New Zealand national treasures Dame Lynda and Dame Jools Topp recently performed at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility following a New Zealand Howard League graduation.

A total of 22 women received certificates for successfully completing courses in beekeeping, literacy, and English as a second language (ESOL), respectively.

Of the eight women who graduated with the Level 2 Apiculture training qualification through Primary ITO, four also completed the DECA Test (Disease Elimination Conformity Agreement) with a mark of 100 per cent. This qualification enables beekeepers to inspect and sign off on their own hives being free of AFB disease (American Foul Brood).

The Topp Twins as Ken & Ken encourage some lively audience participation at ARWCF.

“Thank you for having us; this performance is our gift especially to you,” said Dame Jools Topp.

Famous as the Topp Twins, both Dame Jools and Dame Lynda encouraged the women to stay strong, and to look forward to a better future.

The hour-long performance included firm favourites of the Topp Twins’ comedy-music repertoire, including extracts from their Ken & Ken, and Camp Leader & Camp Mother skits.

Dame Lynda Bethridge Topp had the women in stitches teaching them the art of yodelling.

“I had the best time,” said one of the women who attended the performance.

“The Topp Twins made my day. I can’t remember when last I’d laughed so much!”

Watch some of the Topp Twins’ performance on the Howard League's Facebook page.

From left: Howard League Chief Executive Mike Williams, Deputy Regional Commissioner Kerrie Anderson, Northern Regional Commissioner Lynette Cave, and outgoing Howard League President Tony Gibbs.

“Thanks to the incredible passion and tireless commitment of Howard League volunteers, today’s graduates, and countless other men and women in our care, are able to gain knowledge, skills and qualifications that open doors to brand new opportunities for them,” said Northern Regional Commissioner, Lynette Cave.

In his address, outgoing Howard League President Tony Gibbs, mentioned a number of cases where released men and women were now involved in beekeeping in different communities.

“Some of the women here, who have already qualified in previous years, are also acting as mentors for new beekeeping course participants.

“The Howard League’s focus is on making a difference, decreasing recidivism among the prison population, enhancing their relationships with their whānau, and enabling the men and women to fully participate in their communities.”

Over the past eight years, the New Zealand Howard League has had over 400 volunteers support men and women in prison or on community-based sentences and orders around the country with a range of programmes, including driver’s licence training.