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South Peninsula Handcraft Centre celebrates 50 year milestone

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Former chairpersons of the South Peninsula Handcraft Centre at the 50th anniversary celebrations held in Fish Hoek on Thursday 30 June. PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout
Former chairpersons of the South Peninsula Handcraft Centre at the 50th anniversary celebrations held in Fish Hoek on Thursday 30 June. PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout

The South Peninsula Handcraft Centre, one of the oldest clubs of its kind, marked its 50th year with a celebration held at the Fish Hoek Civic Centre Hall on Thursday 30 June.

From only 11 members in 1972 the centre has grown to more than 170 members today.

On a trip down memory lane Trisha Elvin-Jensen, chair in 1981, narrated the history of the club.

“In the early 1970s the business and professional association had a branch in Fish Hoek, of which Sadie Juter was president.

“One of the projects of the group was to establish a goodwill centre in the old Windsor Hotel, where members and interested people could meet over a cup of tea.”

At the time funds were needed to run the centre, and it was decided to have an exhibition of needlework and crochet work at an art gallery on the beach front.

“Articles were collected from all over the peninsula and tastefully displayed,” Elvin-Jensen continued. “The exhibition was so successful it was awarded first place throughout the country. A draft constitution was tabled and a steering committee elected.”

Originally called the South Peninsula Business and Professional Women’s Club, its name was changed to the South Peninsula Handcraft Centre in 1974.

The centre teaches a wide range of crafts, from embroidery to knitting, paper crafts and beading.

“In June 1972, the first morning meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sadie Juter in the old library hall,” Elvin-Jensen said. “We started in a small way; 11 members present.”

She also reflected on how times had changed with new technology.

Meanwhile Yvonne Maxwell, who was chair of the club in 2005, said she was privileged to be part of the club.

“It couldn’t have been easy to keep this club going after all these years,” she said. “I was privileged many years ago to attend all the exhibitions, and after I retired in 1993 I found I had to do something I had just lost my mother. I was alone and decided that I had to get involved with something.”

Joining a club in Ottery near her home Maxwell said at the time she couldn’t sew “to save my life”.

“I attended an exhibition here (Fish Hoek) and I thought this is what I have to do, this is what I want to do and I enquired at the desk and I asked: ‘Am I allowed to join this club’?”

Maxwell added that at the time she wasn’t sure whether she would be welcome due to her skin tone.

“I was realistic because I wasn’t sure whether I would be welcomed.

“And there was no problem. I said: ‘I have come to join so that I can learn and take it back to my ladies in Lotus River and Ottery.’

“Again, no problem and I became so involved with this club and the fantastic people, fantastic ladies who were so willing to share. I could ask and it was done.”

Lynne Laver, former chair of 2008, said it was life changing to be part of the club.

“Teaching crafts gave me the confidence to travel to many places. It was a very happy and rewarding time with caring ladies. We are truly fortunate to have the facilities and be working with members who teach all these various crafts. It always amazes me how crafting has evolved over the years.

“And things come back after many years. May there be people who still want to craft in one form or the other and someone to carry it on.”

The South Peninsula Handcraft members meet every Thursday between 09:00 and noon at the Fish Hoek Civic Centre. All skill levels are welcome, from beginners to experienced crafters.

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