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Derek developed a love of singing from his early experiences in his school choir. Later while working as an Ordnance Surveyor he also worked as a part-time youth club leader, singing mostly contemporary folk songs with the young people. This experience developed his interest in folk song and eventually led to a new career in teaching.
Derek first discovered the English tradition at the Drover’s Arms Folk Club in Birmingham in the late 1960s. It was here he met some of the people that were to influence his already developing traditional style such as Pete and Chris Coe, Mick Bramich and Paul Ryan.
When the O. S. posted Derek to Malvern, Worcestershire at the end of the 60s it wasn’t long before he became a resident at the Ledbury Folk Club (as well as continuing to be a resident at the Drover’s Arms) and became a founder member of the Silurian Morrismen.
He moved to Lancashire in 1970 to train as a teacher.
In his early days in the North West Derek was involved with the College folk club and joined the Southport Swords, where he made some long standing friendships.
Having completed his teaching qualification, he became a resident of the Knowle Brow Folk Club in Skelmersdale with his teaching colleague John McAlister. Having formed as a duo at this club, Derek and John moved on to found the, now legendary, Dicconson Arms Folk Club at the aptly named Dangerous Corner, Wrightington. During the late 70s and early 80s this Friday night club became one of the foremost folk venues in the North-West, hosting national guest appearances. Many were people not so well known in the area at the time such as Johnny Collins, Roy Harris, Isobel Sutherland and Dick Miles.
It was also at this time that John Meadows, a mandolin player, guitarist and singer, joined Derek and John ‘Mac’ to form the group ‘Titanic‘. They worked all over the north for a while, later continuing as a duo when John ‘Mac’ left the group due to family commitments.
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