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Our 40th Anniversary Play Day was held at Ruishton on Sunday 2nd July.

Around our “Ruby” theme we enjoyed workshops led by Paul McCann and Doug Watt, followed by a “Shared Tune Session” with four groups learning tunes with a Ruby or Red link - however tenuous!

 The Bring and Share lunch was as delicious and varied as ever. The Centrepiece was a truly magnificent and delicious cake, which was so realistic that many thought it really was an Anglo Concertina sitting on the table!

This gave everyone chance to catch up with concertina playing friends and a time to reminisce with the display of photos from the last forty years. (These will also be on display at Sidmouth and Quantock Lodge).

Our guest, Dave Townsend, led a band session in the afternoon using his new book. Some rousing tunes, in parts so everyone could join in. 

The Showcase consisted of the four shared tunes, nine party pieces and some tunes from Dave Townsend.

We rounded off as usual with the “Ruby Anthem” and “Meadow in May”.

Thank you to everyone who made the day such a special occasion!








From Chris Reid, Chairman

Tess and I started playing concertinas in September 2018, joined WCCP and now I am Chairman.  How did that happen?  Until this year we had thought that the Halsway weekend would be too advanced for us, and certainly the Band option would have been, but with all of the positive feedback from previous events we decided to enrol for the English system option.  I grew up in West Somerset and regularly visited Halsway for evening Ceilidhs so it was great to return as a resident and experience this fantastic venue in its wonderful Quantock setting surrounded by friends and with a Ruby anniversary atmosphere.  

We expected to find the English tutoring challenging and were not disappointed although the Friday evening'meet the tutor' session with the fantastic Michael Jary did not prepare us for what was to come later.  We enjoy regular evening pub sessions at home and the evening bar sessions did not disappoint with many familiar tunes and songs we could join in with.  I also joined the choir to sing 'The Rhythm of Life' with the band group and found this to be a moving experience, marvelling at the ability of Claire Wren to bring around 15 musicians and 10 singers together to produce a dynamic performance.  

WCCP is 40 years old this year and the Halsway weekend was the first of the themed events.  The WCCP organising team did a great job with bunting, balloons and an evening reception with sparkling wine.  We all dressed in black and red and toasted the founder members of the club.  Brian Tilley, a founding member, joined us for the evening and Mike Long owned up to the longest continuous membership.

Around 30 members stayed for the Sunday night and this enabled some of us to walk up onto the Quantock hills behind Halsway on Sunday afternoon.  The view across to Minehead and Exmoor was fantastic, and with the steam train meandering along below the scene was little changed from 60 years ago.  Staying also gave us another bar session to enjoy with a more relaxed and varied mix of music and song.




 Our tutor Andy Turner provided a fascinating mix of tunes for this year’s Anglo workshops. Including two tunes from the John Malchair manuscript of the late 18th century,  French Schottisches, Irish Marches, English Jigs and even a dance tune from New Mexico.  

Having the tunes in advance allowed us to gain some familiarity with the melodies ; and we were then able to spend the workshops during the Halsway weekend developing accompaniments to the melodies.  Hard work - but great fun; and some excellent new tunes to take away for our repertoires..


This was Michael Jary’s first time tutoring at a WCCP event but I’m sure it won’t be his last. We started with simple tunes and built up to playing with 2, 3 or even 4 notes at once. Michael took us out of our comfort zones, our pinkies out of finger rests and made us experiment with alternative ways of playing. Several people passing through on their way to the library, were intrigued and stopped to watch & listen. We came away with plenty of ‘homework’ to practice, confidence to give it a try and above all - we had great fun!


Our tutor, Gilbert Carrère, travelled from France and brought a fresh slant to Duet playing. The music scores were provided in advance which gave everybody an opportunity to try them in before the weekend. Gilbert also played all the arrangements on YouTube, also in advance, so we could hear them as they should be played. Sadly, Gilbert did not tell us he was doing that so some players missed out on that. The music was a wide range of French tunes, dances, and songs and was very challenging, hard work, but enormous fun. The challenge after the event is to practice them till they sound French.


As always, the music for the concertina band workshop was diverse. It was challenging and very enjoyable. As usual the music was sent out in advance so we had a chance to get to know it before we arrived. A highlight this year was playing whilst a small choir sang Rhythm of Life. This was a new experience to all in the band. It was very exciting playing in a band of 25 other players. 


 We were very disappointed that Dave Elliott was too unwell to attend the weekend this year and hope his forthcoming operation will restore him to good health.

We were very lucky that Steve Dickinson agreed to step in at the last minute provide a running repairs and advice service. He also gave a talk entitled "Zen and the art of concertina maintenance." (It's not enough to build a concertina that works, you have to make it "play"). 

He explained the physics of the instrument - frequencies, pitch, harmony, resonance. What Wheatstone was aiming to achieve, and how this related to concertina maintenance and repair. 

Steve attended the evening bar sessions and enjoyed the weekend so much that he decided to join the WCCP! 


 Click here for Paul Hardy's photos of the weekend


In spite of a depleted Ruishton Team (one at a funeral, one ill, one jet-lagged and one coughing) True to form, the club members rallied round to help out and the day went well. Back, at last, to pre-‘c’ numbers with 39 attending. So Kate E. and her various helpers were kept busy!

Thanks go to Chris R, Tess and Tony for stepping in to lead some lovely Welsh tunes for St David’s Day and to Doug, Sara and Paul for taking the beginners.

Three shared tunes from Chris H, Trish and Mike were learned during the morning for inclusion the Showcase.

A while ago John Lambert was asked by the Committee to write a piece of music to celebrate the Club’s Ruby (40 years) Anniversary. Sadly he wasn’t able to be there for the first airing of “Ruby Anthem” but, Doug, Di, Trish and Tony presented the piece at the 2pm session. We then split into system groups to learn the respective parts, (thanks to Paul for jumping in at a moments notice to lead the duets).  It all came together beautifully and was recorded and sent to John. It’s a lovely tune and will be played at all our events throughout the year.

 To round off the day, along with the 3 shared tune groups were some lovely Showcase pieces, including a truly inspiring Chopin rendition by Mike Selley.

 We ended with another play through of the “Ruby Anthem” followed by “Meadow in May”

 Our thanks go to everyone for setting up, shifting furniture, carrying equipment up & down stairs washing up and clearing away at the end.

 We look forward to our next Ruishton play day on the 7th of May and Zoom session on 2nd April.




We had another really enjoyable weekend at Quantock Lodge (near Bridgwater), which is our weekend for beginners and improvers. We had over 75 attendees and lots of new people joining us for the first time. One newbie commented that having been to several similar events with different instruments, concertina players are by far the friendliest!

Beginners and Improvers enjoyed receiving focused group tuition on their Duet (Crane, Hayden and McCann), Anglo or English concertinas. The more proficient players enjoyed honing their skills in the Folk Stream or Advanced Band. There were also several options sessions dotted throughout the weekend including song accompaniment, rounds and slow sessions.

Dave Elliott provided concertina servicing and expert advice and Barleycorn Concertinas also brought a tempting range of instruments for sale. 

On Friday night, we joined in an open session with anyone playing, as well as chatting in the bar.

On the Saturday night, we heard our tutors play, interspersed with us all playing some more tunes, as well as enjoying the other talents of the attendees, which included Morris dancing, storytelling and singing. There was also much laughter!

Before going home on Sunday, we got to hear what each group had been working on in an end-of-weekend showcase. It is amazing what can be achieved in just 2 days, and the more showcases you do, the more you learn to just enjoy playing, regardless of not playing perfectly at times! We also all played a new going-home tune as a whole group, which was a lovely way to end the playing part of the weekend, before enjoying a cream tea (as if we hadn’t all eaten enough over the weekend!).

If you are new to the concertina, or you are an improver, please consider coming to the next Quantock Lodge weekend in late September 2023! It is so much more than the sum of its parts and an uplifting, motivating weekend with the strong possibility of making new friends. See you there! 




Just beating the lock down with a wonderful weekend of concertina playing and fun.  Tutors (left to right) Claire Wren (Band), Tim Laycock (Duets), Sandra Kerr (English), Brian Peters (Anglo) and Dave, Di & Amanda Elliott (Maintenance & Repairs)

Halsway Manor 2020 11Halsway Manor 2020 69Halsway Manor 2020 121

and then everybody....

Halsway Manor 2020 55

What a happy but exhausting day!

54 players plus a few non-playing partners meant the hall was absolutely buzzing.Ruishton 2020 2

Arthur started the morning by leading a tune from the Purple Folder to ease us into the day and get our fingers warmed up. Whilst the beginners had tuition from Bob, Mike and David in other rooms.  Next, we had five people willing to lead groups, teaching songs and/or tunes to play in the afternoon; mostly Scottish, as befits the season. Plus "Ring of Fire" … but then - the theme was "Burns"! The group in the hallway was very tolerant of interruptions from others needing to access the kitchen or loos.  We finished the morning learning tunes for this afternoons dances with Chris and Mike, whilst some brave people practiced the dances in any space they could find.

Our "BriRuishton 2020 1ng and Share" lunch was, as usual, sumptuous. With a huge variety of delicious and often unusual dishes. For the first time, the Ruishton 2020 3vegetarian/vegan section matched that of the meat section in terms of both size and variety.
As for the desserts.....





We spent the afternoon in the company of Ray Goodswen, who came along again to call the dances in our Ceilidh. We invited players to bring along other instruments to play in the dance bands to give variety to the music and for authenticity. Between the four dances, the five "Burns" tunes learned in the morning were played, along with several party pieces either in groups, duets or individually.

To finish, we played our usual going home tune "Meadow in May". Followed, of course, by "AuldLang Syne".
We intentionally brought the day to a close a little earlier this year and asked for everyone to help with the clearing up. This was because last year, a handful of us were still trying to do it at 6pm when the cleaner arrived!
True to W.C.C.P. form, most people were all hands on deck and we were able to vacate the tidy hall just after 5pm, which was great.  That's one of the things I love about our organisation; the way we all pull together to help each
other in so many ways.  The team thanks each and every one of those who came. For help with moving chairs and tables, setting the food out and clearing it up, washing up during the day and staying to clear up at the end.
Thanks also for volunteering to lead sessions,teach beginners, teach shared tunes, offer to help in the various teams... and for coming along and playing.

Happy new year to you all.
The Ruishton Team