Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men

John Goddard

With great sadness we have to announce the passing on Christmas day 2020 of one of our earliest members, a stalwart of local Folk Dance, John Goddard, Dancer and Friend to us all.

John Goddard was a very early member of Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men, having joined in 1954, only a year after we formed.

It is a remarkable coincidence that his son Sean is our current Squire, guiding us through these strange times, and he takes up the story now with this tribute to his dad…

John Goddard 1926-2020

After a short illness and subsequent Covid-19 complications, my Dad died on Christmas Day 2020 aged 94.

John was one of those people who was active in Sussex folk dance after World War Two until his death. It is people like my Dad who help set the repertoire and formation of the Sussex folk-dance clubs which are known today.

Along with fellow callers Hal Wallis and Don Lewry, he was instrumental in starting the Keymer Folk Dance Club in 1950, which celebrated its 70th year in 2020. In 1956, he started the Burgess Hill Folk Dance Club, and was a well-known caller at other clubs, initially at the Haywards Heath, Cuckfield and later at Eastbourne and Heathfield clubs. In 1970, along with Bob Waller he started and was caller at the Seaford Folk Dance Club, while later in the 1970s, he started several short-lived clubs in the Brighton and Hove area.

In 1954, he joined the then newly formed Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men. He maintained a life-long interest and in recent years became the trug-man (money-collector). Requiring to learn more about Morris, this inspired him to attend the first Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1955.

Always keen to get others involved in folk dancing activities, he regularly coached members of the Girl Guides, Girls Brigade and Woodcraft Folk for their folk-dancing badges. Like many others, he called at Barn Dances for local associations and weddings.

Even late in life, John was known for his sprightly dancing. He specifically liked the English and American dances which were popularised in the 1950s, and was an expert in getting as many rotations as possible out of a swing in the music available!

Sean Goddard

When the famous 1954 photograph of CRMM which was in ‘The Times’ that summer was recreated on May Day 2010 John took the role of the Hobby Horse Rider.

We will all remember him for his placid and gentle nature, and his regular attendance on Wednesday evenings in the summer, walking around the edge of the dance collecting from onlookers in the trug.   At our bigger events and on sunny summer evenings at country pubs we will miss him.