Velda Jane Smithfield is a central character on ONtv's Harpers Falls and Smythewood.
The role was originated by Australian actress, Judith McGrath, who was best known for her roles of sarcastic but extremely fair guard Colleen "Po-Face" Powell on Prisoner (aka Prisoner: Cell Block H) and crusty but compassionate head nurse Von Ryan on All Saints, but in the middle of Smythewood, she unexpectedly retired, and then her fellow Australian actress Rowena Wallace, who was best known as the infamous Patricia "Pat the Rat" Hamilton from Sons and Daughters, took over the role, carrying it over to Harpers Falls: New Beginnings. When Rowena unexpectedly resigned her role, Judith McGrath returned to the role she loved. Ms. McGrath was perhaps most identified as Velda. Recently, Judith was upgraded to contract, due to her role's popularity, after being recurring since her role was created.
However, when Judith McGrath died on October 20th at the age of 70, the role was recast last-minute by actress Winifred Freedman, best known for her role of Patty DuPont Kraus on the series, Rituals. After a brief run by Freedman, the role, still retained as contract, was recast on a more permanent basis by Kacey Ainsworth, best known for her role of Little Mo Morgan on the UK soap opera, EastEnders.
The Harper family's most valued treasureEdit
The lovely Velda is the Harper family's long time social secretary. She has been in that capacity for many years, having been hired by Richard Harper himself. She first took the job when the older twins, Michael and Michelle were teenagers.
Her main job is to take care of making sure that the Harpers all get to their appointments on time, as well as preparing and mailing out invitations to the Harpers many and varied social functions. When Michelle's twin children, Dylan, and Sheila were babies, she sometimes babysat them which explains their bond with her.
For a long time, she mourned the loss of her late sister, Diane and her husband, Allan, who had perished in a fiery car accident in Illinois. She had always wondered where her young niece, Anyssa Rayburn was, but she also knew that with her living in the Boston area, she couldn't help raise her after her parents' death.
So, for her growing up years, Anyssa was living with her father's best friend, Sam Lucas, his wife, Lahoma and their daughter, Susie whom Anyssa was close to. Velda had made plans for this, because it was her sister's dying wish that Sam and Lahoma help raise her.
Despite not being able to have raised her, she kept in constant contact with the Lucases, making sure she was ok, a practice that she continues to this very day. Due to their raising Anyssa, Velda considers Sam, Lahoma and Susie as members of the family
When Anyssa was sent to boarding school (first in Chicago, then in Brockton, although she was still a student in Chicago), it was Velda who paid the school bills for it, and it was her that made the arrangements for Michelle, Diane's former sorority sister in college, to adopt her niece.
Upon discovering that Anyssa had grown up and was very beautiful, she revealed herself and all she had done for her. At first, Anyssa was upset, fearing the loss of her new family, but Velda reassured her that she was now considered a part of the Harper family herself. This solidified the already strong connections between aunt and niece.
Velda connected well with Anyssa's cousins, most notably, her sister, Sheila Harper Watkins and her cousin, Dylan Harper, whom she babysat when they were children. She offers them some good advice, is there when they, or anyone else in the family needs a shoulder to cry on, and some of her wonderful Earl Grey tea.
Although, with the family living within a few blocks of each other, the logistics makes Velda's job more difficult, but, as always, rising to the occasion, she has everyone's cell number on speed dial, so she's instantly in touch with them.
Recently, while she and her mother, Susie attended the dual wedding celebrations for Dylan and Adam and Aaron and his new wife, Marta, Ellen Lucas had taught the Harpers how to use Facebook to contact everyone.
Velda uses Facebook to inbox everyone their appointments and sends them messages to remind them of their appointments, but she still uses her ever-present cell phone, which she recently upgraded to a SmartPhone, and is learning to use, thanks to her nieces, Violet and Jennifer, to contact everyone.
Despite her being in Boston, Velda has a long-distance romantic relationship with Somerset, Illinois resident, Alexander Fenwick, the butler of George Cleypool and former butler to Peter Delaney as well as the owner of Ye Earl Grey Tea Shop in Somerset. She loves him, and he loves her.
After the death of Michael, and Wendy moving in with Dylan; Velda herself moved in with her blood niece, Anyssa and her family. The quads are thrilled that their great aunt Vel is living with them full time. She still retains her role as the family's social secretary, and it is a job she lives for.
Velda recently was involved in the adoption of her niece, by Sam and Lahoma. Because to Anyssa, they were her parents, Velda allowed for the adoption, since she was Anyssa's only surviving blood relative.
Sam knew how much Anyssa's relations with the Harpers meant to her, so, as any good lawyer, he made the terms that she would not lose contact with her aunt, and her adopted family. This in essence, brings the Harpers and Lucases under the same familial umbrella.
Velda was also pleased when she discovered that Dylan and Sheila were twin siblings. She had always kind of known that, as she had babysat them and noticed the defined bond between them.