History has been made as a Morris dancing group welcome their first female dancer in 86 years.
St Albans Morris Men recently looked for new dancers but only managed to attract one person, however that one person made the biggest change to the club.
Linda Birmingham, 63, of St Albans, joined the St Albans Morris Men and has been dancing with the troupe all summer.
Ms Birmingham said: “I’ve been Morris dancing most of my life. There is a misconception that women don’t dance, but they do. In fact, women kept Morris alive while the men were at war.”
She began dancing in the 1970s after becoming inspired by the Windsor Ladies Morris Dancers. She said: “They were fantastic. I just wanted to do what they did.”
The club changed their name to St Albans Morris, as they are now classified as a mixed sex group.
Although, despite Ms Birmingham being welcomed by the club, many single sexed Morris groups do not agree with women mixing with men's dance groups.
The Morris Ring, the national association of men’s Morris and Sword dance clubs, have said that Ms Birmingham is technically a guest, rather than a member.
She said: “If The Morris Ring want to make those rules then it’s up to them. But I dance with the men and whenever the group gets introduced as The St Albans Morris Men, I cough really loudly.”
Ms Birmingham explained that there are single sexed groups and mixed groups and in most cases, single sex groups disapprove of mixing genders.
She said: "It's a really big deal, I'm very proud of myself."
Trevor Adams, St Albans Morris Squire, said: “Linda is a very welcome addition to the side. The club needs as many recruit – men and women – as possible to survive.
“It will be a shame if one of St Albans long standing traditions died out.”
St Albans Morris was founded in early 1930 and performed for the first time at Hatfield House on July 5 in 1930. The men practised in the Abbey Institute, then moved to the Market Hall.
The original baldricks were made from the off cuts from the Abbey Altar Frontal material.
Gerald Farmer, 86, St Albans, is the club’s longest serving member, he joined in 1950 and is still dancing.
To join the St Albans Morris, the club will be holding a taster evening at 8pm on September 12 at the Scout Hut in Riverside Road, St Albans.