The Brisbane Eisteddfod Inc.
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Gwen Leeson Tribute

GWENETH (GWEN) LEESON

Gwen Leeson Tribute​Brisbane Eisteddfod Committee members were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Gwen Leeson, who served as a member of our committee for over twenty tears. Gwen was eighty-eight, born in Dungog NSW in 1928.

Gwen took over as Dance Convenor from Sandra Breen, another well known dance identity, in an era when the entire Dance Section (both Solos and Groups) could be contained in one long weekend. She worked to build up the section, and it deveoped into the largest of the eisteddfod sections, eventually extending to two weeks duration.

Gwen was assisted in her convenorship role by her husband, Norm, who joined the committee as Treasurer at the same time as Gwen became Dance Convenor. Gwen was an experienced nurse and her skills were regularly in demand when dance injuries occurred.  Norm was a retired bank manager and he brought with him financial management expertise and systems which are still in use today. Norm was a Royal Australian Air Force veteran who served in Britain during the Second World War. He passed away some years ago and was sadly missed, both by his family and his eisteddfod colleagues.

Gwen and Norm were a well known and inseparable couple in eisteddfod circles and worked closely together during the Dance Section to provide a well run and successful event. They also keenly assisted at other eisteddfod sections. The financial highlight of the eisteddfod year was the Choral Section, which attracted dozens of primary and secondary school choirs, plus an audience which literally filled the main concert hall of Brisbane City Hall. Gwen and Norm manned the ticket boxes and the takings over three evenings ensured the financial viability of the eisteddfod for the coming year.

Gwen relocated the Dance Section to Brisbane’s Southside. She installed the Dance Solos at Yeronga State High School Auditorium and the Dance Groups at Cavendish Road State High School Auditorium.

Gwen was very familiar with the Yeronga facility, which was at that time brand new, as her children had attended Yeronga State High School. Gwen immediately recognised its potential as a suitable and affordable venue, not only for the Dance Section, but also for many of the other eisteddfod sections.

The Dance Groups Section quickly outgrew Cavendish Road and was moved to a much larger venue. Yeronga has stood the test of time and over thirty years later,it is still being used as an important eisteddfod venue.

Gwen developed the very first Dance Repertoire Section, which was hosted in 1989 at the Brisbane City Hall’s famous Ithaca Room. From memory, it commenced with three competitors, and has since grown to an impressive entry list of around forty competitors.

Gwen and Norm retired from the demands of eisteddfod life in the early 1990’s, but still maintained a keen interest in how the eisteddfod was progressing.

In her later years, her interests were mainly focused on the activities of her family (she had a family of five) and a growing number of grandchildren, of whom Gwen and Norm were immensely proud. Norm was also very involved with power boat racing.

Most Dance Section devotees would probably not be familiar with Gwen Leeson.  Generations come and go and many of the children who competed during her stewardship would now have their own children and possibly grand children. Times change and committee members come and go, but the immense contribution made by people like Gwen (and her husband Norm) will remain always to inspire current and  future generations.

Well done Gwen – rest in peace.

 

The Committee of The Brisbane Eisteddfod extends its condolences to Gwen’s family, Peter, Jennifer, Helen, Andrew and Christopher, and to the members of their families.

Gwen is well remembered by those who knew her and worked with her in the eisteddfod movement. Her contribution to the eisteddfod and to artistic talent will not be forgotten.