No orphans or savages in sight

making music:
Orphan’s Club Band members from left Francis Boyd (ukulele and vocalist) Ron Taylor (alto sax), Roland Matthews (accordion), Marrise Boyd (rhythm guitar), Alan Hope (accordion), Lionel Robinson (drums), Vincent Barnao (accordion), Keith Murton (clarinet) and Claire Murton (piano).
Skiffle group members performing at The Meetings on St Patrick’s Day this year (from left) Dan Higgins, Paddy Higgins and Mike Scandlyn.
Vice chief orphan Phil Newdick in his role as MC at a concert.
Orphan's Club Band - Francis Boyd (Ukulele & Vocalist) Ron Taylor (Alto Sax), Roland Matthews (Acordion), Marrise Boyd (Rythmn Guitar), Alan Hope (Acordion), Lionel Robinson (Drums), Vincent Barnao (Acordion), Keith Murton (Clarinet) Claire Murton (Piano)
Kath Kendall and the late Ray Zame performing at a concert in 2005.
Mary and Mick Rofe, and Paddy Higgins dressed up for a concert in 2004.
Orphan's Club Band
Orphan's Club Band
Orphan's Club Band - Phil Newdick
Orphan's Club Band - Phil Newdick

THE Gisborne Orphans’ Club has an illustious pedigree, and even has royal connections.

Formed in 1955, the origins of the club go back to England in the mid-1800s when a group of actors, musicians, artists and literary people used to meet in a pub in Drury Lane, London.

After a while, they decided they needed a place of their own where they were free to play up and entertain one another away from the glare of the public eye, so they formed a club.

Established in 1856, they called their group the “Savage Club” after Richard Savage, a not-so-famous poet and dramatist who lived 100 years earlier.

Over the years many famous people visited the London Savage Club including members of the royal family, Mark Twain, Somerset Maugham, Sir Earnest Shackleton, Prince Phillip, Jack Hawkins, Sir Robert Menzies, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Arthur Askey to name a few.

Within 30 years of its inception, the concept had spread to New Zealand and clubs were formed in Dunedin, Auckland and Invercargill. At its peak, there were 46 clubs in New Zealand with a total membership of 5000. Such was their meteoric growth, the membership was closed — which gave birth to a breakaway movement called “Orphan’s Clubs” so named because they felt cut off by the parent club they could not be part of.

In 1926, the Association of Kindred Clubs of New Zealand Inc. was formed in Dunedin to look after both groups and organise a biennial conference.

In 1955, a group of like-minded men got together and formed the Gisborne Orphans’ Club, a place where they could socialise together and entertain each other with music, song, poetry and skits. Although operating in parallel with a Savage Club already functioning in Gisborne, the Orphans’ Club prospered and numbers swelled to almost 100 members.

But, as with many clubs of this nature, television and an ageing membership saw numbers dwindle during the late 1970s and ’80s, down to a low of only 12 members in 1990.

The club struggled on until members decided that drastic action had to be taken to ensure its survival.

Women join

In 1995 the club took the step of opening its doors to women members, something that was not taken up officially by the Kindred Clubs of New Zealand until 1998. With a wider population base to draw from, the club again began to prosper, with numbers growing towards the 100 mark.

“Women members brought a new range of skills — not only in the kitchen, which was greatly appreciated by the male members — but also a whole new talent pool to draw from,” says Phil Newdick, vice chief of the Gisborne Orphans’ Club.

“Since then, women have participated at all levels and have contributed significantly to the success of the club in recent years.”

However, membership is again on the wane, says Phil.

The Gisborne club has 38 members and on the national scene there are only 23 clubs with a total of 1300 members.

“This is an issue our club will need to address in the near future to build resilience back into the club, just as members did back in 1995,” he says.

“So we are looking for new members to revitalise our ranks, people who like to perform on stage and show their talents.

“A typical club night starts quite formally with the singing of the New Zealand national anthem and the opening ode, followed by sketches, songs, keyboard interludes, stories, an excellent supper, Auld Lang Syne and a chat. The aim is to provide rational entertainment at all times.

“Our motto is Tact, Talent and Tolerance — three Ts — and the No.1 rule is that you are not allowed to discuss religion or politics within the club.”

Assistance to members

Although not a charity in the strict sense of the word, it is the club’s desire to offer assistance to members and widows in distressed circumstances, and where possible, assist worthwhile causes. This they do with the proceeds from public concerts members organise and conduct.

“We have a lot of fun. Members go on ‘raids’ of other clubs, putting on a concert in exchange for supper and fellowship.”

The “raids” maintain the bonds between clubs and are followed, inevitably, by the exchanging of badges — which is very popular among members.

Clubs on average meet monthly between April and October, with “raids” or visits to and from other clubs throughout New Zealand.

The Gisborne club meets for concerts on the third Wednesday of each month at the Gisborne Senior Citizens’ in Grey Street.

“So far this year there have been five club concerts, a Sunday matinee concert, a quiz night, and a very successful weekend excursion to raid Taradale and Masterton clubs. Coming up there are more concerts, a cabaret and a barbecue.

“The club boasts a very well supported dance band, a very enthusiastic Skiffle Group, a group of choral singers, as well as members with other musical, dramatic, poetic and humorous skills.”

Conferences

Conferences are held bienially over a weekend with the host club providing the entertainment on the Saturday night, the visitors on the Sunday night and the conference proper on the Saturday afternoon.

Membership is open to anyone over 18 but you must be nominated and seconded by a financial member of any club.

The Gisborne club is led by chief orphan Keith Murton, Phil Newdick is his deputy and Elaine Oates is the secretary. Mick Rofe is the only surviving life member. Others who have passed away are Bruce Wotherspoon, Bruce Norman and Ray Zame, who most would have known from his dance band days.

From the past — 1964 Photo News: • The Gisborne Orphans’ Club dealt with 60 of their southern compatriots, members of the Hastings Orphans’ Club, when they “raided” the city last month. On arrival at their disembarking point, Ormond’s Motors carpark, the visitors were medically inspected and treated for foot and mouth disease.

The Hastings chief orphan, Norm Compton, and deputy-chief, Wally Haywood, were formally charged with untold crimes and sentenced to “confinement in the stocks”. Other “raiders” were sentenced to service on the “chain gang”. After being securely locked in the stocks, the visiting chiefs were hauled through town by their fellow prisoners to the Abercorn Hall where they were extended an official welcome and released from their sentences.

THE Gisborne Orphans’ Club has an illustious pedigree, and even has royal connections.

Formed in 1955, the origins of the club go back to England in the mid-1800s when a group of actors, musicians, artists and literary people used to meet in a pub in Drury Lane, London.

After a while, they decided they needed a place of their own where they were free to play up and entertain one another away from the glare of the public eye, so they formed a club.

Established in 1856, they called their group the “Savage Club” after Richard Savage, a not-so-famous poet and dramatist who lived 100 years earlier.

Over the years many famous people visited the London Savage Club including members of the royal family, Mark Twain, Somerset Maugham, Sir Earnest Shackleton, Prince Phillip, Jack Hawkins, Sir Robert Menzies, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Arthur Askey to name a few.

Within 30 years of its inception, the concept had spread to New Zealand and clubs were formed in Dunedin, Auckland and Invercargill. At its peak, there were 46 clubs in New Zealand with a total membership of 5000. Such was their meteoric growth, the membership was closed — which gave birth to a breakaway movement called “Orphan’s Clubs” so named because they felt cut off by the parent club they could not be part of.

In 1926, the Association of Kindred Clubs of New Zealand Inc. was formed in Dunedin to look after both groups and organise a biennial conference.

In 1955, a group of like-minded men got together and formed the Gisborne Orphans’ Club, a place where they could socialise together and entertain each other with music, song, poetry and skits. Although operating in parallel with a Savage Club already functioning in Gisborne, the Orphans’ Club prospered and numbers swelled to almost 100 members.

But, as with many clubs of this nature, television and an ageing membership saw numbers dwindle during the late 1970s and ’80s, down to a low of only 12 members in 1990.

The club struggled on until members decided that drastic action had to be taken to ensure its survival.

Women join

In 1995 the club took the step of opening its doors to women members, something that was not taken up officially by the Kindred Clubs of New Zealand until 1998. With a wider population base to draw from, the club again began to prosper, with numbers growing towards the 100 mark.

“Women members brought a new range of skills — not only in the kitchen, which was greatly appreciated by the male members — but also a whole new talent pool to draw from,” says Phil Newdick, vice chief of the Gisborne Orphans’ Club.

“Since then, women have participated at all levels and have contributed significantly to the success of the club in recent years.”

However, membership is again on the wane, says Phil.

The Gisborne club has 38 members and on the national scene there are only 23 clubs with a total of 1300 members.

“This is an issue our club will need to address in the near future to build resilience back into the club, just as members did back in 1995,” he says.

“So we are looking for new members to revitalise our ranks, people who like to perform on stage and show their talents.

“A typical club night starts quite formally with the singing of the New Zealand national anthem and the opening ode, followed by sketches, songs, keyboard interludes, stories, an excellent supper, Auld Lang Syne and a chat. The aim is to provide rational entertainment at all times.

“Our motto is Tact, Talent and Tolerance — three Ts — and the No.1 rule is that you are not allowed to discuss religion or politics within the club.”

Assistance to members

Although not a charity in the strict sense of the word, it is the club’s desire to offer assistance to members and widows in distressed circumstances, and where possible, assist worthwhile causes. This they do with the proceeds from public concerts members organise and conduct.

“We have a lot of fun. Members go on ‘raids’ of other clubs, putting on a concert in exchange for supper and fellowship.”

The “raids” maintain the bonds between clubs and are followed, inevitably, by the exchanging of badges — which is very popular among members.

Clubs on average meet monthly between April and October, with “raids” or visits to and from other clubs throughout New Zealand.

The Gisborne club meets for concerts on the third Wednesday of each month at the Gisborne Senior Citizens’ in Grey Street.

“So far this year there have been five club concerts, a Sunday matinee concert, a quiz night, and a very successful weekend excursion to raid Taradale and Masterton clubs. Coming up there are more concerts, a cabaret and a barbecue.

“The club boasts a very well supported dance band, a very enthusiastic Skiffle Group, a group of choral singers, as well as members with other musical, dramatic, poetic and humorous skills.”

Conferences

Conferences are held bienially over a weekend with the host club providing the entertainment on the Saturday night, the visitors on the Sunday night and the conference proper on the Saturday afternoon.

Membership is open to anyone over 18 but you must be nominated and seconded by a financial member of any club.

The Gisborne club is led by chief orphan Keith Murton, Phil Newdick is his deputy and Elaine Oates is the secretary. Mick Rofe is the only surviving life member. Others who have passed away are Bruce Wotherspoon, Bruce Norman and Ray Zame, who most would have known from his dance band days.

From the past — 1964 Photo News: • The Gisborne Orphans’ Club dealt with 60 of their southern compatriots, members of the Hastings Orphans’ Club, when they “raided” the city last month. On arrival at their disembarking point, Ormond’s Motors carpark, the visitors were medically inspected and treated for foot and mouth disease.

The Hastings chief orphan, Norm Compton, and deputy-chief, Wally Haywood, were formally charged with untold crimes and sentenced to “confinement in the stocks”. Other “raiders” were sentenced to service on the “chain gang”. After being securely locked in the stocks, the visiting chiefs were hauled through town by their fellow prisoners to the Abercorn Hall where they were extended an official welcome and released from their sentences.

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