Patrick Noel Shuldham-Shaw (1917- 1977)

Picture of Pat Shaw drawn by David Palmer

Pat Shaw was born in Stratford-on-Avon, but spent most of his childhood in London where he started folk dancing at the age of six. His mother, who sang professionally under her maiden name of Winifred Holloway was Honorary Secretary of the Cecil Sharp Memorial Fund, which raised over £30,000 to build Cecil Sharp House. the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society opened in 1930.

Pat was educated at St. Aubyn's Rottingdean, Harrow and Queen's College, Cambridge, where he studied music. A keen student of dance, song and music, Pat became a skilled performer of Morris, Sword and Country dancing and folk songs; an inspired composer and arranger of choral and folk music; a keen and accomplished collector and researcher of dance and song and played various instruments.

On leaving Cambridge he worked for the EFDSS as Midland Area Organiser until he joined the National Fire Service early in 1942. In 1946 he took up singing professionally, specialising in folk songs of all nations in their original languages, sometimes accompanying himself on the guitar. He spent much time collecting fiddle tunes and some songs in the Shetland Isles, where he started playing the piano-accordion (his original instrument had been the oboe.)

In 1949 he and Nan Fleming-Williams formed the "Countryside Players" to raise money for the new Lerwick lifeboat and this band continued giving concerts for many years. In the fifties he was often heard on the BBC West of England programme "Country Dancing" both as a caller and a singer.

Pat was involved for over 25 years in Holland with the Nederlands Volksdansstichting (NVS), who perform English dances, and composed "New Wine in Old Bottles" (54 dances to old Dutch tunes). He was also very interested in the Welsh Folk Dance Society and composed dances and tunes for them.

After his first visit to the Pinewoods Camp in New England, USA, in 1974, he donated "Between Two Ponds" to raise funds for the Camp and had intended to complete a second book of dances and tunes "Among the Pines" for them. (Both are now printed in "Pat Shaw's Pinewoods")

Pat will also be remembered for his Christmas Carol Concerts at Cecil Sharp House, for which he made all the orchestral arrangements. These are continued today in the same form.

In 1971 the EFDSS awarded him their highest honour, the gold badge, in recognition of his superb service to the Society in every aspect of its work.

From 1972 until his death, Pat was working on the Grieg-Duncan collection at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh - now published.

Extracted from The Pat Shaw Collection, edited by Marjorie Fennessy, H. E. Styles publications, London 1986 

This page last modified Tue Apr 2 1996 11:38:49

Rhod Davies

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