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50 years an entertainer


It takes a lot of dedication to be in a club for more than half of your life.

But that is exactly what was celebrated at the Masterton Savage Club last month.

Randell Mellish, 90, was presented with a badge to commemorate 50 years as a member of the Masterton Savage Club.

The club, now known as the Masterton Savage Entertainers Club, is a group of entertainers who perform skits and sketches, as well as music and poetry.

The club has entertained Wairarapa people for more than 100 years, putting on a number of shows annually, and taking their talents to Wairarapa rest homes.

On Saturday, members and their friends got the party started for Randell with some singing and poetry before he began reminiscing on some of the lesser known stories in the club’s long history – including the one time that ladies’ underwear was found strewn around the clubrooms following a 21st birthday party.

“We had hired the hall out to some people for a 21st birthday party,” Randell told members.

“And we hadn’t long had the floor re-done.

“At midnight the mum and dad had to go home for religious beliefs, and so, in came all their mates.

“They had a tanker downstairs full of booze, and a hose up the steps.”

During the night, somebody had cut the hose in half, flooding the new floor with booze, Randell said.

Randell also told of the story where he had to break into the club’s own tour bus in Te Kuiti after the bus driver had locked the keys inside.

“I joined the club in 1968… and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it really,” Randell said.

Over the years I have put a lot of work into it, and kept the place going.

“I was secretary for 28 years and I was chief 1975 and 1976, and now I am the patron.

“When I joined, I never dreamed that I’d be here for 50 years.”

It wasn’t until 1998 that Savage Clubs around New Zealand began accepting women as members.

Before that, Randell was the female impersonator of the Masterton entertainment troupe.

“We would  go out somewhere and entertain, and I remember at one stage somebody asked, who’s the lady you’ve got in the club – because it was a men’s club in those days.

“And I would say, that was me.

“I had a dozen different wigs, from blonde ones to black ones, and straight ones, to curly ones.”

As well as presenting Randell with a 50-years badge, club members Roy Merriman and Cliff Morris were recognised for 45 years as members, and Ian Palmer for 30 years.

The Masterton Savage Entertainers Club is seeking more members and, in particular, someone to help with the piano playing.

If you would like to join, call the club president Doreen Wakefield on 06 370 4604.


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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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