Waipā stalwart Elwyn Bradley will leave a legacy of community service in her wake when she retires as Kaipaki Hall secretary/treasurer on June 29.
She been hall secretary for 46 years, and for about three years before that she was busy on the social committee helping organise events. She was also secretary of the Kaipaki Athletic Club before she married and was secretary of the Kaipaki Ladies Guild for many years. Elwyn held the same position in the Kaipaki Cricket Club for over a decade while her husband of more than 60 years, Ray Bradley, was chairman.
She has judged countless lambs for local primary schools and been involved in numerous A & P Shows. “The last thing I did was as champion judge for A & P Shows,” she said.
With all that service has come a slew of awards. There was a Certificate of Appreciation from the Waipā District Council (WDC) in August 2005, awarded by then Mayor Alan Livingston in recognition of her ‘valuable and significant’ voluntary service, and another WDC Pirongia Community Award for her contribution to Kaipaki.
Life membership was conferred on Elwyn in 1990 by the Kaipaki Ladies Church Guild, and by the Kaipaki Settlers Hall Association, the latter given for her ‘outstanding service’ to the local community.
Elwyn and Ray have been in lockstep right from the start. Elwyn was born and grew up in the area, attending Ōhaupō, School at primary level. She was a Kite by birth who grew up on a family farm which she later discovered backed on to the one she and Ray purchased. They met when Ray, a Hawke’s Bay lad, came to visit a cousin when Elwyn was still at Hamilton Girls’ High School. Once they wed and had a few youngsters in tow, they bought their 89.9 ha farm. It was ‘an old wreck of a place’ said Ray, much of it untouched, full of tea tree and blackberry.
Hard years were spent knocking the farm into shape and raising four children, yet they both managed to live a full community life. Ray was on the Kaipaki Hall Committee for 35 years and was involved in various sporting clubs as well as Harness Racing Waikato. The latter acknowledged his ‘achievements and dedication’ with an award.
The hall committee was more active then than now. Dances were held, other functions and meetings plentiful, Sunday school romps and concerts and mid-winter Christmases started by Elwyn, always with Santa’s arrival locked in.
In 2011, management of the hall switched to a Board. Elwyn remained involved but said it became ‘more of a business’. Now, she said, it’s time for someone else to take over.
“I’ve tried to resign a few times, but never quite got there. This time, I had to make a firm decision because of my health. It’s the right time now.”
Her father and brother were on the hall committee too. One childhood memory held dear is of her going to the hall with her mother to fold bandages for the war effort.
Family has filled her life. They lost one of their four in recent years, but have 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, with another on the way.