I am glad you asked!!!
It was a wonderful day with 48 members and guests booked in to hear all the latest news about how ALVA has been helping others over the last two years.
As I arrived, the busy bees of ALVA were madly finishing the preparations. I was greeted by Honorary ALVA Junior Member Ruby Turner-Carroll (the daughter of ALVA Committee Member Monique Montez). I have always found Ruby to be quite remarkable. For someone who is so young, she takes her role at ALVA very seriously. She was dressed for success, with a hat that she decorated herself, ready to hand out chocolate easter treats, and greet our guests with a smile. It was not surprising to find out that she is the school captain of her Primary School.
Our day began with the 2021 President, Susie Smither, welcoming our guests to The Lantern Club and the ALVA AGM. This was followed by Treasurer Pat Scroope, explaining the financial report for 2021. Our outgoing President, Susie Smither, began her report by recapping the events of the last TWO years. It was amazing to be reminded of how we handled the “lockdown years”. Online trivia events, member meetings, committee meetings, AGM’s and catch ups. Susie did remind us of the folks that have passed away over the last two years. For me, this was the most heart breaking list. I would like to take the opportunity to share it with you.
VALE: Sandra Forster, Tabbi Francis, Claire Franey, Jeanie Little, Bill Cate, Rocky Thomas, Dick Buchanan, Rob E Thomas, Chris Murphy, Trisha Noble, Barney Coomes, Bobby Dennis, AMy Godden, Patricia Flanaghan, Doug Parkinson, Michael Gudinsky, Glenn Wheatley, John Cornell, Carla Zampatti, Meatloaf, Lee, Young, Bert Newton, Brian Henderson, Lorrae Desmond, Dieter Brummer, David Gulpilil and most recently Shane Warne.
During general business, before the election of the 2022 committee, Di Georgeson relayed a message from ALVA Life Member Tammy Lind. Tammy hasn’t been well of late and she wanted to remind us of a few things.
Tammy Lind: “ALVA Is the most wonderful organisation ever, it’s the best of the best organisations. It’s the best committee and I don’t want anything to change. Hugs and Kisses to everyone. I am putting my best foot forward and I want to send you all my love.”
It was at that time that Gayle Wakeling-Taylor (wearing tights that Tabbi had handed down to Gayle), began collecting money from those members who didn’t wear their badges (a role that we have missed since Tabbi’s passing). Lisa Crouch was invited to report on her double knee replacement which was post 6 weeks. A number of the members had lots of questions for Lisa once lunch was served. Susie told us about John Charter’s new book adventure, which she has termed, “not only a great read but a great history of Rock n Roll”. (If you are interested in getting your copy, you will need to contact John Charter).
Susie made a special announcement thanks to Dale Selsby and t
he Banktown Theatre Company. Between our two lockdowns, the Bankstown Theatre Company contacted ALVA with a fundraising opportunity. There were going to run a fundraising night, offering all the proceeds to one performance of “You Can’t Take It With You”. We were all ready to go, but unfortunately, the day before our launch to the public, we all went back into lockdown. However, Dale contacted us yesterday, offering ALVA all the proceeds from their raffles for 2022. We were so shocked and we are very grateful for the generous offer.
After such wonderful news, it was time for the election and I am very pleased to announce the 2022 Committee:
Senior Executive Positions:
- President – Susie Smither Seconded: Lisa Crouch
- Vice President – Lisa Crouch
- Treasurer – Pat Scroope
- Secretary – Kerri Lacey
- Kaye Coleman (Public Relations Officer as voted by committee)
- Shirley McDonald
- Karen Beckett
- Di Georgeson
- Monique Montez
- Gayle Wakeling-Taylor
- Kathy Watson (Public Officer as voted by the committee)
Once our meeting was over and we finished our lunch, we launched into our tribute to ALVA stalwart, Tabbi Francis. Toni Stevens shared with us her speech (which she was unable to deliver due to the fact that Tabbi passed away just as covid hit our shores). Below is a copy of that speech for those who were not there.
Toni Stevens: To describe Tabbi Francis as eccentric would have to be the under statement of the year! Tabbi was one of a kind – a total overkill in both her dress and mannerisms. I’d go to a function thinking “I wonder what Tabbi will wear tonight”. She never ceased to impress and stand out with her cosmopolitan style, completely colour co-ordinated and her sparkly “something”. Her ever welcoming “hello darling” would make any stranger feel either very much at home or wonder whatever they’d gotten themselves into. I believe I net Tabbi for the first time with the onset of ALVA. She wasn’t on the first committee, but always seemed to be there when she was needed. If asked to take on a task, she carried it out 110%. I remember, on several occasions, her being in my living room with me, still in my pyjamas, after a day of ALVA phone calls and, of course, she became an integral part of the ALVA Committee for many years. Tabby was born, Marguerite, on 29th April 1926, to Lil and Dic Tabersham of Walthamstow, near London. She started dancing classes at age 3 and in future years, beca
me very well known for her comedic dancing. In 1939, when WWII was declared, Tabbi became one of 600 000 children, mothers and expectant mothers who were evacuated. At age 16, Tabbi was employed for 9 months as a copyholder. She was living in Chingford at the time, but she continued to pursue her dancing and won many prizes and certificates at Greater London Festivals. She developed her solo dancing in three areas – character, tap and comedy – comedy being the one she grew to specialize in. She left her position as a copyholder to join the West End Pantomime “mother Goose”. After a couple of pantomimes and tours of Great Britian, Tabbi joined the ranks of ENSA (Entertainment for HM Forces) with her dancing partner, Patricia Banks. They formed a duo called “The High Spots”. In 1946, intertaional travel took her to many destinations including the Middle East, Europe, India, Malaya, Burma and Hong Kong. She entertained airborne troops where she was described as the most popular the troops had ever seen. In 1947, Marguerite returned to England in time to celebrate he
r 21st birthday. In 1949, Tabbi met Geoff Mack, her future husband and lifetime partner. They met in Garmisch, Germany and by 1950 she joined Geoff, in Munich, in a European Armed Forces Professional Entertainment Branch show before travelling to the US. Geoff and Tabbi ( as she was fondly known), became engaged in Denmark in 1952 and were married in London on 5th December 1953. They travelled by motorcycle and ship, 13 000 miles to arrive in Australia in time for Boxing Day 1953. Many of you know so many stories of life with the Mack’s in Australia. Carol’s Varieties being a huge beginning for what was to be a colourful career in show biz where they were both highly respected and loved. She was one of the founding members of the Ballet of a Thousand Years, featuring many “mature’ hoofers, most from the old Tivoli Days. The final years of their lives were spent in Qld on the Gold Coast with their niece, Jan and her husband Leo. They were love and adored. Jan said that it was such a privilege and honour to be able to spend their final time with them. The last few weeks of Tabbi’s life were spent in a local hospice. it was there she passed with absolute dignity. Form the time I met Tabbi we had a running joke between us, with her surname being Tabersham and my real name being Christine. I remember, towards the end, when she was quite frail and a bit forgetful, I called her and Jan answers the phone. Jan told Tabbi it was Toni Stevens, and the response was “who?”. But as soo as I said “hello Tabersham”, the immediate reply was “is that young Christine”. I felt that the bond between us was still there, albeit for a short time. Dear Tabbi passed away on the 18th February 2020. Tabbi was one in a
million and those who knew her will never forget her bubbly personality and effervescent character. Long may her memory be with us.
Roxanne Paladin-Keily also shared with us her memories of meeting Tabbi, giving us a little insight into her relationship with Tabbi and Geoff. Roxanne had the chance to work closely with Tabbi and Geoff, particularly with the Pantomime tours. There are some wonderful photos that Roxanne has shared with us included in the photo album “VALE Tabbi Francis”.
As per usual, the day ended with the lucky door draw, the announcement of the winner of “Guess Shirley’s Balls” and of course, the raffle. Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to Klara Kaye for donating a wonderful holiday package – Accommodation at the Nelson Bay Breeze for 4 adults and a 3 hour Whale Watching Cruise for 2 adults. What a first prize!!!
We were sorry to hear that you couldn’t join us, but I hope my report gives you a little insight into what you missed. We are hoping you can join us for the 43rd Banquet.
Wishing you all the best and please stay safe.
Kerri Lacey (ALVA Secretary 2022).