Kelburn’s Farewell Dance on Sunday 20 June started me thinking about club history, and reminded me that Johnsonville’s longest-standing members also have links to Kelburn Club.
It’s a nice opportunity to find out more about those members who have danced at Johnsonville for so many years, and also recognise the inter-connectedness of the Wellington Scottish Country Dancing community.
There are four current members who have been dancing at Johnsonville Club since the 1980s. Elizabeth Rendell, John Markham and John Homes all joined the club in 1981, and Aline Holden as she was then (now Homes) joined in 1982.
One way or another they all have connections to Kelburn Club.
John Markham’s first experience of Scottish country dancing was at Kelburn, having gone along as a spectator in 1969, and been ‘dragged up’ (John’s words) by original Kelburn tutor, Mirth Smallwood
Elizabeth Rendell started her dancing as a teenager at the Wainuiomata Club in 1965, then danced at Kelburn Club before moving to Johnsonville in 1981.
John Homes danced at Kelburn Club in the early 1970s, with tutor Betty Redfearn, before moving to Johnsonville in 1981. He met Aline when she joined Johnsonville Club in 1982, and they went on to marry in 1986.
The teachers in the photo above are: Back row: Iain Boyd, Margaret Laidlaw, Romaine Butterfield, Rita Brennan, Margaret Allison (Bailey), Edith Campbell, Hilda Brodie (Smith), Kath Burn, Maureen Robson, Damon Collin, Dave Macfarlane, Mirth Smallwood, Barbara Gill, Elizabeth Ferguson, Val Jenness, Gary Morris, Marie Malcolm, Alma Secker, Glenys Mills, Noeline O’Connor, Ian Simmonds, Raynor Stratford. Front row:Betty Redfearn, Norm Whitson, Carol Smith, Annette Zuppicich
Friends and fellow dancers heard the sad news that Barbara Kent passed away on Friday 25 February in her 89th year. She will be missed by many in the Wellington Region, and farther afield.
Barbara was part of the Wellington Scottish Country dance community dating from the 1960s. She loved her dancing and contributed a great deal to the community, while preferring to keep a low profile.
Barbara danced at (the now dis-established) Wellington Club, and at Lower Hutt Club before coming to Johnsonville, where she was a member for around 30 years. Her earliest recorded membership is in 1973, and she was still recorded as a member in 2002. In later years she was a long-standing member of Tawa Club.
However, her trips weren’t only for work. In 1979 she joined a group of 36 dancers on a trip to Canada (described in full in the 1980 NZ Scottish Country Dancer magazine).
Barbara was part of a Māori performance item at the 1979 Oktoberfest at Kitchener/ Waterloo. As Scottish Country dancers, they ‘found a compromise (with Māori approval) by wearing a Māori type sash and headband with white frocks and shirts’, and were well received.
In amongst all her travel, Barbara found time to support Johnsonville Club both as a tutor and a member of the committee. She was club tutor in 1985 and part of 1986, took beginners’ classes in 1991, 93, 94 and 1996, and was a relieving tutor through the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1976 her role as president was cut short, when she was posted to Moscow, but she returned as a committee member from 1978-79, and then served a part year as president again in 1980, and was back on the committee in 1991.
1991 was the year Rod and I started dancing, and we really enjoyed our time in Barbara’s beginners’ class. In those days beginners were initially taught in a separate room in Johnsonville School until supper time, then joined experienced dancers in the hall for the rest of the night.
As beginning dancers, Barbara prepared us well. Her encouraging manner and graceful style paired well with her strong technique and clarity of instruction. For some reason my abiding memory is of her teaching hands across, getting us to understand the elegance and precision of the formation as opposed to muddling through with hands everywhere and anywhere.
When Johnsonville held its 50 Golden Years celebration in 2016, Barbara’s health did not permit her to dance, but we were very pleased she accepted the club’s invitation to be part of our celebration of those past members who contributed so much to the club.
Johnsonville Club remembers Barbara for her commitment to dancing, her support of the club and its members, and her many achievements. As her family expressed it in the Family Notices in the DomPost on Wednesday 2 March – A full life well lived and enjoyed.
Barbara’s family also thanked Malvina Major Village (among others) for their care of Barbara. Unit #9 was Barbara’s home over the last few years, and she told me she was quite tickled to have followed in the footsteps of Ngaio dancers Frieda and Murray Allardice who themselves followed Johnsonville Life Members Isla and Eric Norris in making #9 their home.
This year at the AGM the committee was pleased to recognise the work that often flies under the radar – that of hall setup and pack-up.
Most often, service awards go to those who hold a formal position in the club, or perform a service which is highly visible in some way.
This year, the committee chose to recognise the service of three members who fly under the radar.
None of these members holds a formal committee position, but each of them makes a regular and ongoing contribution to the club, with no fuss, no bother, no expectation of recognition, and a great attitude of service to our club community.
This year the committee took pleasure in recognising the contributions of the following club members, who have made substantial and ongoing commitments to the set-up and pack-up of the hall, before and after club nights.
Tomoko has been with the club since 2013, when she and husband Charles, came along to the club’s beginners’ classes.
For many years now, Tomoko has been part of the team of people who stays till the end of every club night, to help pack up the hall – first at Johnsonville School Hall, then Johnsonville Bowling Club, and now at Khandallah Town Hall.
This is not a formally appointed team, it’s not rostered, it’s made up of people who see the need and step in. From 2017-2019 there were also formally rostered teams of volunteers to cover pack-up (when Rod and I were overseas for extended periods), and Tomoko’s name was always on the list.
Tomoko works quietly in the background, always looking out for what needs doing, helping out when she can, ensuring there are plenty of hands to share the work of packing up. Thank you Tomoko, your practical support for the club over many years is very much appreciated.
Wendy already had a long history as a Scottish Country dancer when she joined the club in 2019. She was so keen to dance with us, that she joined in the fun at the Summer Ceilidh before the dancing year started.
Wendy is one of the dancers who has danced at three different club venues since she joined, and has always been an early bird, arriving before dancing begins. Soon after joining us in 2019 for her first year at Johnsonville School hall, Wendy was asking what she could do to help with hall set-up, and so she began.
With the move to Johnsonville Bowling Club, helping with set-up translated into a lot of furniture moving! Wendy (working with fellow early-bird Robert Vale), moved countless chairs and tables on and off the dance floor during our 2020 year of dancing at the Bowling Club, and again this year when we returned there to dance during Level 2.
Wendy has continued to arrive early and help with hall set-up at Khandallah Town Hall, doing whatever needs doing, working alongside committee members who also arrive early. Thank you Wendy, the willing work you put in makes a big difference, and we appreciate it.
Lizzie is the most recent club member to be recognised this year, joining the club following beginners’ classes at the Bowling Club in 2020. She is an enthusiastic dancer, and has joined fully in the life of the club from the beginning, attending classes, and bringing her husband PK along to social events.
Despite all the interruptions to dancing over the last two years, Lizzie has kept on coming back, and from early on has stayed to watch the more experienced dancers in the latter part of the night.
Seeing the need, Lizzie became part of the furniture-moving crew at the Bowling Club, starting to pack up while the very experienced enjoyed the final dance of the night. She has continued helping with pack-up at Khandallah Town Hall, staying till the very end to help carry out bags to the car, before heading home herself.
While Lizzie is not the member who travels the farthest to be with us, she does have a fair distance to drive home to Porirua – more so since we moved from Johnsonville to Khandallah. But she still stays on till the end, bringing her enthusiasm to the task. Thank you Lizzie.
It is a real pleasure for the committee to have the opportunity to recognise members who have made special contributions to the club, either by way of a special project, or a long-term commitment.
John continues to serve the club as our ‘techie’, digitising any new CDs the club purchases, loading them onto the club music master collection, helping Rod with his ongoing battles with iTunes, and repairing of our aging club equipment as required.
This year he also took on the challenge of getting the club’s new headset up and running, building a mixer to allow it to operate with our existing amplifier, then testing and monitoring it, supporting both our guest tutors and also Rod.
Thank you John, we really appreciate your efforts.
Prisilla is a person who sees something that needs doing and just gets on with it. She has been ‘doing her bit’ in the background at club nights, tartan nights, annual dances and other events for almost as long she has been a member.
Priscilla is stepping down from the supper team at the end of the year. What you may not know is how long she has been in that role. Club records show that she joined the club in 2004 and the very next year she joined the supper team. She has now been on supper duty for 13 years!
Thank you so much Prisilla, you have given sterling service. We will miss you on the supper team, but look forward to seeing more of your smiling face on the dance floor.
John is our outgoing secretary, and soon to be past-member. The secretary’s role is a special one. Historically it was very much an administrative role but more recently with the introduction of the club newsletter, it sits at the heart of the club.
Each club secretary brings themselves to the newsletter, entertaining, informing and connecting us all. John has continued this tradition, and infused the newsletter with his cheery, friendly nature.
He’s also been an innovator in the secretary role. He leaves the role much more digitally organised than before, making it a much easier transition for future secretaries.
John took on a project this year to set up a generic Gmail ‘Johnsonville secretary’ address, with associated cloud storage for sharing and archiving club documents. This involved a lot of work on his part, laying the groundwork for the club’s long term benefit. Future committees will find it much easier to access club information and history.
Last but not least, John has been a smiling face at club, and offered many a ride to any number of members and visitors who have needed a ride to or from town.
Thank you John. We wish you well in your new home in Martinborough and club in Carterton, and hope to see you back dancing with us when the opportunity arises. We hope you will wear our small gift and remember good times at Johnsonville.