Rod and I have known Loralee since we started dancing in 1991, and she has been increasingly involved in supporting Johnsonville club activities across the last 30 years or so.
Apart from time living overseas, Loralee has been a Johnsonville club member since at least 1993 (the earliest date recorded), and was dancing at the club prior to that while still a member of Ngaio club.
She was Club President in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and under her stewardship club membership increased from 27 in 1997, to 50 in 2000. Loralee encouraged the relaxed and informal atmosphere that we continue to enjoy in the club today, with mixing between newer and experienced dancers, and an emphasis on having fun.
Loralee has also served the club in many other capacities during the last 30 years, even though she hasn’t been able to dance regularly in the last few years. Although not official roles, they are integral to building the club’s membership and its sense of community, as well as providing support for the club’s ability to operate effectively.
Loralee’s most visible role is as club photographer. She’s taken photos at club events over many years, as far back as 1991, and at Wellington Region events such as Hogmanays and New Dancers’ Celebrations where she manages to capture as many club members as possible dancing at these evenings. She also takes photos of club members as required for newspaper articles, the newsletter, the website etc.
You will see Loralee’s photos accompanying newsletter items, in articles posted on the club website and Facebook, and in the Wellington Region newsletter, Harbour City Happenings. Whenever I’m writing any sort of historical article about the club or our people, I am able to call on Loralee to provide a photo from her vast collection.
Loralee also employs her photo editing skills to help enhance the photos she and others take – cropping photos to show the subjects to best advantage, scanning printed photos in high quality, improving the light or clarity, and resizing photos so they’re suitable for publication.
Behind the scenes Loralee has taken on the role of photographic archivist – at the end of each year she backs up all the club photos that she has taken that year (or received from others), onto an external hard drive. We now have an archive of over 2000 photos.
For the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016, Loralee not only took photos on the night, she curated a collection of archival photos which were displayed as a video presentation at the event. This was a huge amount of work, and was a very special feature of the celebrations.
Then during lockdown in 2020, Loralee broadened her scope, taking on some video-recording to illustrate Rod’s website articles on practising dancing.
These continue to prove useful, especially for the club’s new dancers. (For example, this year, the Talking about reels page was one of the most-viewed posts at the time when Rod was teaching reels.)
Loralee’s professional background in communications and marketing has been of great value to the club.
Loralee set up the club’s Facebook page in 2014, a first foray for the club into social media, allowing us to increase our club profile, and promote beginners’ classes and club events more widely.
Two years later, in 2016, Loralee was responsible for setting up the club website, which really has made a huge difference in our digital presence. It provides a central point of information for club members, relating to events, dancing resources and news. It is also a historical repository.
Website statistics from 2017 to the present show large increases in the number of visitors each year (rising from 1531 to 3937), and number of views (4365 to 9808). It is clear the website provides a great service to our members, and many others.
The website really came into its own during Covid, keeping members engaged and informed when we were unable to dance. In 2020, there were almost 11,000 views of the website from more than 3000 visitors.
Loralee continues to maintain the website, restructuring it as required, and updating the calendar, beginners, membership, and ‘about us’ pages. She also posts all the articles that appear on the website, involving formatting text, and supplying, editing and inserting photos.
Her design skills are employed in beginners’ class advertising, poster design for beginners’ classes and dance programmes, and designing promotional material for other events such as the club’s mid-winter dinners. She also develops online forms for event registration and club membership, making club operations more effective and efficient.
Loralee also writes articles for the club website and for Harbour City Happenings, mainly historical photo stories about special events club members have participated in over the years such as Hogmanays, and tributes to those who have contributed to Scottish Country Dancing in the Wellington Region.
In 2019 Loralee suggested we create special e-newsletters to inform and encourage new dancers in particular, to attend the Annual Dance.
She created a template and edited Mailchimp newsletters over four weeks, resulting in a very successful event with a large turnout of both newer and experienced dancers.
Based on this success, Loralee went on to develop the Mailchimp template which has become standard for the club’s weekly newsletters.
Initially she also edited the newsletters, later training John Homes and me, and continues to give ongoing support. The club has received many compliments regarding the professionalism and presentation of the newsletter.
Altogether, Loralee averages 75-100 hours a year of work on the club’s behalf, and during covid lockdown in 2020, that increased to almost 130 hours loading articles onto the website to keep dancers engaged and informed when club dancing was not possible.
There are now 258 articles on the website, which along with Loralee’s photos, provide a valuable historical record of the friendship and fun we have at Johnsonville club.
Thank you Loralee for your long and active support of the club through digital communication and photography, beyond the call of duty.
28 November 2022