Variety club calls time after 95 years

Oamaru Variety Entertainment Club president Ray Walker (left) presents the club’s piano to Oamaru...
Oamaru Variety Entertainment Club president Ray Walker (left) presents the club’s piano to Oamaru Garrison Band member David Beattie. PHOTO: NIC DUFF
All good things must come to an end.

The 95-year-old Oamaru Variety Entertainment Club has folded.

Formed in 1929, the Oamaru Savage Club formally changed its name to the Oamaru Variety Entertainment Club in 2021.

But a decline in active members since then had dulled that bright ambition. It meant the club had had to fold and would miss out on celebrating its centenary, president Ray Walker said.

"It would’ve been nice to hang on for five years for the 100."

But with rapidly declining numbers over the last two years it was something the club expected to happen.

"It’s sad to see it go."

In its heyday members would meet once a month and hold a concert, and invite friends and family along.

They would travel to other clubs including Ashburton, Waimate and Dunedin to perform for them and vice-versa. That tradition had continued until recently

While they still had about 30 members, only "six or seven" were able to participate in the concerts and help organise them, Mr Walker said.

When asked what he would miss most, he kept it simple.

"I’ll miss playing.

"It was a very enjoyable social activity and it gave musicians something to look forward to each month."

Mr Walker, a cornet and trumpet player, has been a member for more than 16 years and president since 2020.

The club gave its piano to the Oamaru Garrison Band last week as its final act.

The Oamaru Youth Orchestra also benefited. It was the recipient of the club’s string bass.

The Variety Entertainment Club’s members met for a luncheon recently, as their final meeting.