The Caroline Plummer Memorial Trust

Tony and Bibby and the Trustees at the launch of the Fellowship, April 29, 2004. Before she died, Caroline discussed the idea of a Memorial Trust with her family. She was pleased to know that money from her life insurance policy would be used to continue her dream of promoting peace and healing through dance and other forms of creative expression.

The beginnings of an idea

Not long before Caroline died, Tony asked her what she thought of the idea of money from her life insurance policy being put towards the establishment of some sort of memorial trust. 

He suggested this trust could further some of her dreams, and her beaming response was, "Awesome, Dad!" The very next day, Ralph Buck, Caroline's dance lecturer and close friend, came to visit her, and he told her that he'd been thinking of the possibility of creating a dance prize, to be awarded in her memory. Caroline loved this suggestion too. She then thought for a moment, before voicing her own idea: why not combine these two schemes?

So Caroline herself was responsible for combining the efforts of her family and the university. At that stage, in March 2003, she believed the end result would be a prize or memorial scholarship. After Ralph had left, she grabbed a piece of paper and began writing down her thoughts, beginning with a personal statement of intent for such a scholarship:

I take my passion, and share it with you - you who have less opportunity than me - to inspire learning, healing, and peace in our community.

She went on to write single words and short phrases that encapsulated the principles she hoped would underpin the scholarship:

accessibility (ability/gender/age/social status)
community (binding together force/agent for change/peace)
artistic sharing (sharing our talents)

Finally, she wrote under her heading Ideas for Prize in Dance Research and Scholarship:

I wish this prize to enable anyone with a talent and passion for dance, to further develop their dance work; that it might inspire education, healing, and peace in our community.

Accessibility to dance for all should be a guiding aim, pursued with the sense of fellowship and compassion central to this prize.

Above and beyond an obvious passion and commitment to dance, this scholarship should be open to anyone in the university with a desire to bridge the gaps between such disciplines as dance, health, and anthropology.

The Memorial Trust became a reality after Caroline died. Her death announcement asked: In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a memorial trust which has been established to continue Caroline's passion for promoting peace and healing through dance and other forms of creative expression. The Trust soon became a legal entity, and the five trustees were named: Bibby, Anthony, James and Edward Plummer, and Rick Stace.

Then the idea of a Dance Fellowship was thrown up by Ralph Buck, and another dancer who had worked closely with Caroline, Davina Holmes. Ralph and Davina wrote a paper to the trustees, suggesting different projects that could be developed - and there was unanimous and excited agreement that a Fellowship in Community Dance was the way to go. A meeting was organised with the Otago University Chancellor, Eion Edgar, and the Director of Development, Clive Matthewson, and they immediately gave their support.

Within a few months of Caroline's death, the trustees had decided that the bulk of the Trust's funds should go towards this collaborative effort.

The trustees agreed that a small amount of money should be set aside for ‘one-off' projects that would also further Caroline's dreams and aspirations. In November 2003, Ralph Buck was the recipient of a Travel Award from the Trust that enabled him to go to an international conference on community dance in Lisbon, Portugal. Here he gave a poster presentation on Caroline's paper "Negotiating Diversity: Learning about Community Dance".