End of an Era at Wongaburra

Heather Barnes, Gwen Elliott, Elaine Reid, Lynette Kenny and Edna Loveday.
Heather Barnes, Gwen Elliott, Elaine Reid, Lynette Kenny and Edna Loveday.

The Wongaburra Women’s Auxiliary has marked the end of an era, celebrating more than half a century of tireless community work as they disbanded due to the ongoing challenges of volunteering their services in a Covid world.

In 1968, some of Beaudesert’s most proactive women formed the auxiliary to raise funds for the then proposed Wongaburra Aged Care home.

They agreed to pay a membership fee of 50 cents and one of the inaugural members, Mrs Ward, offered to make a Christmas cake to be raffled at the Lions Christmas Carnival.

In a testament to Beaudesert’s community strength, Wongaburra’s first hostel unit for 12 residents opened in 1970 and the now sizeable facility continues to grow as a significant part of the town’s social fabric.

Much of Wongaburra’s success boils down to the efforts of Wongaburra Women’s Auxiliary, who have collectively fundraised $203,805 since the group’s inception.

The volunteers raised that money through consistent efforts, from garden parties back in the day to street stalls and cent auctions.

Women on the auxiliary have been generous with their time, providing a well-stocked trolley service for residents to purchase small items from and sharing companionship with them in the process.

The group’s longest-serving volunteer is president Heather Barnes, 83, who has been a member for 43 years – more than half her life – and president for 20 of those years.

At the time of the group’s closure, she was one of nine remaining members, five of them over the age of 80.

Her fellow members were Lois Chalmers (vice-president), Gwen Elliott (secretary), Lynette Kenny (treasurer), Elaine Reid, Diane Hoyle, Margaret Murray, Helen Scroggie and Edna Loveday, who at 91-years-old was the group’s eldest member.

Mrs Barnes – whose auxiliary members praised her for her dedication – said it had always been about supporting Wongaburra. 

“The residents have loved to see us, so we’re still going to do that when we come back in,” she said.

“We said last year that this year was going to be better, but we’ve just got to take it as it comes.”

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