A GROUP that was formed to help hospital patients to keep fit through dance is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

The Hereford Scottish Country Dance Club was officially formed in 1949 but derived from the ideas of the County Hospital's "superintendent physiotherapist" at the end of the Second World War.

He organised keep fit classes, which included "old time dancing" for both patients and staff, and these caught the attention of Wing Commander Douglas Henderson from Credenhill.

He suggested that Scottish Country Dancing be introduced and from 1946 there were weekly classes. Mr Henderson left for Africa the following year and was succeeded by the then Mayor, Leslie Cooper, who had returned from the Seaforth Highlanders.

Local interest was sufficiently great to form a Hereford club in 1949 under the Mayor's presidency before the group became affiliated to the Royal Scottish Dance Society in 1952.

Classed would later take place at the girls' high school on Blueschool Street under the instruction of a Mr MacCalman and, by 1961, there were classes for children who were taught reels and jigs.

The club has, over the years, taken part in various competitions and festivals, and performed at visits organised by the Hereford Twinning Association.

Members currently meet at the Hampton Park Reformed Church in Thursday evenings from September to May – and still perform at dances in the county and further afield.

The 70th anniversary celebrations began with a ball at the Shirehall last month and there are plans to hold a tea party later in the summer to which all past and present members are invited.

For further details on that event, and the club in general, please call 01432 267356.