Westridge civic centre facility manager Annsley Spies, who has a long-standing involvement in the scout movement in Mitchell’s Plain, is retiring this week after 25 years of service to the City of Cape Town Ms Spies was employed at the civic centre for 13 of her 25 years.
Ms Spies, who was born and raised in Plettenberg Bay and whose mother tongue is Afrikaans, recalls how she had to learn English – having to hear and see the words to master the language.
“I used to memorise texts,” she said.
Ms Spies said before learning to read English as an adult she would shy away from answering the phone or speak in front of people.
“I was worried I would pronounce words incorrectly,” she said.
“Now I love reading. I can scribe and talk confidently in front of a crowd.”
Ms Spies and her husband Bernard, their daughter Naomi and son Jeremiah, moved to Beacon Valley in 1982. Their son died four years ago.
She completed her national senior certificate at Tafelsig High School’s night school in 1995.
“The teacher would play cassettes ‘Sight and Sound’ and I could follow in the book,” she said.
“Since I got my matric, nothing could stop me from studying further,” she said.
Ms Spies completed HIV, early childhood development (ECD) and management courses at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and implemented projects for residents at the centre.
She honed her talents as a preschool teacher at Aintree and Greyville Educare Centre, in Beacon Valley, for 13 years, completing courses with Grassroots Early Childhood Trust.
Ms Spies and her family moved to Woodlands in 1991 when she became principal at Care Bears PreSchool at Weltevreden Recreation Centre at the council depot in Rocklands.
While there she won a best ECD teacher’s award in 1996.
In 2007 she was moved to the civic centre and told to see what she could do to have the community use it more often.
Ms Spies hosted holiday programmes for pupils and started clubs for seniors, arts and crafts, and promoted the scouts.
She was a girl guide in her hometown and would walk 30km to and back to girl guide meetings in Knysna every week.
Her son was a member of Woodlands Cub Pack and when he progressed to being a scout Ms Spies became the Akela, pack leader.
“I learned a lot and made friends, from all over the world,” she said.
She has been to two international jamborees – Sweden in 2011 and Japan in 2015.
“I don’t miss a SANJAM (South African National Jamboree) and Pow Wow, a gathering of adult leaders,” she said.
At the Swedish jamboree Ms Spies was nominated as the first South African woman for the Heroine Award for volunteering on different bases.
A highlight for her working for the City was the pilot Camp Cape Town, where she implemented her scouting skills.
She also specialised in wastewise workshops as an avid recycler.
“I’m a ‘recyclebot’ and won the Best Recycling Garden with my husband in a Soil for Life Home Gardeners competition in 2017,” she said.
Ms Spies also completed peer counselling skills, management and child psychology courses, among others, at UWC.
She received the Foster Award, Customer Service Award and the My Service Excellence Award in 2016 from the City for facilitating recreation programmes.
“I put my ECD skills and what I learned at scouts together to produce programmes and set up a volunteer team to host school holiday programmes,” she said.
She said they would plan functions, hikes, camps and special programmes.
“We call organisations. It is just fantastic, especially when we got visitors and were able to showcase our talents,” she said.
Ms Spies said she would always enjoy scouting, gardening and running.
She said in her retirement she looks forward to spending time with and cooking the best meals for her three grandsons.