Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Jean bids farewell to Cobram deb balls

Barooga Lions Club's stalwart of deb balls calls it a day after 17 years of service.

ROB HENSON July 22, 2014 3:37am

Many thanks: Debutante Ball co-ordinator Jean Dodd is presented with a plaque of appreciation from Barooga Lions Club president Darren Laffan.


Jean Dodd is stepping down as Barooga Lions Club Debutante Ball co-ordinator after 17 years, more than 30 debs and hundreds of debutantes.

At her last event as organiser, Ms Dodd told the Courier it was a ‘‘bittersweet’’ moment.

‘‘My kids are in Melbourne, so these kids have sort of filled the void in my life,’’ she said.

Ms Dodd joined the Lions club and started helping out in the mid-90s, when the event was still BYO.

‘‘Now I’ve seen kids that have been flower girls and page boys that grow to be debutantes and partners.

‘‘We only hear of the bad things that kids do; I’ve seen the other side, their commitment.’’

In Ms Dodd’s absence, a committee of five has been appointed to run the twice-annual event.

Ironically, Ms Dodd never attended a ball of her own. ‘‘Neither did my daughters, funnily enough.’’

She said her aim with the event over the years had been to ‘‘add a touch of class’’.

‘‘Now it’s the social event of Cobram. It’s well controlled, maintained — we’ve never had a problem, not for many years.’’

But one year the lights went out, which Ms Dodd lists as her most memorable night.

‘‘I’ve met a lot of great people and it’s been a learning path.’’

While the Barooga Lions Club deb ball has been running since 1976, starting at Lalalty Hall, the tradition harks back much further.

While the original purpose of a ‘deb’, to ‘introduce a girl to society’, is perhaps less relevant in the modern world, debutante trainer Vicki Ackers said it was more popular in Cobram than it’s ever been.

‘‘Many of the smaller towns struggled to keep them going but here the ball is very strong,’’ she said.

‘‘They enjoy it, you can see the smiles on their faces.’’

Key to the event’s success is seeing the region’s young people in traditional formal dress, which Ms Dodd keeps to a strict standard.

‘‘All white dresses, no strapless, all complying, and the boys the same thing.

‘‘I’ve had some fathers cry because they’d never seen their son that way.’’

More than 500 people attended the deb ball on Friday night at Cobram Civic Centre, where 19 debutantes and their partners were presented.

All profit from the balls is redistributed to community causes, including a $1000 transition award for students moving from primary to high school.

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