For one leader of this year's Midday Dance the invitation is "a lifetime's dream come true" while another will be stealing her husband's birthday thunder come May 8.

The leading set this Flora Day was announced yesterday and the four very excited Helstonians can now be revealed.

First to step out of the Guildhall at the stroke of 12 noon will be Mark Thomas and Kate Williams, closely followed by Martin Barnett and Claire Yelland.

At Lismore the couples will then swap places to finish their route through the town.

Kate (née Eddy), who has been on the Flora Day committee for the last 18 years and secretary of the Morning and Evening Dances for ten of them, said: "I always joke and say I have no ambition in life other than to lead the Flora Dance. It truly is a lifetime's dream come true."

She will be following in the footsteps of her grandparents Kitty and Ken Pascoe, who led the dance in the early 1960s, and her aunt Janice Johns who led in 1991.

Kate, who is practice manager at Waterside Dentalcare in Penryn, said her colleagues knew Flora Day was the one day of the year she would never work.

"I'm more likely to go and work Christmas Day than Flora Day," she joked.

Having danced while at Parc Eglos and Helston School, she moved on to the Morning and Evening Dances, then the Midday, in which she normally dances with husband Mike.

This year she will be partnered with Mark, who admitted that when his wife rang him at work to say he needed to phone home urgently, this was not his first thought.

"Once I knew what it was it was absolutely fantastic," he said.

Growing up dancing at Parc Eglos and Helston School, then the in the Morning and Evening Dances, Mark now lives in Somerset where he is headteacher of a boys' school but almost always manages to return home for Flora Day.

"To me it's a real privilege to dance, let alone be leading. It's a huge part of the town. It's something, when you move away, you realise how special it is, as other towns and villages just don't have that tradition," he added.

"It's one of the most important days of my life - it's as simple as that."

In the other couple, Claire (née Barrett) admitted: "It's been a big secret to keep. I was absolutely blown away when I received the letter - I never expected to be asked. I can't put it into words; it's absolutely thrilling, I'm so excited. I feel so honoured."

She will in fact be stealing the limelight from her husband Scott, as May 8 is also his birthday. He should, however, understand as he was in the leading set for the Midday on his 21st birthday.

"It won't be about him this year. That's why he keeps saying I'm stealing his thunder," joked Claire.

In a particularly special year for the couple, they are also due to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary come September.

Claire, who turned 51 last Sunday, danced all the way through Parc Eglos School and some years of Helston School, before starting dancing the Midday when she met her husband.

They have only ever missed one Flora Day, when they were living in Seville, which Claire said was "heartbreaking," but even then they phoned their family in order to listen to the Midday Dance going past.

"For me it's Christmas Day on Flora Day. It's the atmosphere, the camaraderie, happy faces - that first beat on the drum at 7am sends shivers down my spine," added Claire, who has just left working for Camborne School Mines after 12 years there, to spend more time with Scott and their three grown-up children.

She is partnered with Martin 'Bat' Barnett, who is well known in the town for being one half of two couples who last year took over Helston hardware store Bowden's along with his partner Caroline Langley, and Mark and Jean Slater, following the sudden death of Wesley Bowden in 2014.

Martin, who will celebrate his 52nd birthday next week, described himself as "proud and chuffed" to be asked to leader.

"I'm naturally thrilled. It's as exciting as it is tinged with trepidation. I'm a Helston boy and you're representing your home town," he said.

The son of Max and Mary Barnett who owned a gentleman's outfitters in Wendron Street just across the courtyard from the back of Bowden's, Martin danced all through Parc Eglos School and Helston School.

Sadly Mary died last year, with Martin saying: "It's a shame as she would have been really, really pleased. She used to get very excited about Flora Day." However, he said his dad was sure to be pleased once he revealed the news, which he had kept a secret until now.

By leading, Martin will be able to truly say he has experienced every part of Flora Day, having also taken part in the Morning and Evening Dances, and been involved with the Hal an Tow for the last 20 years - something he intends to still do this year.

Martin, who also works for Fugro Seacore in Falmouth, is about to fly out to Singapore and India until mid to late April but has promised to get back by May 1, in order to take part in the May Day celebrations with Helston Town Band and the lead up to Flora Day.