CWA’s won­der women

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By KYLIE WIL­SON

FORGED dur­ing the mid­dle of World War II, Beech­worth CWA re­cently cel­e­brated its 75th an­niver­sary, and shows lit­tle sign of slow­ing down.

Over the years mem­bers have done ev­ery­thing from cre­at­ing floats for the Golden Horse­shoes Fes­ti­val pa­rade to sup­port­ing lo­cal schoolchil­dren with schol­ar­ships, and present ideas to State Govern­ment.

Club mem­bers of all ages, who hail from Beech­worth and around the re­gion, say the CWA is more than just hand­crafts and morn­ing teas.

Tess Lucas, a past trea­surer of the group, is among the long­est serv­ing mem­bers, hav­ing joined 27 year ago af­ter see­ing how much fun mem­bers had putting on the Christ­mas con­cert.

She said the club is a tight knit com­mu­nity, help­ing and com­fort­ing those in need. “They cer­tainly sup­port each other,” Tess said. “When peo­ple are ill, they rally around them.” Beech­worth CWA sup­ports many ini­tia­tives, and Tess is proud of the di­verse projects.

In par­tic­u­lar, she is a strong ad­vo­cate for do­na­tions of schol­ar­ships to help chil­dren at Beech­worth High School ful­fil their po­ten­tial, and also con­tribut­ing to more global causes, in­clud­ing Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders.

“I get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion from help­ing other peo­ple,” Tess said.

“The chil­dren were al­ways very ap­pre­cia­tive of re­ceiv­ing the schol­ar­ship.”

As some­one who prides her­self on giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, she takes pride in the group’s 75 year an­niver­sary and said it was a tes­ta­ment to the com­mit­ment, hard work and friend­ship of each mem­ber.

Beryl Pope, a mem­ber of around 16 years and a past pres­i­dent of the club, said she joined al­most by ac­ci­dent through the group’s choir.

She places great im­por­tance in help­ing her lo­cal com­mu­nity, be­liev­ing you get back what you put out into the world.

“I’m a firm believer in the phrase, ‘char­ity be­gins at home’,” Beryl said.

“It’s a nice feel­ing to know that you’ve done some­thing, even in a small way.”

Beryl said there were many facets to the CWA, with many trea­sured friend­ships made, and noted that mem­bers are tire­less ad­vo­cates for equal­ity.

“We’re all in­de­pen­dent women,” she said.

“We believe in free­dom for all, and equal op­por­tu­nity for women.”

As some­one who has had a num­ber of friends and fam­ily af­fected by can­cer, Beryl is proud of the group’s “Cuppa for Can­cer” event, which raises funds for can­cer re­search and aware­ness.

Cur­rent pres­i­dent Barb Ed­wards is proud of the on­go­ing work that Beech­worth CWA does for the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly in terms of help­ing peo­ple in need.

The group in­cludes mem­bers as far afield as Wan­garatta and El­do­rado, hav­ing added an evening group to ac­com­mo­date the needs of women who can­not meet dur­ing the day.

“It’s as rel­e­vant to­day as it was when it was first started,” Barb said, not­ing its sup­port of women.

“We’re a very pro­gres­sive so­ci­ety,” she said.

Among the group’s cur­rent pri­or­i­ties are look­ing at ways to help al­le­vi­ate home­less­ness, help­ing strug­gling mem­bers of the dairy in­dus­try, and re­search.

Barb is proud of the an­niver­sary mile­stone, say­ing it was an im­pres­sive feat, par­tic­u­larly in a town the size of Beech­worth, to keep a group ac­tive for that amount of time.

More in­for­ma­tion about the group is avail­able on www.face­book.com/Beech­worthCWA.

PHOTO: Jamie Kron­borg

GREAT WORK: Coun­try Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion long-serv­ing mem­bers Beryl Pope and Tess Lucas have shared a lot of fun with oth­ers in the Beech­worth branch — in­clud­ing work to cre­ate the CWA’s award-win­ning ‘Bol­ly­wood’ en­try in this year’s Golden Horse­shoes Fes­ti­val pa­rade in April.

MILE­STONE: 104 year old Beech­worth CWA mem­ber Pat Ma­her cuts a cake mark­ing the club’s 75th an­niver­sary re­cently, joined by her sis­ter Dorn Hawk­ing and In­digo Shire mayor Jenny O’Con­nor. Dorn and Pat’s mother was one of the found­ing mem­bers of the Beech­worth CWA Branch dur­ing World War II.

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