Vale Miggs Coggan

Many words come to mind when asked to describe the legendary Miggs – warm, friendly, smiling, helpful, fun, much-loved, positive and encouraging; but, above all, amazingly creative, a “do-er”, an excellent teacher and a generous community person.

In her earlier Armidale years Miggs saw a definite need for early childhood learning and as a result started Miggs’ Mini Minstrels.  Many Armidale students enjoyed those classes which took place in the playroom at Miggs’ home.  The students always found the activities a lot of fun – singing, playing, moving, word games, memory skills, etc, not realising they were developing important self-confidence, self-esteem, teamwork, body-brain co-ordination, etc. To stay abreast of the latest developments Miggs also attended the annual UNE Summer Schools in Dalcroze Euryhthmics, ensuring that she stayed fit and up-to-date with dance and movement for adults and children. As a fellow music educator, it wasn’t long before I noticed the extra abilities and skills exhibited by my students who had had the benefit of Miggs’ teaching in their early years.

Apart from her initial training as a Primary School Teacher Miggs was a proficient pianist, recorder player and dancer so it wasn’t surprising that, as well as teaching these instruments, she also accompanied students for their early exams and performances. In her “retirement” her home was the venue for several other weekly recorder groups, always followed by the customary morning or afternoon tea.

It was only in recent years that Miggs initiated yet another class – Eurhythmics for Seniors, which ran for several months in the St Peter’s Cathedral Hall. Not only did she design the programme but taught the movements by demonstration then provided the accompanying music from the piano.

Armidale City Public School (as it is now) students also reaped the benefits of Miggs’ unique style of teaching, especially her outstanding creativity.  Miggs would, with the help and involvement of the students of course, create a story, write the script and the words for the songs, compose the music (solos and choruses) to go with the story then choreograph the dance and movement sections of what was now The Musical.  The Miggs -Mike-O’Keefe – and Kent Mayo (also outstanding ACPS teachers) team, would then present The Musical as a wonderful performance.  This was an exciting annual event at ACPS for many years.

The words and music of the ACPS School Song were also written and composed by Miggs.

Quilting and patchwork were Miggs’ passion and activities.  She was an avid and skilful quilter, providing many beautiful, quilted gifts for family, friends and fund-raising groups.  The weekly quilting group of which Miggs was a part of and often hosted after our patchwork tutor retired, was one of her favourite pastimes – and ours as there would often be much laughter generated by Miggs relating her latest Irish or Scottish jokes in her inimitable Irish/Scottish accent.

These are just a few of Miggs’s many involvements and accomplishments over a lifetime.  She touched many people and will always be remembered not only by her many and varied talents also but by her gentle, welcoming warmth and sense of fun.

Sue Metcalfe OAM