Maclean resident Connie de Dassel OAM will be quietly celebrating her 80th birthday this Sunday September 5 with her husband Joe and daughter Therese’s family.
The mother of eight said that the planned celebrations have naturally been put on hold due to the current COVID 19 lockdowns.
For over thirty years, Connie has brought music to life for countless Lower Clarence students at the Maclean Music Academy.
Connie retired from the Academy almost three years ago, but still teaches privately and it warms her heart to look back at the lives she has helped shape through sharing her love of music.
While some of her students went on to achieve a career in music and performing arts, Connie said that she was just as heartened to see the positive impact music had on all her student’s lives over the years, as their confidence levels grew.
As Connie faces her milestone birthday, it was a perfect time for her to reflect on some of her fondest memories over the years.
“The lasting memory I have of the musicals era is the great fun we all had rehearsing and staging the many shows we presented, whilst raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities” Connie said.
“I also want to acknowledge the wonderful support we received from the community as we brought live entertainment to the Lower Clarence, to people who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to experience it, let alone take part in it.”
“People from all walks of life were involved; doctors, lawyers, teachers, builders and even garbos (R.I.P – Warwick Cheney), to name but a few.”
“And we can’t forget all the young people who got their first taste of performing right here in our area. Many have travelled the world and furthered their talents,” she said
Connie wishes to mention the great and special bond forged between Sr. Anne Gallagher, Mrs Gwen Berman and herself, over the thirty years that they worked together.
They joined her in presenting the musicals, along with the dance studios in the area. This made up a very talented band of performers who (through their musicals) brought great joy to many thousands over the years.
For her contribution to music, in 1997 Connie was awarded an OAM, (Order of Australia Medal) for Services to the General Public.
Apart from her love of music, Connie’s family means the world to her.
“As well as my own eight children I have cared for two men with special needs for 45 years – they’re in their 60s now,” Connie said.
“One of them went back to Wagga 16 years ago, but the other one, David Crane, is still in my care.
“He’s nearly as old as me, but he calls me mum,” she said.
Connie said that despite there being no party for her 80th birthday due to the COVID lockdowns, she is looking forward to rescheduling it.
** To see our in-depth interview with Connie, check out our upcoming Spring edition of the SCENE Magazine, to read more of Connie de Dassel’s story.