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Pat Dugan

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Pat Dugan has been on stages for eight decades and has performed at the Hornby WMC since 1957.  "Almost" 93 at Saturday, August 10th, 2019, Pat has arrived at his final family show - a show which has been an annual happening.  He says he's not retiring altogether, but this is his last one on stage with his family.  The public performances with his family may be about to end but there's a sense this family will always be singing.  He's not retiring, he says - there are still songs to be sung.

Pat first sang at the Christchurch Civic Theatre when he was 10 years old and won many singing competitions, leaving him ready to embark on a singing career which would last for more than 80 years.  He was taught to sing by a nun at Villa Maria College, back before it became an all girls' school.  The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy and served as a parish school when boys were admitted in 1921.  From 1941 the school reverted to being a girls' college, and Pat recalls the singing sister being a rather plain woman, and asking him to tell her why he thought she was there, to which he responded that  it was probably because no-one wanted to marry her!  He didn't get any singing lessons for a few weeks thereafter, and later found out that the other nuns dished a hard time over it.  Post-war, Pat was in a band and has fond memories of the experience.  In 1990, he was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for his services to country music.  If pressed, he'll confess his first love is Irish music - Ireland being the true birthplace of country.  Pat recalls TV appearances on classic shows such as That's Country.

   

In 2014 Brendan lured his dad to Hamilton for the National Country Music Awards with Pat thinking he was just coming up to sing with Brendan.  Pat was presented with the Legend Award, and experience which Pat still finds incredulous. Waiting backstage, getting ready to sing, and then being called to receive the award he wasn't expecting at all. Pat was floored, and his legs went all wobbly. In 2012, he and Brendan were invited to New Zealand's heart of country music, Gore, and were inducted into the Hands of Fame at the NZ Gold Guitar Awards.  They put their hands into concrete beside the guitar statue, and Pat jokes that Brendan's hands would still be in there if they hadn't dragged them out. As well as an accomplished singer, Pat has also won New Zealand finals for the Atlantic Plough Competition and joined his father in a passion for horses and the trotting industry.  Pat not only taught his own children to sing, he taught and coached many others the art too - many going on on to careers in music themselves and featuring in awards such as the South Island Country Awards.  At one point, of the 16 winners, nine were his former students, including Katrina Talbot, Marianne Stephens, Debbie Mahia, Tracey Gardyne, Peter Kearns, Michael King, Sheryl Higgs, Michelle Fraser and Martin Colquhoun amongst others.  Pat credits the longevity of his voice to the way the Mercy Sister taught him to sing.  Pat is often called the "Godfather of Country Music" in New Zealand, but if you call him that to his face, he will protest that there were a lot of great ones before him.  Since the age of 10, stages and singing have played a major role in Pat's life, and for seven decades he's raised his family on music.  Now that he's turning 93, it is time to slow down a little.  (Thanks to Vicki Anderson of Stuff, for this very well presented detail).