A GROUP of Morris dancers is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Hurst Morris People – known as HuMP – was founded in 1989 and held a celebration ceilidh with a barn dance last month.

Among the dancers were the team’s founders, Hurst villagers Christine and Tim Taylor.

Tim, 55, revealed the launch was controversial and said: “We started a mixed team of men and women so we could dance together. With few mixed teams at the time, we had opposition and criticism.” Christine, still a HuMP dancer, added: “We wanted to be inclusive, taking everyone up to a standard for dancing out in public. We didn’t want to be a side where you had to be invited to join.” Christine and Tim cut a celebration cake for the anniversary made by HuMP member Margaret Russell. Among the guests was another founder member Penny Shaw, from Twyford. Dancing was to music by Patsy Smith and Emmy Goodby. HuMP’s squire (leader) Ian Brant said afterwards: “It was a great celebration.

“We do feel we are a welcoming, happy side. We work hard to improve our dancing, but we also have fun. We are fortunate to have such talented musicians playing for us.

“We spread the word of morris, and Hurst, over a wide area. We encourage our audiences to join in and teach at schools and youth groups.” HuMP’s first dance outs were at the Elephant and Castle pub, in Hurst and at The Colleton School, in Twyford. They have since performed in the United States, Brittany and Ireland, and at Hampton Court Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Millennium Dome, on Portsmouth dock by The Victory and in Hurst’s first village panto. Every September, HuMP holds taster sessions for anyone to have a go at morris dancing at Hurst Village Hall.

Members say that even the most sceptical discover morris is fun and good exercise.