenue Grant that we apply for each year. 

The restart funding will give us the opportunity to purchase the necessary equipment to enable the digitising of the recordings we have been donated that are specific to East Anglia.  It will also provide some training for volunteers to assist with this digitising.  There is a small amount of funding for some temporary archiving assistance and it enables EATMT to move forwards with small events even if heading into autumn we are not able to run at full capacity.

This support is much welcomed and we are grateful for the continued support of our local town council – Stowmarket Town Council and our local District council.


TV Film Crew Trip to Cromer

After a long, extended cold and wet spring, the sun came out for a day of TV filming in Cromer in early June.  Chris Holderness, Richard Blake and Alan Helsdon were the house musicians, Rita Gallard and Sheila Park provided the jig doll percussion (Sheila with Harry Cox’s jig doll, Rita with a recently donated Mr Jollyboy (thank you Judy Smith!) and Fiona Davies added to the scene with some stepdancing. Puppeteer and singer Gemma Khawaja was also involved displaying her newly made fishermen puppets for an arts funded project.  Thanks to publican Ann and her team at the Cromer White Horse for their patience and hospitality.

The show will be aired in autumn and we will be able to give more information once we are given it.

Katie & John Howson update on their work post EATMT

As EATMT approaches the grand age of 21 years, we thought it might be a good time to catch up with Founders and past Directors Katie and John Howson. Read about their latest projects HERE.


With the much anticipated “freedom” day now past, we are now in a position to announce a few forthcoming events – 3 that we are organising and 3 that we will be involved in.

As this e-newsletter winds its way through the digital ether, the Burwell Bash will be in its second day. For an opportunity to catch the Tutors’ Concert on the final evening (Thursday 29th July, 8pm) please visit The Burwell Bash.

If you’re in the area of Holt, North Norfolk this coming Saturday (31st July), do pop in to the New Holt Bookshop – they are having an author event featuring Bruce Lindsay who will be talking about his book on Harry Cox and Sam Larner. There will be music provided by local musicians Chris Holderness and Alan Helsdon. For further details see HERE.

Strumpshaw Tree Festival – featuring traditional music and stepdancing on Sunday 15th August (event runs 14/15 August)
FOLKEAST – 20/21/22 August – As well as finding us within the Instrumental Stall area, we are delighted to be working in association with the festival organisers to bring several Stepdance workshops and a competition to the dance area.
Sale & Song in Stowmarket – Saturday 4th September. We will be running an afternoon sale of music, books and instruments with live music from Bristol Fashion and an Evening of Song with The John Ward Trio & Megan Wisdom.
Wingfield Harvest Festival – Sunday 10th October – We will be having a stall at this new event. Expect music, song and dance.
The Yarmouth Hornpipe – Saturday 16th October – Talk, music & dance with Chris Holderness, Alan Helsdon & Fiona Davies in Yarmouth.

For more details about the above events, please visit our EVENTS PAGE

Jig Dolls in care homes in Stowmarket

The new resource presentation for Care Homes has been received very positively in Stowmarket.  So far, Cedrus House Care Home, Chilton Meadows Care Home and the Redwoods Luncheon Club have taken up the offer of this free resource with a number of other homes booked in over the coming weeks.


The Chris Holderness Archive

We have uploaded a catalogue of almost each box file of archives from Chris onto the website.  Eventually this archive will be accessible either through visits to the Trust offices and/or digitally with the view to providing an educational resource. 

New articles that Chris has written and have been added to these pages are the Discographies of Harry Cox and Walter Pardon. 

Harry Cox and Walter Pardon

Over the early summer, 2021 has seen the 50th anniversary of Harry Cox’s death. This has been commemorated by EATMT by adding articles to the website which includes recordings of Harry singing – one which does not appear to have been heard before.  We are very grateful to the family of John Halliday who passed on John’s books and recordings to EATMT.  It was in this box of various items that several reel to reel tapes were found – this particular one was unlabelled so imagine the joy when we realised who was singing!

You can find the article here – Remembering Harry Cox

It was also the 25th anniversary of Walter Pardon’s death and whilst considering what to include in an article about Walter, it became apparent that several people wanted to contribute.  Included in our pages commemorating this wonderful singer are articles written by Damien Barber and Alan Helsdon.  There is also a transcription of a recording of Walter made by Sheila Park in the 1970s.  Eventually we hope to get this recording digitised and uploaded onto the website.   In addition, we came into contact with musicians and collectors Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie who were good friends of Walter.  Jim and Pat are now in the process of digitising their recordings of their meetings with several East Anglian musicians and singers and there are very keen to lodge these recordings and photographs with EATMT so these important collections are conserved for the future generations.  Jim has also kindly given permission for EATMT to reproduce his 2007 article “Walter Pardon – A Simple Countryman?” which is also available to read on the website.

You can find the articles making up this commemoration here – Remembering Walter Pardon

Pete Jennings

Local musician, broadcaster, author and folklorist Pete visited EATMT with a number of vinyl records and CDs of key East Anglian musicians and singers.  He also kindly had compiled a list of records and CDs that he felt EATMT should have a copy of.  In addition, he donated a jig doll made by maker Vernon Rose.  Having spent a long time involved in folk and traditional music, Pete very kindly agreed to write an article on ‘his life in folk’ and this can now be read HERE – A Life in Folk.


New articles on Concertinas

We were delighted to have three articles contributed to spotlight ‘the Concertina’ – Roger Digby, Sally Barrett and Mary Humphreys all very kindly gave their time and expertise and together these articles we hope go some way to demystifying the various systems that make up the concertina family. This article can be found HERE which is firmly set in the East Anglian Traditions/Instruments section of the website.


Song and Ale Tapes – Dave Cooper Collection

In an attempt to digitise what we thought were local “Song and Ale” tapes, we accidentally stumbled upon some wonderful chorus songs which in fact were recordings of the Whittlebury Song and Ale annual festival that ran from 1988 until 2016.  The collection was Dave Cooper’s which he purchased each year he attended the festival. On one of these tapes we found a lovely recording of past Friend and supporter Adrian Hilton who had bequeathed his ‘hoard’ of instruments to EATMT.  Thanks to his widow Ann, we were able to find a home for these tapes.  We have also added the singing of Adrian to his webpage “Hilton’s Hoard”.

Reintroducing Jig Dolls to the Netherlands

In the late spring, EATMT was contacted by Martin Judkins from the not for profit organisation St. Samen Voor Elkaar in the Netherlands which strives to bring folk traditions back into the public eye and make them accessible to all.

Martin’s interest in Jig Dolls has been recently reignited and EATMT has been sharing experiences of taking Jig Dolls into the community. In return for this sharing of information, Martin has kindly written an article about his work in the Netherlands. Martin’s passion for these delightful wooden dancing dolls resulted in the family of UK maker Goff Evans passing over Goff’s entire collection of designs, templates and materials to the organisation. The organisation is now in the process of making dolls to sell, creating a library of jig dolls to loan to others and generally is raising the profile in the country.

To read more about Martin’s journey read his article HERE.

Keep up to date

Do keep checking our website over the coming months with our plans for bringing events to you.  For an up to date listing of events across the region, look no further than Mardles online.

There will be mixed feelings about returning to live events – both among organisers and as ticket holders – it’s to be expected.  Many organisations are on the brink of collapse and are trying to re-open in a mindful, sensible way.  Do try and support these organisations (‘use or lose’) where you can.  We are all too aware of how precious ‘The Arts’ are and what good they bring to each of us when available. We are also now aware of the knock on effect to our mental health when this good is prevented from happening. Let’s hope we can move forward with care and kindness and show support all round.

Thanks – A shout out!

The last three months have been very demanding and without the help, guidance and support of the following people, EATMT would not be able to share its achievements with you all:

Eammon & Judy Andrews, Anne Bacon, Damien Barber, Sally Barrett, Colin Beggerow, Richard Blake, Jim Carroll, Ivan Cutting, Fiona Davies, Roger Digby, Royston Emerson, Rita Gallard, Shirley Harry, Alan Helsdon, Ann Hilton, Chris Holderness, Katie & John Howson, Mary Humphreys, Pete Jennings, Ross Kelly, Gemma Khawaja, Nicola Lancaster, Pat Mackenzie, Steve Matthews, Sheila Park, Steve Roud, Frances Smith, Judy Smith, Miriam Stead, Nina Truin, Ellie West.  We hope we have included everyone that has got involved over the last few months – apologies if anyone has been missed off!

2020-2021 Supporter Thanks 

click for the homepage

Friends and Supporters of EATMT


As ever, we are extremely grateful to our supporters who have taken out a Friends’ membership with EATMT. This is an annual subscription of £15 and since its existence has been a vital part of our income. In addition, we are able to claim back Gift Aid through this scheme. Your support is invaluable and is very much appreciated. If you’re not yet a Friend or if you are a lapsed Friend, please do consider joining/re joining. You will benefit from cheaper event tickets and early bird booking as well as knowing that your contribution to the Trust helps keep traditions alive. Find our Friends’ membership form here.

Other ways to help

EATMT is a member of Recycle4charity.  If you are working from home, you will likely be using up the ink in your home printers far quicker than normal.  These can be recycled. BUT the system has changed.  This company is no longer accepting the envelopes that we previously sent out.  Instead you will need to go directly to their website and print off a label to get your free postage.  As a sweetener for your extra efforts, the Trust is promised almost twice as much back per ink jet cartridge than previously, so please do consider this option.     
Please do get in touch if you would like to get involved in the Trust’s work.  We rely heavily on volunteers but more than that, we rely heavily on your knowledge based input.  We’d love to hear from you! 

Wishing you all a safe return to music, song, storytelling and dance.

Alex Bartholomew, Administrator and the EATMT Trustees