When Derek rang me on Monday morning to tell me that Yvonne had died, I found it very hard to take in. It made me think of all the good times that she helped to introduced me to because of her involvement in Scottish Country Dancing.
Memories came flooding back of when I was very young in my dancing career and she didn’t know me from Adam, but she quietly gave me a lot of encouragement and helped with my confidence because I came to this discipline in my late 50s. As time went by, I learned she had many strings to her bow. She had a very long list of teaching qualifications, together with the ability to teach children. Her Edlington teams were always a joy to watch with their high standard of dancing and lovely turnout in the dresses she made. She ran the Leeds Branch shop for many years before handing over to Christine, and I know she was really pleased at the success that Christine has made of it. She was always at the Leeds Branch dances, and really came up trumps when there was a celebration of some kind. This was displayed in the beautiful cakes she made, not only for milestone anniversaries within the Branches of which she was a member, but for individual members as well. My 80th birthday cake for instance, and also the late Ivy Lawson’s 90th birthday cake, and don’t let us forget the beautiful presentation of 50 tiny individual cakes for the Leeds Branch 50th anniversary. All these cakes were deliciously moist, and beautifully iced with exquisite decorations. A Baker of Note!
Her involvement and organisation were the order of the day for her as I found out when I first attended the Malhamdale weekend school. Needless to say, it went off without a hitch with the magic of live music, good teaching, comfortable rooms and superb food – left me wanting more, and I got it by going to Scarborough. The work and attention to detail were evident whichever event one attended, and the enjoyment was mainly prolific. However, as happens with the best laid plans, things could go wrong, and this is where Yvonne showed her mettle, for instance when the Clifton Hotel was closed by the authorities because of infection on the eve of the weekend starting. The sheer enormity of finding another venue (and subsequently finding another for the Saturday evening dance because of a previous wedding booking at that venue), ringing around everyone to let them know individually what was happening and where to go, was mind boggling, but she and Derek did it, and on top of that one of the congregation broke her foot, which had to be dealt with also - BUT – a good and memorable weekend was generally had by all.
The Scarborough weekend was not all sweetness and light for Yvonne, because when the Clifton Hotel group was taken over, the new owners had other plans, and standing customers like us were put to one side so to speak, and whilst they took the booking for the year following their takeover, they virtually slammed the door in Yvonne’s face. True to form, she and Derek searched and went to Scarborough to find another venue with enough rooms, a big enough ballroom and the right price to keep the weekend going. The Esplanade Hotel seemed to fit the bill and we started to settle down there. It was clean, the food was good and it was comfortably warm. However, even though the ballroom had a sit-ooterie and the floor was sprung, there was a join in it which upset some people. Our stays there lasted about 3 or 4 years and suddenly the support fell away, which devastated Yvonne when the weekend had to be cancelled permanently. It wasn’t for the want of trying, but this time, however hard she tried, she couldn’t make people come – more was the pity.
I knew that Yvonne’s health was deteriorating, although she kept actively dancing for as long as she could, and when she broke her hip it seemed to be the end of that, but she was still involved. She kept going to local dances and kept up with everything. Her passing is the end of an era and will leave quite a void. I count it a privilege to have been able to call her my friend.