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At the heart of English folk
Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Sandra Kerr

Sandra Kerr receives EFDSS Gold Badge

One of the leading members of the sixties folk revival has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to the folk arts.

Singer and songwriter Sandra Kerr – who is also known for her musical work in television, radio and theatre, in education, as a choir director and as an activist – became the latest recipient of the English Folk Dance and Song Society Gold Badge at ceremony in Newcastle.

EFDSS Chief Executive Katy Spicer presented Sandra with her badge at a special concert in her honour at Newcastle University, where she lectures, on March 6.

The evening included contributions from Sandra’s daughter Nancy, son in law James Fagan, the folk quartet she performs with, Sisters Unlimited, and the choir she directs, Werca's Folk.

The EFDSS Gold Badge Award is awarded to those who have made unique or outstanding contributions to the art or study of folk dance, music or song, and/or those who have given exceptional support in furthering the aims of the EFDSS. 

The citation recognised Sandra’s extensive career that that began in the 1960s, when she joined the Critics Group, led by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.

Sandra’s career moved into the media including writing and presenting the BBC Schools radio programme ‘The Music Box, appearing in ‘Playschool’, ‘Listening Corner’ and many other schools programmes. She was also responsible, along with John Faulkner, with performing the music and songs for the much-acclaimed children’s BBC TV series ‘Bagpuss’.

As well as her work as a musician in a variety of guises, Sandra has continued in education firstly as a tutor for Folkworks and as a lecturer on the Folk and Traditional Music degree at the University of Newcastle.

“In 1964, with Ewan and Peggy and others, Sandra became a founder member of the much acclaimed and controversial Critics Group and played a leading part in pushing forward what has become known as the 60s folk revival.”

“There is no doubt that Sandra loves to teach and is certainly a natural in the role. Allied to her own musical abilities and her ability to communicate, there can be few people more able to help the next generation of singers and musicians acquire the skills and confidence necessary for a successful career - and to carry this music and song forward.”

Read the full citation

She joins an illustrious list of Gold Badge holders including Cecil Sharp, Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams, A.L. Lloyd, The Spinners, EFDSS President Shirley Collins MBE and EFDSS Vice President Eliza Carthy, MBE.

Find out more about the EFDSS Gold Badge awards

More than 150 awards have been made since the Gold Badge was first created in 1922. While many award holders count as household names in the world of folk – known as performers, writers or teachers – others are less well known but work tirelessly behind the scenes both nationally and in their local communities. 

Gold Badge Award recipients: 1922 – today

Know someone who merits an EFDSS Gold Badge? If so, please let us know. Find out how the nomination process works, with answers to the most frequently asked questions.



National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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