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Sheffield sword dancers group appeals for women to join

Team veteran Les Seaman holding the 'lock' following the performance.
Team veteran Les Seaman holding the 'lock' following the performance.

A Sheffield sword dancing collective is to allow women to join their ranks - a move believed to be a first for the group.

Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers have wowed crowds with their dazzling displays for several decades.

The butcher has slain the Derby Tup.

The butcher has slain the Derby Tup.

Membership has traditionally been dominated by men, but the group has now taken the unusual step of inviting women to join from next year.

And if any new members need any inspiration to join, they need to look no further than the group's latest performance.

Scores of people congregated at Woodhouse Market Square and later St Mary's Church in Handsworth as they put on their annual Boxing Day extravaganza.

The dancers performed a historic mumming play - a traditional folk show performed by troupes of amateur actors known as mummers.

One of the intricate dance routines.

One of the intricate dance routines.

The crowds were treated to a performance of the Derby Tup, in which a great ram is ceremonially and symbolically slain by a butcher and made into useful and desirable items for people to use.

The historic tale has been performed by the group for several decades and they followed their latest show with carol singing and a demonstration of sword dancing.

This saw a team of eight dancers dressed in military-style uniforms perform an intricate routine ending with the swords intertwined in a locked position.

Although the troop performs throughout the year at a number of heritage events, it is the Boxing Day shows that are the highlight of the calendar.

Les Seaman holding the lock leads the team off. Les joined the Handsworth Sword in 1957 and at 80 years of age is still an energetic dancer.

Les Seaman holding the lock leads the team off. Les joined the Handsworth Sword in 1957 and at 80 years of age is still an energetic dancer.

Peter Wolstenholme, of the group, said the performance "delighted the large crowds."

The dancers feature males ranging in ages from under 18 right up to members in their 80s.

Les Seaman is one of their oldest members at age 80, having joined the group in 1957, and took part in the fun again this year.

For more information about joining the group visit www.handsworthsworddancers.org.uk

Handsworth Sword Dancers team.

Handsworth Sword Dancers team.

Handsworth Sword Dancers team.

Handsworth Sword Dancers team.

One of the dance routines.

One of the dance routines.