Her Majesty the Queen will be able to experience a musical medley reflecting decades of Scottish country dancing in the comfort of her own castle thanks to a special Christmas present heading her way from Banffshire.
A book and CD to commemorate 90 years of the Banffshire branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has been dispatched to Windsor Castle as a festive gift that rekindles the branch’s royal credentials.
Over 50 Banffshire dancers had an audience with the Queen when they were invited to perform at Balmoral Castle on the occasion of the group’s 80th year in 2010.
Branch stalwart Dr Anne McArthur said: “Undoubtedly our greatest highlight was in our 80th anniversary year, when 57 members travelled by bus to Balmoral to dance for the Queen and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
“We appreciate that Her Majesty, like the rest of the population, has had few opportunities to dance or socialise in 2020.
“So, we have done the next best thing and sent our book and CD to her at Windsor so she can safely enjoy being part of our celebrations in the comfort of her own castle.”
The group now runs 12 teacher-led classes across Aberdeenshire and Moray, holding a biennial festival of country dance in Elgin and dance days in schools as well as being a staple at the Portsoy Boat Festival.
Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have kept members off the dancefloor since March, but the creation of the special book and CD has helped them maintain their love of dance.
The dances were devised by past and present members while the contemporary pieces featured were all penned by well-known musicians, including James Alexander of Fochabers Fiddlers fame, Scottish dance band leader Frank Thomson and Bill Manclark, former head of music at Turriff Academy.
The Millbank Reel by Doris Hepburn was inspired by happy memories of children who attended Scottish country dance classes at Millbank Primary in Buckie.
Portsoy Links, meanwhile, takes its name from the setting of the town’s Salmon Bothy and was devised by Alison Smith from Banff, a volunteer and genealogist based at the museum visitor attraction.
The 12-track CD, produced by accordionist Ewan Galloway and featuring fiddler Shona MacFadyen, is a compilation of all the dances recorded in the book.
Mrs McArthur added: “This launch of our book and CD marks the final part of our 90th anniversary commemorations.
“Lockdown slowed things down, but we are really pleased with the final result.
“The CD is full of great tunes and we’ve launched it in time for Christmas. We really think it lives up to its name ‘A the best again fae Banffshire’.”
The book and CD, already winging their way to Windsor Castle, are available online from www.salmonbothy.org.