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The Range News, 28/1/2016

LOVE LETTER AT THE HEART OF THE MATTER

 

 

Audrey Raymond (pictured left) is forever grateful to a childhood sweetheart, despite the fact that she broke his heart. His pursuit of her was the passport to her residence in Australia. The amazing story of young love features in an upcoming Valentine’s Day revue from the Maleny Players, entitled Players in Love.

 Audrey, a Maleny resident for 20 years who has recently relocated to the coast, was born in England but spent some years in Armidale, NSW, as a child. Her father was Australian Rhodes Scholar Roland “Pup” Raymond, who played with the Wallabies and the Waratahs from 1920-1925. While in Armidale she caught the eye of local lad Colin. He was smitten with the seven-year-old English rose and wrote her a love letter asking for her hand in marriage; it was an offer Audrey was obliged to refuse. She returned to her home country when she turned 18.

Fast forward 30 years.

 “The Australian Government took my passport away from me, which I’d had all my life, the reason being that they suddenly discovered I’d been born in England,” Audrey recalls. “When they took my passport away they said, ‘If you can prove you were in Australia before 1948 and you can prove that your father was this famous rugby player we’ll give you your Australian citizenship back’.

 “I rang my mother, who in an amazing coincidence had just found a newspaper cutting describing Daddy making a winning try in Twickenham with no pants on; and she’d also found the love letter written by Colin (which was dated, with the Armidale address) and because of the date of the love letter it was proved that I was in Australia at the relevant time.” Audrey explains that while it was common for rugby players of the era to pull a rival’s shorts off during the rough-and-tumble of play, usually they were covered by their teammates while they restored their modesty. Pup’s determination to score against England despite his state of undress was newsworthy.

With her passport restored on the strength of this evidence, Audrey spent 10 years in Sydney before discovering the Sunshine Coast hinterland on a holiday. She promptly moved to Maleny. She has been a member of the Maleny Players for six years, performing in the annual pantomime and featuring in a number of productions, including last year’s triumph Billy Goes to War. She began a life-long amateur acting career alongside the late great Ruth Cracknell (of TV’s Mother and Son fame) at the Independent Theatre in Sydney run by Doris Fitton.

 She subsequently qualified as a choreographer and dance teacher in London, and opened a school in Kent. Her resume also includes a stint in the public service  and secondment to the English Foreign Office in Singapore; opening a Coca-Cola office and teaching English with the Diplomatic Corps in Senegal; working with the disabled in London as well as in antique jewellery; a job with the United Nations in Geneva; brief marriage to an English Naval officer; when that ended, she moved into personnel management and administration.

 For some years Audrey taught classical decoupage, and also wrote a book, Traditional Decoupage, on the 17th century Florentine art of decorating surfaces with cut up paper images and then covering them with 40 layers of varnish. She ran classes in Maleny, but her current passion and business is Images de Plumes (dressing images in feathers). Her work can be seen at  www.feathersinart.com.

As well as her citizenship story being told in the skit, “Young Love”, in the upcoming Players in Love, Audrey is performing two of the 13 pieces in the production. Lyn and Rodney Browne (pictured above) play the young Audrey and Colin. Audrey's contributions concern middle-aged romance and unrequited love. Audrey’s own current love is her Jack Russell cross, Bertie, who performs 32 tricks and like any desirable companion, wipes his feet before entering the house. She has been in contact with the spurned Colin, who is now a retired vet.

Players in Love will be performed at the Playhouse, Maleny Showgrounds, at 7pm on February 13 and 2.30pm and 7pm on Valentine’s Day, February 14. It is rated M and tickets, $15, include a glass of bubbles.