Topic: Betty Gailey

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An afternoon tea has been held to celebrate Darfield's Betty Gailey and her thirty five years of continuous active involvement on the Cottage Arts shop roster.

An afternoon tea has been held to celebrate Darfield's Betty Gailey and her thirty five years of continuous active involvement on the Cottage Arts shop roster.

Betty is the last of those on the original roster to retire after doing more than 350 shop duties (once a month) and over 1000 hours behind the counter selling to visitors and locals alike.


"It doesn't seem like that length of time. You just go and and enjoy it and I've always enjoyed it. It's always busy especially when people come in to buy winter woollies and to see what stock has arrived, with many local people supplying in addition to the 'bought in' stock. It was just a hop, skip and a jump for me across the railway line to Cottage Arts."


Betty has not only worked tirelessly for Cottage Arts but overall has given more than 50 years of volunteer service to the community, an awesome achievement also to be celebrated.


Betty described the story of her arrival in Darfield as "a long one" It began when Betty's brother, Willie McConnaughie and his wife Ruby, were visiting Betty and Wilbur in their County Antrim home in Northern Ireland, and had to stay the night when it snowed heavily, that the two families discussed moving to the farthest possible Commonwealth country. "The weather was awful. I can remember as a child climbing out of a top story window straight onto the snow. Some years there would be none though." With the decision made, only Wilbur and Willie set sail by ship in 1954 for Auckland, as they couldn't afford for all of them to travel at once. By chance they met Barrie Mitchell and his parents on the ship with an offer to help them settle in if they did come to Christchurch. They duly arrived in Darfield and Willie went to work at Malvem Motors and Wilbur began working for Hewitt Bros Builders (Albie and Bill) as a qualified plasterer. Six months later Betty and Ruby arrived in Darfield with their children Val and Colin, both two and a half years old.


In 1956 theirs was the first house built in Longdon Street. "The road wasn't even formed and there was only one other house on the comer of North Terrace. The council, doctor, post office and chemist were all on North Terrace then."


Wilbur was eventually encouraged by friends, Johnny and Laurie Creamer and Neil Keown, to try his hand at Cridge's Butchery. Betty remembers Wilbur saying he didn't know the difference between a chop and a sausage but he would give it a go." Wilbur is well remembered for his wonderful customer service and humour (and the Irish lilt) over many years.


Betty and Wilbur belonged to the Darfield Presbyterian Church, "a dear little church" and Betty soon became involved in the Playcentre and Sunday School, both held in the Calvin Hall. She and Jean Bruere helped Mrs Avery with catering for the church and eventually when an opportunity came to build Trinity Church,

Cottage Arts was begun at the old chemist shop on North Terrace, which helped pay for the new joint use church and has contributed over $100,000 to this cause, also providing new seating, a pipe organ and car park sealing. It is run by over 40 volunteers and all profits continue to go to Trinity's maintenance and development.


"I have really enjoyed selling NZ giftwear and babywear to shoppers and finding out about where they come from and are travelling to," said Betty of her thirty five years of volunteer work at Cottage Arts.

Source: Malvern Record 13 May 2008

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Betty Gailey


First Names:Betty
Last Name:Gailey
User Name:Selwyn Library