An Abba superfan, who devotes up to 14 hours a day and has spent more than £850 handcrafting fabulous costumes to transform her family and their dog into “Super Troupers”, is gearing up to see the iconic band live for the first time.
Retired chief council officer Jane Henry, 57, who attends Abba events with her daughters Lucy Henry, 27, and Chloe Henry, 23, every few months is so dotty about the Swedish supergroup that she now makes matching costumes for her youngest girl’s 19-month-old Yorkshire terrier-Pomeranian cross pooch Simba.
Jane, who lives in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, with her husband Richard Robson, 58, chairman of a property group, said: “As a family, Abba has been a constant source of happiness.”
She added: “We just love dressing up, as it’s such fun. And since we got Simba, he’s a part of our family, so he loves getting dressed up too. I wouldn’t dream of making a new outfit without making one for him.”
Jane spent nearly four months making Greek-themed outfits for her daughters and Simba, who is fondly known as Simb-Abba, for a Mamma Mia party.
She said: “When I made the Mamma Mia outfits they were different from the Abba ones. In a style way, I was looking at things that were more Greek-themed.
“More frilled sleeves and embellishment and more Mediterranean.
“It took me a long time to make the outfits, three months as I hand stitched all the stones. But we all looked absolutely amazing, especially Simba.”
Now the clever seamstress says her focus has shifted to the nine sequin-festooned outfits she needs to finish as part of a wardrobe of tribute gear to watch the band’s avatar concert, Voyage, in London in May and June this year.
Jane said: “It’s not a job and I don’t open the office up to sew every day, but I have the sewing machine out constantly.
“I’m going to Voyage on the opening night on my own and I’m making myself and Simba an outfit. But he can’t come, unfortunately.”
She added: “Then we’re all going together on June 10, so I have to make everyone’s outfits.
“I’m doing white bomber jackets with ABBA on the back, leather belts with feathers. It’s going to be amazing.
“I start at 8.30am and I will be working until I go to bed to get them finished.”
She added: “Apart from my family, my life is Abba.
“My whole floor is covered in sequinned material and black mesh. Fabric is just all over the place.”
It will be the first time Jane will ever have seen her idols perform live – a dream she has had since she was just nine years old and saw Abba win the Eurovision song contest in 1974 on TV singing Waterloo.
She added: “Abba’s image and costumes are just as iconic as their music.
“Remembering being on the carpet as a nine year old watching Eurovision, I was just as dumbfounded by what they were wearing as I was by what they were singing.
“Whatever they’ve done, whenever they have performed, they’ve always changed the way they looked.”
Despite the avatar tour being hailed as a big return for the iconic band, Jane insists the supergroup has never split up in her mind as the songs, costumes and experiences she has shared with her daughters have kept “Abba fever” alive for her family.
She said: “These events take me straight back. Whenever I take my girls, it just brings me so much joy.
“I can take them to Abba-themed events which I could never afford to go to at their age and I always want them to be able to have these experiences.”
Jane added: “When I used to ask my mum to get me their vinyl records, it was tough for my family, as there were a lot of us.
“But I promised myself that I would always give my children anything I could.
“Abba never really split up for me. They have always been in my life. Their music, their costumes.”
Every few months, Jane goes to an Abba-themed event – often with her daughters – and has now had many fellow fans ask her where she buys her amazing tribute gear.
When they find out she makes all the costumes, they always ask if she could make some for them too.
Jane said: “This is a labour of love for me, but it does take a lot of effort and time more than the money, so I don’t have time to make them for other people.”
She has been especially busy, pulling out of all the stops for the big event this summer, which will be the first time she will ever see the group perform live.
She said: “When I go to Voyage, for me it will be Abba on the stage. I don’t understand avatars, but it’s like magic.
“It will be fulfilling a dream for that little girl who first watched the Eurovision song contest.”
She added: “I have always wanted to see Abba live. It’s my dream and I’m going to see them. It’s just pure magic.
“I am so emotional just thinking about it, I can’t wait, it’s amazing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do forever.
“I never thought I’d see them together again and I am. I am not sleeping as I’m so excited!”
Despite all the hard work involved, Jane says she can not wait to get stuck in creating everyone’s outfits.
She said: “I love doing this even though it takes so much time.
“I can’t wait to see the 12 new outfits which will be revealed at Voyage and recreate them myself. To keep the journey going.
She added: “I’ll never stop doing this.
“Abba is the most joyous music ever and the girls love it. They are always so excited to see the new outfits, too.
“Chloe is always thrilled when Simba is getting a new outfit. She sends me all Simb-Abba’s measurements. My girls love it all just as much as I do.”
Jane even had an Abba-themed hen night in May 2016, for which she made Mamma Mia outfits for all her pals.
She said: “Abba has really provided a kind of glue or golden thread which has connected me with my girls and we have made so many joyous memories.
“It’s been this constant thing which has brought us together and brought us so much happiness.”
Credit: Joe Pagnelli, PA.
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