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By SHELLEY TOPP

Decades of dedication to North Canterbury musicals by Dave Sanderson have been recognised in a special presentation.

The surprise presentation of the Musical Theatre New Zealand (MTNZ) Merit Award occurred during the recent Rangiora Reflections concert in the Rangiora Town Hall.

Dave, a retired schoolteacher from Woodend Beach, is a life member of North Canterbury Musicals (formerly North Canterbury Musical Society), was presented

The presentation was a closely guarded secret and was made after his performance with the North Canterbury Musicals’ Singers during the concert.

MTNZ offers Merit Awards each year to New Zealanders for their outstanding achievement and contribution to musical theatre.

Graeme Lawry, also a life member of North Canterbury Musicals, received an MTNZ Merit Award last year.

“These awards are not handed out lightly and recipients must have proven their long and enthusiastic participation and commitment to their community,” North Canterbury Musicals’ president Lynne James said at the concert.

“Dave has been a member of the society since 1983. In fact, Dave holds the record for length of membership,” she says. “He also holds the record for number of shows performed, in having been a member of the cast in 90 percent of the shows and concerts produced since joining the society. That is over 70.”

He has served 10 years as a committee member, including three as treasurer and has also acted as ticket sales co-ordinator for several shows before on-line ticketing was introduced.

He has put in many hours of work behind the scenes for productions, such as helping with advertising.

Dave has also been a member of the North Canterbury Musicals Singers group since the late 1980s.

“The committee recognises that the society has been very lucky to have had Dave’s long association, for his quality singing and acting talent and also for his very-much-appreciated administrative skills,” Lynne says.

“The society is truly grateful for all his valuable effort throughout the years.”

More than 350 people attended the free concert, produced by The Friends of the Rangiora Town Hall.

The concept for the concert was developed by Carol Waugh, a Friends member.

It featured performances from saxophonist Mark Walton, the McAlpines North Canterbury Pipe Band, North Canterbury Musicals Singers, dancer Emma Tuckerman, Hartley School of Performing Arts students, the North Canterbury Academy of Music, the Rangiora Brass Band, the Waimakariri District Council Waiata group, plus talks by Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers and a poetry reading by Waimakariri Libraries learning connections co-ordinator Jason Clements.

The audience donated $500 after the show.

“Those donations will go towards raising funds for a closed-circuit television for the backstage area, Friends of the Rangiora Town Hall secretary Christine Rowe says.