Mick was a happy camper. Once he discovered Folk Camps in the early 70s that was his summer holiday sorted for the next almost 50 years. He, Dil and I arrived at our first camp in (I think) 1971 and Dil and I got out of the car and were immediately sick – it had been a long drive and Mick’s ancient automobile had some sort of petrol-related fault. But it got better after that. The Folk Camp blend of sociability, self-reliance, community, live music and dance, being outdoors and being very regularly fed was a perfect mix for Mick.
Fifty – well, 48 – years is a very long time and the fact that the fundamentals stayed unchanged all that time really suited him too, and he worked hard to keep it that way, campaigning on Council to keep ‘proper’ marquees.
As everyone who knew him knows, if Mick considered a thing worth doing he would do it absolutely whole-heartedly, whether that was singing a song, stripping the willow, peeling a spud or having a loud political disagreement with someone. The countryside settings – some of which he found as official site-finder, though this seemed to take extraordinarily amounts of time and road miles – were also wonderful for Mick, since he could go off walking and bird-watching. (If you’ve ever heard Mick talk about his childhood, he was clearly the most wholesome child ever, dividing his time between the library, woods and fields, train-spotting and fishing, and all with neatly combed hair.)
Everyone will have their own Folk Camp memories of Mick, but I have to admit my favourite is when he fell and dislocated his shoulder – a friend who was out of the marquee at that point asked what all the commotion was told by a small girl, “oh, an old man’s fallen over”. He was probably my age. I’m so glad Mick found Folk Camps, for all the happiness they’ve given him, me and my family, Frances and Esme, and for the life-long friendships renewed each year. I know a marquee this summer will see a special send-off for Mick, and the whole family wants to pass on its thanks for all the lovely messages on the Cold Bogmarsh site.
Mick will be having a celebratory memorial event in the village hall in Bacton, Herefordshire, on Sunday 28th April from 2pm – all are welcome, and all are invited to speak or sing and we might well have some dancing too.
Harriet (Green) Berenger