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Betty Watkins was born on the 13 August 1930 at Stratford, the daughter of Richard Hector and Hazel Elbinia Watkins nee Jacobsen. Schooling was at Ngaere and Stratford and while at Stratford High School, Betty was involved in a four-part harmony to present items from Handel's Messiah.  The group had little previous experience, and in later years, Betty was in no doubt that the "force" that made this possible was Miss Winifred Knight, a teacher she thought a great deal of.


Betty sang with a church choir, played a little softball and was a keen member of the Manchester Unity Lodge.  She worked in a chemist shop and later did tax returns. Betty then worked for an electrician as book keeper and shop assistant until she left to marry Victor Ivan Looms in 1951.


Eight years after the birth of identical twin daughters, the family moved to Auckland.  While there,  Betty was instrumental in bringing the Western Players Theatre Group out of recess.  Now amalgamated with other small west Auckland groups, it is the successful Playhouse Theatre, based in Glen Eden.  For their work with plays, back stage, set construction and painting, Betty and Vic were made life members.


Betty became a member of the Henderson Plunket branch, and did much work fundraising to cope with the rapid development and subsequent baby boom in the area.


Throughout these busy years, her art interest continued, even though opportunities were limited.  A more serious commitment to art started about 1970 when the children were older.  Vic supported Betty's art by priming the boards needed, and doing many of the routine duties.  Although Betty had no formal training, the opportunity to attempt and complete works, gave rise to a desire for increased experience and technical ability.


In 1972, the family came to live in Hawera, and Betty joined the Hawera Art Club.  She joined the club's programme committee, and was elected club president in 1974 until ill health forced her to resign in 1981.


The stimulation of contact with other artists produced varieties in her work with subject matters and mediums.  Experiments continued with painting on glass, miniature work and movement examples as well as producing a circular painting.  For variety, she did tapestry, needlework, knitting, crochet and wool design.  Betty never used oils, as she could not tolerate the smell of turpentine.  An art supply firm in Wellington commissioned her to use their paint, on linen, for a display advertising their products.   Betty Looms died on the 13 May 1981 at Hawera aged 50 years.  Who knows what may have been produced if she had lived longer.



Vic Looms, Hawera (husband)