Our First Home family gets their groove on

The Schreuders from TV One's Our First Home have one groovy hobby. When they're not renovating their house, the family enjoy competitive rock 'n' roll dancing.
Our First Home Schreuder

He’s a dab hand on the construction site as he spearheads the Schreuder family’s house renovation on Our First Home. But, surprisingly, Tom Schreuder is also the unlikely driving force when it comes to the family sewing machine. Tom (61), his wife Robyn (56) and daughter Karen Frankle (26) share a love of rock ’n’ roll dancing – a competitive hobby they’ve been involved in for the last 17 years. And when it comes to organising what to wear on the dance floor, it’s the multi-talented Tom who brings their ideas to life. “He’s quite practical,” says Karen, who has worked as a nurse for the last five years. “If you give him a pattern – or even a drawing – he’ll figure out how to make it.” “He once told me,” adds Robyn, “it’s because he’s used to putting things together. So whether it’s a house or some clothes, it’s a similar concept!”

The Schreuder family share a love of rock ‘n’ roll dancing.

Tom says it was his mother, a keen sewer, who passed the skill on to him. “The sewing machine isn’t that different to a skill saw,” he points out. The family have been wearing Tom’s creations since shortly after joining the City of Sails Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival Club in Auckland’s Bucklands Beach. “It all started when we saw them doing a demonstration years back,” remembers Robyn. “They were advertising their lessons, and although Tom likes to dance, he wasn’t too keen.  Karen, who was about 10 at the time, liked the idea of the pretty dresses. So we all agreed to give it a go!”

What started out as a fun, casual hobby soon saw them competing on a national level. In fact, Tom has twice taken the senior’s title in his division. “I’ve had a couple of wins, but not with Robyn,” he says, as Robyn lets out some hearty mock sobs. “When I won the national titles, I danced with a good friend of ours, Trish Beadle, because Robyn was under 50 at the time.” While all three still enjoy dancing socially at the club, they’ve given up the competitive side of it for now. Robyn says her knees couldn’t take the thrashing, and renovating a house sucked up all of Tom’s spare time. Karen has had to sit the last few years out after undergoing hip surgery.

Tom is a two-time national winner in rock ‘n’ roll dancing.

One member of the family who is much happier watching from the sidelines is Jono, Karen’s husband of 10 months. “Although I do try to get him dancing after a few beers!” laughs Karen. While Jono (29), whose day job is running a tennis and squash retail store and coaching tennis, might not have a natural ability for dancing, he’s certainly picking up skills on the site quickly. And although the family were the last to purchase a house, he thinks they’ve got the right one. “Titirangi isn’t an area we know well, but we got married last year on Scenic Drive – the same road as the house,” he says, a fact that helped win over Tom, who was hesitant to put down an offer on any of the houses they had seen. “On the drive out to the house, we passed the road where my grandfather’s ashes are. My aunt and uncle, who have been helping us out, had their first house around here. It’s bizarre how many connections we have to this street.” “It feels right,” agrees Karen. “For an area we don’t live in, it’s very special to us.” The family are now hoping to use some fancy footwork to turn the house into a success, hopefully one that brings them another first placing.

Our First Home airs Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on TV One.

READ MORE: Our First Home star’s cancer battle

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