RSL women’s auxiliary ends after 75 years

Colac RSL ladies auxiliary president Monica Schultz shows branch secretary Margery Spurrell an old photograph of auxiliary members.

MEMBERS have accepted the inevitable end of a Colac fundraising group which formed in 1936.

Colac Returned and Services League’s ladies auxiliary members will meet for the last time next week after fundraising, baking, catering and supporting the community for the past 75 years.

Secretary Margery Spurrell said the group faced the same dilemma as other women’s groups in the Colac district, with no new people to take on the workload of ageing members.

“The problem is we only have 10 members and we only have one member under 80,” Mrs Spurrell said.

“We’re all too old to take office or do the work and we don’t have anyone joining,” she said.

“All the girls are working

and their mothers are caring for the kids; it’s just the way it is now.”

Auxiliary president Monica Schultz said the needs of the RSL and government regulations had also changed, affecting the auxiliary’s role.

“The original ladies worked hard catering for balls, Legacy luncheons, cake stalls, weddings and selling poppies,” Mrs Schultz said.

“In the early days, they made and sold their own poppies and in 1956 the Colac ladies made 1300 poppies,” she said.

“But of course now they just send them down from Melbourne for us to sell.”

Changes to health regulations requiring businesses to prepare food in commercial-standard kitchens also stopped auxiliary members baking for cake stalls, which were traditional money-spinners for the group.

“Everything was handmade in our own kitchens until the government made it impossible to make things for the stalls; we couldn’t afford to put in new kitchens at home,” Mrs Spurrell said.

“And we would have raised a lot of money; we needed to because things were tough for people.

“We catered for weddings, birthdays, all sorts of functions and we’d go out to country halls as long as we had someone with a car to drive us out there.

“It was a lot of hard work but it was a lot of fun; we were a happy group and it made it easy,” she said.

“But now we only have one member who still drives.”

Mrs Schultz said the women’s auxiliary had also catered for meals at the RSL hall until 1996, when members “became too old and had to give it up” and the branch privatised and leased the kitchen.

She said the RSL’s fundraising focus changed from cake stalls and catering, to club functions and gaming machines.

“It’s all changed now and we’ll still help out; still sell poppies and make sandwiches for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day while we can.”


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