Started in 1999 by Brenda Kitchenham with her twin daughters Faye and Zoe, who have since become co-leaders, the Sunset Twirlers take have been taking in girls from four years old ever since.
“We gradually got girls coming to us from Oakley School and went from there,” Brenda told the Times.
The troupe now has over a dozen members, ranging from 25 to seven years old, including eight who have special needs.
“We’re the only troupe left in Tunbridge Wells now, but there used to be four or five groups in the area. It has fallen off a bit, but we’re not sure whether that is because the parents don’t want to drive,” Brenda added.
Having started in 1999, the Sunset Twirlers have now seen off other troupes, rival hobbies and the pandemic to win the ‘Ambassadors’ prize at the UK Federation of Majorettes’ (UKFM) Bubble Nationals, held at Pontins Camber Sands on March 18-21.
“This was classed as the 2020 nationals because of the pandemic. That competition was cancelled the week before we were due to go, and we’ve gone two years without it,” said Brenda.
Some of the troupe also received ‘Ian’s trophy’ for those who could not join in with so much of the competition, but she said: “We got to the end of the presentations at Pontins, and I was just thinking ‘oh, good, we can go soon’, but then they called them out. Well, we all know that the most important prize comes last.
“I did try not to cry, and managed it – just about.”
The competition this year had not included as many troupes as normal – around thirty compared to 50-60 normally – but Brenda said they were proud to have kept going.
“A lot of troupes haven’t been able to get back into schools to practice, because of the pandemic.
“But we practice weekly – every Monday night at 6pm-8pm,” she added.