Award hon­ours Elaine's ded­i­ca­tion


Dan­nevirke’s Elaine Swan­ney has given our mayor more grief than the clo­sure of the Manawatu¯ Gorge, those who packed out the Bowl­ing Club for her civic award cer­e­mony on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 5 were told.

“I ac­tu­ally didn’t think Elaine was go­ing to ac­cept her civic hon­our when we talked about it and I was gripped with fear,” Tararua Dis­trict mayor Tracey Col­lis said. “She had given me more grief than the Manawatu¯ Gorge as I tried to per­suade her to ac­cept.”

Col­lis said Elaine was the most hum­ble and de­serv­ing re­cip­i­ent of the hon­our.

“As a dis­trict we owe a lot to her.”

Elaine’s ser­vice and ded­i­ca­tion to Tararua and es­pe­cially Dan­nevirke, was re­flected in the num­ber of peo­ple at the awards cer­e­mony.

Kathryn Ill­s­ley, speak­ing on be­half of the Dan­nevirke Brass Band, said Elaine has had 37 years in­volve­ment with the band and the award was well de­served.

“It took some se­ri­ous con­vinc­ing for Elaine to ac­cept this award,” she said. “At 80 Elaine is the old­est woman bass player in New Zealand and it’s only in re­cent years she hasn’t marched with the band. That’s be­cause her mind is will­ing, but her body, not so much. She’s an awe­some, tal­ented lady, who is fun to be around and she’s al­ways gen­er­ous with her time.

“Elaine puts the zing into mu­sic and we’re hop­ing re­tire­ment isn’t in her vo­cab­u­lary. The brass band has served the Tararua Dis­trict for 137 years and Elaine joined in the early 1980s, first mas­ter­ing the bari­tone and then the B flat bass. Elaine is pas­sion­ate and will just do it. She has been band sec­re­tary, con­duc­tor, tu­tored learn­ers and also been our driver to and from con­certs.”

Elaine’s amaz­ing tal­ent in­cludes be­ing able to write and trans­pose mu­sic, in­clud­ing two lo­cal favourites Green Door and Blue Smoke.

Gary Mitchelmore, who, un­til re­cently, had a long con­nec­tion with the Dan­nevirke Theatre Com­pany, said Elaine’s skills were un­sur­passed.

“It’s been great hav­ing Elaine in­volved with the theatre, be­cause mu­si­cal theatre isn’t easy to do and the mu­sic is of­ten taken for granted,” he said. “Elaine of­ten has to play in the dark and then we’d blow smoke in her face and have strobe lights go­ing.”

Ver­sa­tile, Elaine could put the pi­ano aside and pick up the pi­ano

Elaine Swan­ney with mem­bers of Dan­nevirke's L's Belles Choir, which has re­named it­self EL's Belles to hon­our the com­mit­ment Elaine has made as their pi­anist.

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