October 19, 2016
by Kaitlyn Estens
Six decades after formation, the Coonabarabran Marching Girls showed they’ve still got it during a special celebration on the October long weekend.
The idea for a local chapter of the Marching Girls was set in motion by Stan Cole and Frank Pullen.
The duo, who served as trainers, drillmasters and mentors, sought help from Fred Hawkins, Thea Smith and Jean Jenkens to form the Marching Girls group.
After 12 weeks training, the Marching Girls made their first public appearance during the long weekend in October, 1956.
They marched in John Street and received great ovation for their performance.
Marching in all conditions - rain, hail or shine - the Marching Girls followed a number of strict rules:
• never miss training• discipline• dedication• respect one another
Failure to observe these rules resulted in instant dismissal.
The first team leader was Myrna Greenhalgh (Harris), followed by Joy Murphy (Lauder), who continues to lead the group today.
The Royalettes, a younger team, did some impressive work under the guidance of Jenny Sanson (Cole) and Ethel Priest (Kennedy), with Helen Tarrent (Black) as their leader.
A junior team, the Midgets, was formed and trained by Wendy Kelly (Corneluissen) and Gloria Evans (Vallette), with Janet Matthews (Beer) at the helm.
In 1957, Coonabarabran marched at the State Championships.
“We won lots and lost some, but had tons of fun,” said Lesley Kelly (Harris).
“All three teams excelled, no one was ever dismissed.”
ANZAC Day has always been an important part of the Marching Girls calendar.
“Some of our grandchildren have marched beside us on many occasions, they wore our original uniforms and boots,” Mrs Kelly said.
“The friendships made as Marching Girls still remain today, and those who have passed on will always be in our thoughts.”
The Coonabarabran Marching Girls provided an exhibition of their marching skills during their 60-year reunion.
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