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 If you caught my last newsletter you would have noticed that on 27 March, 2012 I was about to throw a party to say thank you to all those people who had helped me in my first 15 years as a blind person.

And I did!!!   

 The invite read “What’s blind pink and happy?” ‘that blind woman’ at her 15 years blind 15 minute party!

It seemed only fitting to fill fifteen minutes not with silence, but with celebration and what better celebration noise than ABBA!  Well with a bit of a twist – the sound of ABBA played by that blind woman on the melodica!


And don’t forget no celebration would be complete without those bloody truffles again! This time the braille on the card read thank you!  And a special thank you to my two little pink helpers, Karen and Margaret. 



If you want to check out the party on Youtube you can find it here.

 Not long after I’d been blind for 15 years I found myself in a hot air balloon! My husband Ron’s golf trip had got it’s dates muddled so we were left with two return tickets to Wellington. Ron’s problem became Julie’s opportunity as I discovered it was the perfect time to start filming the documentary about me by documentary maker Mel Edmon.

 Mel had contacted me after hearing an interview with Jim Mora on Radio NZ National. Mel’s husband Tom heard the interview and said to his wife “You’ve gotta listen to this!” Mel did and then rang me to say she wanted to make a documentary about me.


On March 30 we began filming with interviews, clothes selection and yes those …. Truffles again and on 1 April I got to tick something off my bucket list! To cut a long story very short, I got another why not moment.   To go up in a hot air balloon!    A once in a lifetime opportunity and thanks to our good friend Allen Little and Mel and Tom, on April 1 Ron and I hit the skies in a bright yellow balloon!

 With the sound of mooing cows and barking sheep dogs in the distance, we rose to 1200 feet on a beautifully calm Sunday morning.  It was so calm I couldn’t even tell if the balloon had lifted off! The only way I could tell we had moved away from the ground was the lessening sound of the mooing cows! And the main reason I knew we were approaching the ground again was more mooing and barking.



We landed in a paddock, only to be greeted by a farmer in her pyjamas!   After gaining her permission to land there we safely hopped out the wicker basket! Yes, it really is just a basket!   Amazing!

 But my work wasn’t over – I then had to help fold up the hot air balloon! While it was deflated of course!

 I instructed Mel not to film me from behind but we’ll have to wait for the documentary to find out if she obeyed that instruction or not!



 Towards the end of March I was lucky enough to get involved with a fund raising campaign through Campbell Live.  As well as a rucking big truffle, I made loads of little “rucking good truffles”, all to sell when John Campbell came to town.     See Me Here

The truffle making featured on Campbell Live loads of times throughout the fund raising effort.  The rucking big truffle sold on Trademe for $350

with the winners of the auction donating the truffle to our local Idea Services.     

 The rucking good truffles sold for $350 in the Octagon and then again in Burns House here in Dunedin.  All in all the truffle total was over $700 which when matched $1 for $1 by local businessman Eion Edgar and friends, a cool $1400 was made for the small creditors of the Otago Rugby Football Union.  The nationwide effort, spearheaded by Campbell Live was half a million dollars! Woo hoo!  Go Campbell Live!  Go Eion Edgar!   The small creditors were all paid off with the larger creditors getting the first $5000 paid with 50 cents in the dollar for the remaining amount owed. Go you guys!


Moving from sports to the arts, the audio described performance of Red was not to be missed by the blind! Anna Henare from the Experience Access Trust in Dunedin teamed with the Fortune Theatre to bring the blind and partially sighted community accessible theatre through audio description.

 What is audio description? It’s where the blind person has an earpiece and a transmitting device with the audio describer explaining the props and sets on the stage to the blind person.     Plus, when there is no dialogue, and the actors move or do something non verbal, then the audio describer will explain what is happening on stage.

 Red was a play about the abstract expressionist artist, Mark Rothko, a dramatic assortment of dialogue which filled the stage with tension and paint! Mainly red paint after which the play is named.


The wonderful thing about Anna Henare being the audio describer is that Anna is also an actor. It was like having another actor on the stage, but instead in my ear!       Go Anna Henare, Fortune Theatre and the Experience Access Trust!

Thanks Altrusa Mosgiel and Sue for handing me a cheque! Go Gay Clarke!



Check out my visit to the Homai campus of BLENNZ – Blind and Low Vision Network of NZ in Auckland. Here I am with the blind students based at James Cook High School. We got to spend a whole hour together after they had finished their bake off in the adaptive daily living kitchen! Remember guys – the only one whose stopping you from doing great things is you! Don’t forget to write your own rules and don’t be limited by the limited imagination of others! You can do it!

 Finally after a huge amount of work from Sarah Bond, not to mention patience, the NZ Herald finally published her story on our trip to Hong Kong last Friday! If you want to check this feature out you can find it here in my media room.