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.