On Saturday 9th June 2018, Kathleen Ciceley (Kay) Rhodes passed away. Aged 97 years. Her mantra was ‘Movement is Life’.
Kay was an inspirational teacher, arriving here in NZ in 1956. Fitness League (Health & Beauty) were needing a new Teacher to help keep the New Zealand organisation going.
Kay was born in England 27 March 1921. She had an enthusiasm for all sorts of sport, exercise and trained as a teacher for Women’s League of Health & Beauty approx. 1939.
However, World War II arrived and she decided to join as a volunteer to assist the Forces. During the war she encouraged a lot of soldiers to exercise to aid their recovery from their injuries and ordeal. A blanket, which was knitted by some of the soldiers, is still with Kay’s family.
After the war’s end Kay did a refresher training course and began her teaching career in September 1946 in Coventry and Leamington Spa.
In the 1950’s an Auckland member travelled to England and pleaded for a teacher to come to NZ. Kay answered the call.
Kay arrived in New Zealand in 1956, inspiring everyone with all the latest ideas from England and introduced the Medau system of Club movements, which so many of us have enjoyed and still enjoy.
Prior to the 1956 Commonwealth Games Kay was asked to train some of the New Zealand athletes – a first for the League.
For the Royal Albert Hall Show in December 1959, Kay and 5 members made their way to London to represent NZ in the Entrance March. In order to get there, Kay had worked as a deckhand on a Norwegian ship.
Soon after returning to NZ Kay married Jim Rhodes and carried on teaching and putting on displays, including a group flying to Wanganui to join the centre there in a show.
Kay gave up teaching for a short period of time to concentrate on enjoying motherhood and her daughter. However, she continued to be fully involved in the organisation and in 1969 Kay came back to teaching and continued for many more years giving enjoyment to so many members, inspiring us with her graceful movements and devotion to the League.
In 1975 the team from New Zealand travelled to the UK to perform in the Royal Albert Hall for the first time. A Club item, choreographed mainly by Kay, and again in 1980 Kay helped with the choreography of our swing sequence. It was a shame that for both those occasions she was not there.
Even after retiring from teaching Kay continued to show her interest in all League events and attended as many as she could.
At the age of 80 years, she demonstrated to her family members how one did a cartwheel. How many people could do that today!
If it was not for Kay coming to New Zealand in 1956, we would not have the Fitness League as we know it today. Movement is Life.