Maureen Sullivan: Scottish Connections

Remembering Isla and Eric Norris as good neighbours

We first met Eric and Isla when we moved into hilly Johnsonville from flat Christchurch in the late ‘70s. It was a remarkably warm May afternoon and we and the movers were drudging up and down a long flight of steps, just opposite from where Eric and Isla lived up a much shorter flight of steps.

They came down to say hello and bring us and the movers some cold drinks, which were very gratefully received. And as you might imagine, we became very fond of our lovely helpful and kind neighbours over the years.

We knew Isla and Eric went Scottish Country dancing, and they did invite us to join. We would see them on their way out to Johnsonville or Ngaio clubs as we were coming home from work, and sometimes also at the weekend – all dressed up. But despite often thinking ‘yes we must go some time’, it was only much later that we did.

Then President, Philippa Pointon presents Eric with his 90th birthday cake at the 2001 Johnsonville Annual Dance

We used to be amazed to see a very spritely Eric returning from his trips to Johnsonville township. Even in his 80’s he would speed up the steep part of Frankmoore Avenue like a young thing, certainly better than we could manage even although he had about four decades on us. Our frequent comment was that if we were like that when we reached his age we would be more than happy.

Eric himself always put his energy and good health down to consuming sufficient chocolate – something we were happy to take on board – but I think now that Scottish country dancing had a lot to do with it as well.

You might have noticed the pretty green McDonald tartan sash I wear sometimes – it was Isla’s. She and Eric left some items to the club and it was really nice to both contribute to the club and have a memento as well.

Maureen wearing Isla’s green modern Macdonald of the Isles tartan sash while dancing Argyll’s Fancy at the Johnsonville Tartan Night in April 2019

I think of Eric as well as Isla when I wear it – which I am happy to do as I have connections to the McDonald clan on both of sided of my family. My mother, although Irish, was a McAllister and my Scottish father had many McDonald aunts, uncles and cousins.

I know they were both much loved members of the Scottish dancing community, not surprising given their cheerful and welcoming manner and kind nature – very much like the Scottish dancing community in general.

from Maureen Sullivan
7 May 2020

See more about Isla and Eric Norris

Click here to see more about Isla and Eric Norris’ contributions to Johnsonville Club

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