Andrew Bruce FORDYCE 1925-2004
Many dancers knew Bruce as devisor of the movements and music of the much-loved dance, now danced worldwide, Seton’s Ceilidh Band’. Members of the Hastings Club also knew him as ‘Mary’s husband, an enthusiastic and competent dancer, instigator of many novel ideas and skits for dancing events, and as devisor of music and dances to mark many special occasions. Much of New Zealand’s Scottish country dancing history is now recorded in Bruce’s music and dances.
Bruce’s involvement with Scottish country dancing began in the early 1950s when, as a young piper, he was asked by Jack Seton to play at Hastings dances. With Jack, Nancy Baxter and Shirley Child, Bruce organised and ran New Zealand’s first Summer School at Napier Boys’ High School in 1954-55. He joined the RSCDS early in his involvement in dancing, and was a life member. It was at Scottish country dancing that he met (and later married) Mary McNair, and we often heard tell of the many activities of those early days – dancing at Morison’s Bush, trips to Wallaceville, Wellington and Whakatane, and massed dancing at the Highland Games.
Bruce was born in Auckland, and from the age of 12 was educated at St Andrew’s College in Christchurch. Later his teaching career took him to Napier and Waipawa, and then with his family to Lincoln, Featherston and Havelock North where he retired.
Bruce was a talented man with unbound enthusiasm for everything in which he became involved. After many years pursuing other interests including tramping and model engineering, he returned to Scottish country dancing in 2001. He was a dedicated committee member, supporting the Hastings Club in every way possible, and his contribution was much appreciated. He was instrumental in the club becoming incorporated, and he designed our attractive emblem. He and Mary danced up to four times a week, attended the last three Summer Schools and often drove hours to and from other club’s formal evenings (‘you can’t expect visitors to come to ours if we don’t go to theirs’ was often heard). Hastings dancers spent many hours testing his new dances and enjoying the trials, tribulations and fellowship involved in the process.
How to publicise Scottish country dancing provided a challenge for Bruce and resulted in ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness monster appearing and winning prizes in Hastings Blossom Parades. This clever project gave Bruce’s engineering skills and his organisational and creative abilities full flight.
Bruce passed away in April 2004, shortly after his 49th wedding anniversary, which he and Mary celebrated with family and fellow Scottish Country Dancers at a ceilidh he had organised.