QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY HONOURS: Life dedicated to stage

Valda Peacock - QSM Services to theatre.

Valda Peacock is more than a little relieved she no longer has to keep secret the fact she has been awarded a QSM for services to theatre in this Queen's Birthday Honours list.

The amazing honour recognises the Waipukurau-based director's 50-plus years' involvement in Hawke's Bay theatre.

She made her on-stage debut at 16, and played the lead role in a local production of the hit Broadway musical Sweet Charity, but said her nerves got the better of her in the end.

She found her niche in the director's chair instead, and quickly earned a reputation for good work on musicals, comedies and dramas with theatre organisations in Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings and Napier, including Theatre Hawke's Bay, Waipukurau Little Theatre and the Napier Operatic Society. Her favourite shows included the version of Les Miserables she directed for Waipawa Musical & Dramatic Society several years ago, Cabaret, and Monty Python's Spamalot, which she directed for the Napier society's sell-out season earlier this year.

Mrs Peacock has also been involved with television work, such as the landmark production The Governor in 1973, and fundraised for many local service groups including the Red Cross and Country Women's Institute. She received a Federation of Operatic Societies Certificate in 1993, and a Central Hawke's Bay District Council Civic Award in 1997.

At almost 73, she has no intention of giving up theatre just yet. She is rehearsing musical All Shook Up with the Waipawa Musical & Dramatic Society.

It will be the first major production in the refurbished Waipawa Municipal Theatre which is scheduled to reopen in July.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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