An assortment of forgotten photos found in the basement after a third member died, sparked a reunion 50 years in the making.

In their heyday, the Simmonds Acrobatic Troupe, from Napier, made up of a group of young girls, travelled around the country, performing most weekends.

This early photo shows the popular group's skills and dexterity.
This early photo shows the popular group's skills and dexterity.

Their shows, challenged the laws of gravity, with no safety nets, or harnesses to break their fall.

"It was just amazing what we did and we all felt comfortable with one another, and trusted one another implicitly," member Marie Bickers said.

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She was somewhat pushed into the group by two sisters at just three or four years old, as she was the perfect size to be the "little one at the top".

Pam Christensen (front left) and Marie Bickers, along with the rest of the Simmonds Acrobatic Troup reunited for the first time in 50 years at Mangapapa, Hastings. Photo / Duncan Brown
Pam Christensen (front left) and Marie Bickers, along with the rest of the Simmonds Acrobatic Troup reunited for the first time in 50 years at Mangapapa, Hastings. Photo / Duncan Brown

But she quickly fell in love with the sport, only officially leaving at the age of 28.

The troupe was formed by Charlie Simmonds in 1931.

But when he died in 1962, his daughter, Mavis Simmonds, who later received a QSM for services to sport in 1997, took over.

While he had the troupe on the ground, Mavis, who had been an acrobat herself, preferred the performance in the air.

"She took us up high, and the higher we could go, the better she liked it, because she wanted to keep the audience on the edge of their seats."

They often encountered venues where the roof was not high enough, she said.

Bickers remembers their coach as someone who practised what she preached. Her mantra was: "Come on, if you want to do it, work harder".

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"She remained expressionless while we performed but later in the dressing room she would be full of praise or one of us would be trying to hide to escape her glare if we had mucked up."

They performed with some notable names, including The Howard Morrison Quartet, Suzanne Prentice, Jim McNaught, Nick and his Nickatene Brass and Brendon Dugan.

The Queen and Duke even saw them perform in 1975.

But as the years went on, girls came and went. Since then three members have passed on, including two of Bickers' sisters and another member late last year.

She says it had been on her "bucket-list" to come together again and probably will never happen in the future. This weekend, 19 of the 25 living members, travelled to their old haunts in Napier, visiting Mangapapa and the Soundshell.

"Some of these girls I haven't seen in over 50 years but I still remembered them as they were such a big part of my life when I was little," Bickers said.

"We are just so fortunate to have been lucky enough to be involved."