Address by Lucy Lefroy
My name is Lucy Lefroy. I am from the second generation that has been touched by Katie’s magic and energy and will be reading memories from my friends and my family in Fremantle.
The first voice is John Longley who met Katie 36 years ago…
In 1971 I boarded the ocean liner Marconi in Fremantle. One of the first people on board that I met was an outgoing girl from country New South Wales. She told me her name was Kay Clemson. With the arrogance of a 25 year old I told her I did not like the name Kay and would call her Katie. She has been Katie ever since.
At one point on the voyage, the group of friends that had formed on board was getting somewhat bored. It was a long haul to our next stop in Naples. Katie decided we needed to hold a concert and we soon found ourselves attending strenuous rehearsals to learn our parts in a series of songs and sketches all organised by Katie. We finally put on two shows for both the other passengers and crew, who had never seen anything like it.
After we disembarked, Katie and I started off travelling in Europe together, but eventually Katie ended up in Florence learning Italian and taking art lessons, while I went to the UK.
I owed Katie some money, so that summer she decided to ride her moped from Florence to Cowes to collect it. She duly turned up and immediately became part of a mad summer, writing legendary songs about the crew on Alan Bond’s yacht Apollo. That was when she herself took up sailing, going on later to compete in the two-handed Round Britain race, first with Pip Sawyer and then with Alex.
When we all returned to London Katie decided she was going to take her painting seriously and entered Art School, where she found her great love of print-making.
I went back to Australia but in 1975 I was back in the UK again sailing on a boat called More Opposition with a young bloke called Alex Allan.
Later when I realised I was going to have to get some work in London, Alex offered me a bed in the flat he shared with his sister Jane. One day Alex and Jane decided to have dinner party and I asked if I could invite an old friend of mine – Katie, which is how they first met.
My Dad Mike has many memories of Katie. John introduced him to Katie not long after he arrived in England in 1971… Here is one of those stories
Someone once described a person sailing a boat fast as if they were ”sailing like they’d stolen it…”
Katie lived life like she’d stolen it…fast and true and without a murmur of “what if…”
One gloomy summer’s morning on the Isle of Wight 35 years ago a group of us were sitting around the Sawyer family’s kitchen in Cowes. There was a pause in the conversation – Katie had stopped talking just long enough not to interrupt herself…
Suddenly she wondered out loud how big the island was. A response to that question to most people would be to get out a map…now days we’d reach for Google …Katie suggested a race around the island …hitchhiking.
An hour of cajoling later she had the competitors out of their comfort zone and on the road; thumbs up and rain coming down. To get out of a Katie adventure, as I found out very early on, you not only needed a note from your Mum but one from your Grandmother as well. She was always very persuasive – the great motivator. The English national sporting teams could all do with someone like Katie right now.
I can’t recall how many of us she got out on the road that day but I remember I went clockwise around the Island and she went anti clockwise.
By mid afternoon we were all back in Cowes (hitching was easier in those days) soaked and in one piece; sitting on the veranda and toasting our adventures.
And we still didn’t know how big the Island was.
Fanny Roberson who now lives in Walker Street, South Fremantle also met Katie in England in the 1970s…
She was a mate, whose friendship manifested itself in many ways not least of which was that she always appeared to have faith in me. I expect many people felt that way. It was one of her many qualities.
We shared an early love of gardening, as well as sailing. But the story I want to tell comes from a later era, when Katie and Alex were living in Canberra at the High Commissioner’s residence.
I went to stay with them there. Katie showed me to my room, and with a twinkle in her eye showed me the bathroom. "you'll love this! Marble from top to bottom and underfloor and internal wall heating!! When it’s white with frost outside you can sit on the loo with toasty feet and a warm shoulder if you lean against the wall!”
Katie had a great sense of the ridiculous that would make her giggle - this in itself was infectious and we would all end up laughing.
Katie had so many friends in every part of the world. Kate Lowe from Fremantle was one of them
As Mike’s story revealed, Katie was one of the world’s great motivators.
She is the only person in the world who could have got me to participate in a triathlon training course. How did she do that? Not only did we stick to it to the end with three sessions a week, but we did extra swimming lessons. Total madness! Especially as Katie herself didn’t much like running or cycling.
Then we can't forget the Faded Roses – destined to be the next big thing on the Fremantle music scene. I don't think we ever got right through a single song completely, but Katie’s enthusiasm prompted me to buy a drum kit and take lessons especially.
My mum, Joy, met her just after she married my dad…
Katie turned up one day on our honeymoon on a scooter and I was a bit overwhelmed by this fireball. But later, Katie became not only a good friend but also a mentor as she gave her time so generously to a group of would-be print-makers. And not only her time but her experience, her enthusiasm and her studio space along with cups of herbal tea and the odd bottle of plonk.
There were 7 of us who grew up in Walker Street in the 80s as Katie and Alex’s friends and neighbours. We have many memories as well…
Katie did the stuff your parents don’t do, like giving us huge lollipops at Christmas that took us two weeks to eat. She took us down to Fast Eddy’s for the fix of junk food our parents disapproved of and turned up as Father Christmas in July to totally confuse us about the season and the meaning of Christmas. In fact we didn’t even recognise her!
Every so often she would cram us into her car– all seven of us – and take us down to Fast Eddy’s for a hamburger treat with all the trimmings. We could have anything we liked and invariably did including things our parents wouldn’t have in the house like Coke a Cola.
One time we were all assembled at the table having placed our orders when Katie realised she didn’t have any money with her. We were all bundled back in the car and drove into the centre of town. Then we all marched like the seven dwarfs behind Katie in search of an ATM. Finally we tracked one down, crammed back into the car and headed to Fast Eddy’s at breakneck speed to re-claim our table and continue our high protein adventure.
Katie has touched us all in so many ways. She did more than seize the day; she grabbed all 365 of them and dared any one of them to get in her way. Her work brings light into our living rooms and her memory brings light into our hearts.