A mother’s love, a son’s devotion

For years, Kevin McGuckin was devoted to accompanying his mother to the ballet, even if it involved driving 3,600 kilometres.

By Chelsea Clark

Going to the ballet was a special occasion for Kevin McGuckin and his beloved mother, Pat. For years, Kevin was devoted to accompanying Pat to almost every Queensland Ballet production- even if it took approximately 20 hours by car.

“I used to drive down to Sydney and bring her up to Stanthorpe. We would spend the night here and then go see a QB production or attend a QB function. We would then spend some time in Stanthorpe before I drove her home,” recalls Kevin.

“I would drive 3,600 kilometres to take her to the ballet. When I tell people that, they never believe me!”

The first QB production Kevin and Pat saw together was closing night of Peter Pan in 2017. With Pat being a big fan of Artistic Director Li Cunxin AO, Kevin had told her that they may see Li sitting in the audience, but Pat refused to believe him.

“Mum worshipped Li. She thought he was the most terrific bloke,” says Kevin.

“She didn’t believe he would be in the crowd, so we had a little bet and I told her that if I saw him, I would get his autograph for her.”

To Pat’s disbelief, Mary and Li were sitting just one row behind them.

“I leant over to Mary and asked her if Li could sign our program for us. Li was kind enough to agree, but we didn’t have a pen!” recalls Kevin.

“I was yelling down our row asking if anyone had a pen. At this stage Mum was sinking in her chair in embarrassment, pretending she didn’t know me. But we got the autograph!” he says.

Kevin says that Pat was utterly devoted to QB. Together, they would attend the Company’s productions, dress rehearsals and functions. Pat particularly loved the mid-week performances that would include a Q&A session with some of the dancers after the show.

“Mum thought all the young dancers were wonderful… she said Queensland Ballet was the best Company in the world!” recalls Kevin.

“We had season tickets for 2020, but when the season moved to 2021 Mum was unfortunately too sick to attend.”

Pat unfortunately passed away in March this year after a long battle with cancer, but Kevin has many fond memories of those trips to the ballet with his mother. He recalls another special moment between Pat and Li at a QB Friends function at Queensland Ballet Academy in January last year.

“Mum was talking to Li and told him that in 1964 she saw Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev perform in Sydney. As soon as she told him that, Li’s eyes lit up and I managed to snap a photo [of the two of them],” says Kevin.

“I had the photo enlarged and framed, and it sat proudly in the front entryway of her home in Sydney.”

Since Pat’s passing, Kevin has continued to keep up the tradition of regularly going to the ballet. He is a season ticket holder, and recently attended The Sleeping Beauty with a friend. Kevin is especially looking forward to Dracula, Bespoke, and the Company’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.

He is confident that his mother’s love of ballet will continue down the family line.

“Pat had eight Great-Grandchildren, with another on the way. They are all learning ballet, and I am fairly sure the next one will be taught ballet too.”