16 October 2023

Doll show's fairy spreads magic and happiness at club's 40th 'friendly fair'

| Eileen Mulligan
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Nadine Kocalevska the fairy works her magic at the annual Doll, Bear, Craft and Collectables Fair.

Nadine Kocalevska works her magic at the annual Doll, Bear, Craft and Collectables Fair. Photo: Carol Davis, Wollongong Doll Club.

Toys, joy and a sprinkling of magic will be present at the Wollongong Doll Club’s annual fair when “Fairy Nadine” makes her appearance on 21 October at the Dapto Ribbonwood Centre.

Nadine Kocalevska has brought a bit of sparkle to the event for six years, greeting visitors, delighting children and helping stallholders when they need a short break.

Fair organiser Rosemarie Bowden said Nadine’s bubbly personality was a delightful addition to the fair.

“She’s outgoing, she’s friendly, and one year she dressed up and it brought so much happiness, cheer and goodwill and made people smile,” Rosemarie said.

“She talks to people and does happy things with the children and has a basket usually with toys in it. She sometimes has a wand and spreads magic. It’s beautiful.

“Since COVID, we need happiness and interaction with each other, and lots of smiles.

“Our fair is always known as the friendly fair because we go round and talk to people and we don’t leave them isolated.”

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Nadine, who is also club vice-president, came up with the idea when she attended a Sydney doll club fair where the club members wore purple hats. She thought Wollongong could do better and came up with the fairy costume.

“It just brings a bit more fun to the fair,” Nadine said. “People love it and they come in and look for the fairy now because she is a regular.”

Fairy Nadine often brings teddy bear “Tori” with her to the fair.

“A friend donated [Tori] and she found a home here with me,” Nadine said. “This is the biggest bear in the collection. She’s big and heavy and she’s taller than I am.”

The doll club is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and in that time has raised $220,000 for charities and hospitals including the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea, the Wollongong Women’s Refuge, Illawarra Convoy and the Wollongong Lighthouse Community Kitchen.

“The reason I got into the doll club was because of the charity aspect and they were a lovely bunch of women,” Nadine said.

Nadine Kocalevska with Tori the Bear.

Nadine Kocalevska with “Tori”, who was rescued and repaired by members of the Wollongong Doll Club. Photo: Eileen Mulligan.

“It’s a lovely, friendly atmosphere. Just come along and enjoy the friendship and the companionship with people.”

There’s no pressure to do anything out of your comfort zone, Nadine said.

Rosemarie, who has been a member of the doll club since its inception, said the club also rescued and repaired dolls and teddy bears, which were too precious to be thrown away, and found new homes for them if necessary.

“The community can donate any unwanted dolls and bears,” Rosemarie said. “They can drop them off and we sort them out. And we sell them at the fair.”

Rosemarie is working on a 1950s Pedigree-brand doll which belonged to a woman who recently entered a nursing home.

She is dressing the doll in a new dress and Christmas bonnet and will have its photo taken with Santa.

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“We’ll send [the elderly woman] a Christmas card of Santa and her doll which I think will be lovely,” Rosemarie said. “She’s going to get a surprise and then I’m going to offer it back to her because she might be sad that she’s given it away. She might say no, but she might jump at the chance. She might be missing it. We do things like that, nice things.

“They [club members] are all very warmhearted people.”

The club meets once a month at the Dapto Ribbonwood Centre which is often followed by lunch in Dapto Mall.

“People stay as long as they like,” Rosemarie said. “For people who are on their own, it’s lovely to have an afternoon together. They come in the door and they’re in another world, a dolly world, and when we get in there it’s just wow – until we have to pack up.”

The club has 60 members but is always looking for new people to join. Click here for more information on the Wollongong Doll Club.

The Doll, Bear, Craft and Collectables Fair will be held on Saturday 21 October, 9:30 am to 4 pm at the Dapto Ribbonwood Centre. Admission $5 for adults.

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