For four Helstonians 2013 has already become one of the best years of their lives after receiving invitations to lead the midday dance on Flora Day.
It marks the hat trick for leading man David Harvey, who led the children’s dance while at secondary school in 1985 and was then in the lead four of the morning and evening in 2003.
He said: “For me the midday is a very prestigious thing. I’m very pleased and honoured to be leading.”
Now living with wife Kate and children Joe and Emma in Cheltenham, where he works as a design engineer for Mira Showers, 43-year-old David has only missed two Flora Days since he began dancing in 1976 with Nansloe Primary.
In his younger years he was known for surf life saving at Gunwalloe and Praa Sands, where he worked as a lifeguard.
Recent investigations into his family tree revealed his family has lived in Helston since the 1600s, so there are likely to have been many other Flora dancers before him.
David is paired with 43-year-old Julie Willey, who admitted the arrival of the invitation took her breath away.
She said: “I had to read it two or three times. I just couldn’t believe it – I was absolutely flabbergasted.”
Julie, who lives at Wheal Oak in Helston, has been dancing the midday for 13 years.
Her involvement with Flora Day began at a pupil of St Michael’s Primary School however.
It is the community aspect of the day that keeps her coming back. “All of Helston comes together. You can’t get it anywhere else in the world – it’s such a great feeling,” she added.
Julie, who now works in M&Co in the town but previously ran a mobile hairdressing business for 20 years, comes from a long line of Flora Day dancers – indeed, a photo of her dad Neil dancing as a child is on show in Helston Museum.
This year will mark her nine-year-old daughter Dana’s third time dancing, while six-year-old son Ethan will be dancing for the very first time.
“This just adds to the icing on the cake,” she said.
Julie has already found her dress and is having her hat custom made by Manor Fashions at Sithney.
Making up the other half of the leading four will be Mark Bradley and Ruth Williams, who have danced together for more than two decades.
Chartered surveyor Mark, who lives in Norwich with his wife Emma and children Jasper and Ellie, said dancing with his usual partner made it all the more special.
He said: “It’s lovely that Ruth and I get to dance together – we may not have accepted it otherwise, it would have been unfair.”
The 42-year-old added that he was “completely surprised” at the invitation.
Mark, whose father Alan is a Flora Day steward, started dancing with Parc Eglos Primary School, and has only ever missed one year, when his daughter was born just ten days earlier.
“Wherever I’ve lived I’ve always come back; it’s in you as a Helstonian,” he explained.
He and Ruth have already led the morning and evening together in 2008.
Ruth began dancing at Parc Eglos but a family move to St Agnes prevented her from taking part during secondary school. As soon as she was 16, however, she was back and dancing in the morning and evening, only missing three – twice working abroad and once when she actually gave birth on Flora Day, to son Joseph in 2005.
“He thinks the band and dancing is all for his birthday,” said Ruth, who also has five-year-old Benjamin.
“I was completely shocked at the invitation – completely over the moon as well. I just feel very honoured they have picked the two of us together,” she added.
Ruth, 40, lives in Ponsanooth with husband Jeremy and their children, and works as a marine conservation manager for Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
“Flora Day is bigger than Christmas,” she said. “It’s such a buzz.”