27 May, 2016, 12:00 am
PARTICIPATING and taking out top honours as Ms Bula 1980 is a memorable experience for Violet Langan (Dunn).
The experience is something she is forever grateful for.
Reminiscing on the events that took place more than three decades ago, Ms Langan believes the event shaped her into the person she is today.
Now living in Australia and involved in a number of organisations and initiatives that care for the needy and underprivileged, the mother of one proudly states that her life now is a continuation of the work that began in a festival in a small town back home.
“As I look back and reflect on my initial response to be asked by my then front office manager Wayne Robinson to represent the Fiji Mocambo Hotel Nadi, now Novotel Nadi, I am so blessed to share my life experience as Miss Bula 1980,” she said.
“I was 21 years old and worked as a receptionist at the best hotel in town that had an amazing house band with Sakiusa as the lead vocalist. At first I was overwhelmed and wondered if I was pretty enough but when the management explained it was an opportunity to raise money for the Nadi Hospital and the children, I had no more doubts.”
Ms Langan grew up in Naidrodro FSC Ba and said her father, Thomas Dunn, and mother Jessie, involved in community projects for as long as she can remember.
“I remember meeting with all the staff and the different departments how they organised fundraising activities, the hard work that went into building a beautiful float that had a giant hibiscus with flowers a beautiful peacock cane chair for me to sit on.
“Our general manager’s wife Ardena Nueman taking me under her wing and helping get patterns from magazines, buying beautiful materials and getting a wardrobe fit for a queen. I had the best coaches former Bula Queens, my dear sister Ann Dunn and Doreen Dass.”
And of course there are memories that are still very fresh in her mind.
“For me, the Saturday of the float procession through Nadi Town sitting on that beautiful white chair wearing an awesome outfit with my hair beautifully styled by my cousin, Ella Bennion, who ran the Beauty Salon at work made me feel like a queen. That moment will always be etched in my mind as one of the most memorable experience of the Bula Festival. Waving and smiling to family, friends, school children and community with the marching girls, the Fiji Police band playing with tourists joining in, the carnival atmosphere was pure magic.
“I remember the night of the crowning as I sat in the salon, my beautiful white off shoulder gown with a red rose pinned in. My hair and makeup done I looked in the mirror and breathed out a prayer of gratefulness to my Lord Jesus Christ. I was surprised and elated to hear my name called Miss Bula. We celebrated with three of my sisters and work mates who attended the ball, and with Rex a friend from Hawaii as my date. We celebrated into the early hours of Sunday morning at the Fiji Mocambo Hotel.”
It is no surprise that she has worked in community service now for over 30 years in Australia and is a recipient of a Federal Government Award for communitywork.
Mrs Langan presently works for the largest privately owned Registered Training Organisation as Community Engagement for the High School and Community Division.
She is passionate about the future of children, community and country in training them in finding their identity and purpose.
“I love Fiji and am the secretary for the Gold Coast Fiji and Friends Association for over 10 years. I help support other Fijian networks and work with our Fiji High Commission, Fiji Visitors Rugby Plus and Petero Civeniceva Foundation plus many government bodies.”