Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Friday, January 27, 2017

Familiar Face: Sue Britt

Sue Britt is a very familiar face in the Halswell community because she has lived here for twenty years but also because of her public performances as the ever patient assistant of Elgregoe aka Greg Britt, Sue's husband. Sue and Greg are recognised as two of New Zealand's top school show performers and spend most of their time delivering a 'You've Got the Power' message that has been seen by over 850, 000 students and reaches an estimated twenty percent of New Zealand Year 1-8 students every year. Combined in their show are tricks, ventriloquism, puppets, parrots, songs, poems, amazing illusion and audience participation making a fast and fun show. Their passion is not just to perform great shows but to challenge students about how they treat others at school. The traffic theme this year, taught students "to STOP bullying, to SLOW down and think about what they can say and to go and be the student that can make a difference."

A born and bred Cantabrian, Sue went to St Martins Primary and Cashmere High. Sports and creative classes such as cooking and sewing caught Sue's interest, rather than traditional academic subjects. On leaving school, Sue enjoyed working as a receptionist for an accounting firm. Life took a different turn when she met Greg through a youth group and they married. Sue's life became focused on raising their children and working part-time. Once her children were independent, Sue began touring with her husband, entertaining children throughout New Zealand.

The El Gregoe show evolved gradually. Greg's passion for magic led to the opening of a magic shop in the Shades Arcade and then in Colombo St for fifteen years. However, stiff competition from outlets such as the $2 shops, The Warehouse and the internet began to make the business uneconomic and sadly, they had to close the store. However, sometimes great things come from the most difficult of circumstances, and the magic shows were born with a timely request from a Halswell school principal at the time. He asked Greg if he could bring some magic with a message addressing bullying issues and the show was so well received, other schools started requesting a visit. Greg then, went to Australia to spend time with Clifford Warne's Television presenter and author of many books on communicating with an audience, in order to develop routines that would work with an anti-bullying theme.

The Elgregoe school show has been very busy ever since travelling up and down the country delivering the much needed message that Bullying isn't cool, and You've Got the Power to Make a Difference. It has been a very rewarding experience as Sue and Greg meet adults in the malls who recite the earlier slogans such as It's cool to care, from shows they had seen in their school days. Sue says that in recent years, schools are seeing the importance of teaching key values, building good relationships and encouraging students to make a positive contribution at school. Responsible, Respect, Courage, Integrity, and Acceptance, are key words of the show. Sue loves that they are teaching life skills and giving people tools to combat bullying. Touring the poorer areas, tugs on her heartstrings; the places were there is not enough money for children's lunches or shoes. However, seeing many parts of New Zealand, has also been an interesting, as Sue suggests she wouldn't have got to visit them otherwise.

Despite all the travelling, the Britts have managed to grow a close family. Sue describes herself as "fairly family minded" adding that they "modelled their family on other families they had observed around them." Their three children, are friends but give each other space too. Interestedly, a public life working with children, has been embraced by Sue and Greg's children as they have all, in their own ways followed in their footsteps. Melanie, pursued a career in early childhood. Nicholas worked with his dad for four years and has now carved out his own career as a magician on the Sunshine Coast and Tash is a 24/7 worker in local schools and is in charge of the children and youth's Sunday School programme at South West Baptist Church. Melanie and her husband Sam have just had their first baby, Nicholas and his wife Jess have three children and Tash is about to get married to Curtis from Wales who is working on the rebuild downtown.

At the moment, the Britts are also in the midst of designing and practising a new show for the new year, in order to begin a whole new round of touring. Balancing grand parenting, wedding planning, tour planning and performing, Sue finds peace when walking and gardening. The tranquil surroundings of Halswell, are also a welcome tonic. Sue and Greg together, have created a very happy family life, while at the same time have been delivering a great proactive message to huge numbers of New Zealand children. These are both pretty impressive achievements.

Halswell Creative Talent

There are many creative people in our Halswell Community doing work that they enjoy wholeheartedly.  This month,  the Halswell Newsletter interviewed four of them.

Nick Hawes and Pauline Dellow of Cats in Your Face

Nick and Pauline are fairly surprised by the creative hobby they have begun in the last year or so as they are also rather busy with their graphic design business, Yellow Pencil.
Painting brightly coloured terracotta pots with vivacious looking black and white cats, had a surprising beginning: from volunteer fundraising for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter at local rural A and P shows. The pair had enjoyed working there so much that when it was over they began to wonder what they could do at a regular market.  After some thought, they decided to combine Pauline's love of painting, Nick’s graphic design skills and their mutual love of cats. It's a concept that is working as they are selling well, and the couple have enjoyed seeing faces light up as they head over to their stall. Many have suggested that they could develop their hobby into a business. However, the last thing they want is “for it to turn into another busy job."  The Halswell Market has been their home and they love meeting customers but also the regular community developing around the market.  "You get to catch up with everyone once a month without all the trouble of organising dinner parties," says Nick cheekily.  Having been married for 38 years, with  kids grown and left home; their newfound hobby has also been something nice to do together.

If you would like to see Cats in Your Face products, you can find them at the Halswell Market, which is every fourth Sunday in the St John of God gardens 12 - 3pm. If you wish to contact Nick and Pauline, see their Facebook page or website www.catsinyourface.co.nz

Paul Harding Browne of No Boundaries Furniture

 As is often the case with creative people,  Paul's interest in all things woodworking began as a child.  He grew up in a family that didn't watch television.  " We were always busy building something."  His father's reply to the question " Can we buy a...?"  was always "Let's see if we can make it. "    Paul began making projects at the age of eight or nine and   one of his first pieces was a "funky round TV cabinet."  People's first reactions were "You're mad."  "Why are you making something so complicated?" and   "Why don't you just make it a square?" However, orders eventually began to come in from family and friends for cots, tables, bedroom furniture, bookshelves and wall units.  Realising that he liked new creative challenges, he set up a custom made furniture business ten years ago. 

No Boundaries Furniture creates any piece of furniture in a wood and metal combination, but primarily with wood. Teaming up with local upholsterer, Brian Roper of WPS Upholstery, Paul  is able to  fulfil client  requests for designs that require cushions and upholstery.  Paul loves to fulfil client expectations because "they have often found a design that they are really excited about." Furthermore,  "bringing life to an old piece of furniture is also very rewarding." Other aspects of the business are in-house cabinetry,  furniture alterations and designer furniture.  Not wanting to waste the beautiful wood offcuts lying around the workshop, Paul has created several artistic  pieces of furniture. For a more in-depth look at Paul's work please go to


Lynette Brass of Wedding Flowers by Lynette

Floristy was an early “calling” for Lynette as she had made up her mind that she wanted to be a florist at the early age of five. She also  recalls getting in trouble after school because she had  collected bunches of flowers from people's gardens  on the way home.  In a similar way, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana revealed an early interest. Lynette can remember  everyone was talking about the dress, except for  her because she couldn't wait to see the bridal bouquet!

On leaving school, Lynette worked in an Interfloral flower shop and trained as a florist. About the same time, she began to arrange  bridal flowers for  weddings of friends and relatives, and has continued to do this for the past 25 years. Lynette also works part-time in the dental health department of the CDHB. It wasn't until  2012 that she began Wedding Flowers by Lynette and formalised what she had already been doing for many years.

Lynette's business has taken off and is hectic during  the wedding months. Regular posts on Facebook  and her website show beautiful attention to detail in an array of various flowers and styles. Clearly evident is Lynette's pride and joy  in her work, shown through the quality of her arrangements and the beautiful photographs that she takes or posts. Going beyond what the client expects in  creative ways is also an a part of Lynette's business style  and something that she really enjoys doing.   In her spare time, Lynette can be found in her garden, or studying the floral fashions of Europe and celebrity weddings.

To find Wedding Flowers by Lynette go to www.christchurchweddingflowers.co.nz

A Familiar Place:St John of God, Halswell

In our local area, we have an organisation that embraces fully the concept of community.  St John of God Halswell is operated by St John of God Hauroa Trust.  It is a Catholic organisation whose core values are hospitality, compassion, respect, justice and excellence which reflect the life of their founder St John of God.

Sixty residents are living on site, 24 more are supported in the community and there are approximately 40 outpatients per month.  About one-third of the residents are undergoing rehab and therapy before returning home or to a supported living arrangement.  Originally, it was a hospital but in recent years, there is far greater focus on creating an active and social lifestyle for the residents who are living with a physical disability or an injury as a result of an accident or neurological condition. 

The original hospital was replaced in 1999 with a modern building designed and equipped to meet the needs of the residents.  As you walk in, you are greeted by friendly, happy staff and spacious, light surroundings.  The beautiful gardens also make this an attractive place to live. 

The founding principles declare that St John of God would be an organisation that looks after its residents and also its staff well.  There's a commendable low turnover rate amongst the 150 staff and some have worked there for over 30 years.  One such example is Brendan Kubala, who as head grounds-person, is known for his diligence in his care of the award-winning gardens. 

The gardens and the space at St John of God Halswell have proved very useful in developing community relationships.  Traditionally, the organisation had always been proactive in getting its residents active through sport, recreation, bowling, arts and crafts, shopping trips and meeting friends for coffee.  However, Virginia Spoors, the Regional Manager of Health and Ability Services, St John of God Hauora Trust, explains that in 2013 the service introduced a model of care “My Life”.  Traditionally the service had a very medical focus but the“model of care now incorporates a much more social focus and involves not only ensuring that residents are interacting with the community but that the community is interacting with us.”  Since then, several new projects have developed.

Photo:  Regional Manager Virginia Spoors and  Community  Liaison  Officer Vicky Taylor

The first was "Carols by Treelight", which started four years ago and is an event that is getting bigger every year.  Next came the Halswell Menzshed, which is a meeting of retired and semi-retired men in St John of God's workshop”.  "It's a symbiotic relationship", comments Virginia. “The Menzshed meets in our facilities, and they help the residents with their own projects."  The next initiative was prompted by a request from the Halswell Community Project who wanted to know if St John of God would be interested in hosting a market once a month.  St John of God agreed that this would be great for the residents and the market has been well attended by residents, residents' families and the general public. Another more recent community based initiative is "Project Grow", which will be the creation of a community garden with the Rowley Community Centre.

The new model of care is interestingly illustrated by a piece of framed toast above Virginia’s desk.  When questioned she explained that it symbolised the creativity and problem solving that the model incorporates.  We have moved from a “cold toast model of care to a hot toast model of care”.  Staff work hard at ensuring people’s individual needs are met including when and how they would like their toast.

The mission statement for St John of God, Halswell is "To create an environment where people living with a disability are creating opportunities to live and participate in life”.  This is not just some glossy brochure spin.  At St John of God, they are clearly "walking the talk".