CWA Evening Branch AGM

Guyra CWA Evening Branch 2023/24 Executive Committee (Pictured l to r) Vice President Marni Turner, Treasurer Jessira Saunders, President Kate Matthews, Secretary Sarah Gwilym and Vice President Anne Starr
10th Oct 2023

held their AGM last week. Outgoing President Anne Starr delivered her annual report, summarising a fantastic year for the club. The club welcomed a new committee, which is a mixture of new and old faces. Members also celebrated ‘Frocktober’ in support and awareness for Ovarian Cancer Research. ‘Here's to Country women, supporting Country women, for Country women!’

CWA Guyra Evening Branch President’s Report 2023

What another wonderful year in CWA! Our Branch is 5 years old this year and our membership continues to increase as we welcome new members to the sisterhood of CWA.
Our membership year kicked off last October and along with GLENRAC and the NSW Office of Women, we co hosted the 2023 Rural Women’s Gathering. The event started in Glen Innes for an evening event at the Chapel Theatre and then moved to the beautiful Ben Lomond Hall the following day. Our 2022 Scholarship recipient, Ellie Mitchell, was one of the keynote speakers and I must say I felt like a proud parent listening to Ellie speak about being an emerging leader in a rural community. We are so proud to foster and embrace the next generation of rural women.
Our members volunteered during the annual TroutFest, welcoming visitors to Guyra from all over the state for the opening of the Trout Fishing Season.
We were part of the annual Christmas Street Carnival in Guyra where we sold and gift-wrapped CWA cookbooks, tea towels and aprons – who wouldn’t love a CWA cookbook for Christmas!
Our Christmas Party was again held at “Foxforth” where we enjoyed sun and champagne on the verandah while the children rode their pushbikes around the yard. Linda provided us with some Christmas Trivia, and we gifted each other some of our favourite handwritten recipes. These social events are a wonderful way for new members to get to know each other.
Our annual Art Exhibition was held in January to coincide with the return of the Lamb and Potato Festival. Around 90 pieces were on display at the Exhibition and Opening Night attracted a record number of visitors. The Exhibition was open for the 10 days of the Lamb and Potato Festival, and we also assisted the Day Branch ladies during their shift in the kiosk at the Festival. CWA is one of only 3 service clubs who have been part of the kiosk since the inception of the Festival more than 30 years ago.
February is show time in Guyra and our members were again out in force and could be found all over the showground on the weekend. We volunteered on the gate, in the pavilion, in the poultry section, on the cattle lawns and behind the bar. Members took home many prizes and broad ribbons including champion rose, prizes for cakes, picnic baskets, jams, geraniums and soft feathered roosters. It was an honour for me to be invited by Show President Richard Post, to officially open the 2023 Show, an event which has played a very important part in my life and the generations before me.
March was possibly the biggest month on our calendar this year, as we hosted a Cocktail Party to celebrate International Women’s Day. Almost 90 ladies from Guyra and the surrounding area popped their frocks on and gathered at the War Memorial Hall on a warm March evening. Guests were treated to some delicious canapes and beverages poured by CWA husbands in bow ties. CWA husband Justin, went all out with lighting and effects, shrouding the Memorial Hall and the trees in the garden in various shades of purple – the colour associated with the International Women’s Day movement. Guests were treated to a floral arranging demonstration from Sam at Eve Flowers in Uralla and a virtual visit from ABC Radio presenter Kya Handley.
We joined forces with the Guyra Cycling Community to host a UNE Meat Tasting fundraiser, which was a fun and delicious way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The most wonderful news came in March when our very own Mary Hollingworth was awarded the NSW Community Hero Award! We are very fortunate to have such a passionate, thoughtful, community minded as a member and friend. Mary was also recently awarded the 2023 Rotary Inspirational Woman – Rural, Award.
The winner of our annual CWA Evening Branch Scholarship was Leah Varcoe, and Leah joined us for our April meeting and shared with us her aspirations to start her own sheep stud on her family farm.
We also welcomed Wendy Warner from the Guyra Library to our April meeting, Wendy outlined the services offered by our wonderful library, some of which were new to us, including the fact that you can borrow not only books, but cakes tins from the library!
The Rotary Club of Guyra hosted the first Combined Service Clubs dinner in many years, and we were very proud of our Treasurer Kate Matthews who was awarded a Pride of Workmanship Award for her services to CWA and the community. We have been handed the baton to host this event next year.
Our Branch was well represented again this year at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Kate volunteered again in the CWA Tea Rooms, Mary stewarded in the Arts and Crafts section, and I was honoured to be invited to judge the prestigious Hordern Trophy in the cattle section.
Returned service men and women, along with guests and community members were warmed up with toasted sandwiches made by our members following the Dawn Service on ANZAC Day. We are always available to collaborate with the RSL for occasions such as this.
A change of route to the Tour de Rocks cycling event, saw over two hundred bike riders and their support crews stopover in Guyra on a very chilly April night. Members donned aprons and pitched in to help serve over 200 meals to the weary cyclists and provide some sweet treats for dessert which were very quickly devoured. Our lovely member Jenni Jackson was participating in the tour again this year, we were so proud to be able to provide this service and support Jenni on her ride.
Our catering crew were very busy, helping out at an autumn garden wedding in Ben Lomond and providing lunch and morning tea for the RSL District meeting.
State conference Delegates, Daria and Mary had a wonderful time in Bathurst and were we excited to learn that our Branch was the Runner Up in the Past President’s Award! Thank you to Mary who put together our entry this year.
Mary also represented us at the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) Conference in Malaysia, which was an extraordinary experience.
This year we were fortunate to host our first Northern Tablelands Group meeting. We welcomed members from across the Northern Tablelands for a Saturday meeting. It was a wonderful opportunity for our members who would otherwise be at work during the week, to see what happens at a Group meeting, and how the next level of CWA works. Our member and friend Jenni Jackson was the guest speaker and shared her cycling journey and her involvement in the Tour de Rocks event, raising money for cancer, a cause which is very close to her heart. Thank you Jenni for sharing you story, even though there were a lot of tears, we are all very proud of you.
We celebrated CWA Awareness Week with a Spring Fling on Friday 1st September. It was a wonderful night at the Guyra Bowling Club, and we welcomed Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation ambassador Catherine Stephen as a guest speaker. Catherine shared her journey of being an Ovarian Cancer survivor and how she is now working with the Foundation as part of their White Shirt and Frocktober campaigns. Our very own Marni Turner shared her knowledge as a registered Psychologist on how getting active can boost your mood and wellbeing. We were fortunate to again partner with HealthWISE who provided free health checks and open conversations around women’s health issues.
We have cooked cakes, pickles, biscuits, and marmalade for The Land Cookery competition, we have learned about Feral Cats and drank hemp tea, used hemp hand cream. We have painted upside down giraffes, and we now know a lot more about Latvia than we did this time last year. We continue to fundraise at the Royal Hotel, who kindly let us take over their meat raffles once every three months and provides and excuse for us all to get together with our families for dinner.
Through our fundraising efforts this year, we have made a donation of $1500 to the Neighbourhood Centre which will be used at our local IGA for the purchase of pantry staples for their Community Kitchen program. We were also able to subsidise the cost of our Cocktail Party and Spring Fling events, ensuring that these events are made affordable for women in the Guyra community to attend. We have also supported the CWA of NSW Disaster Relief and Medical Research Funds.
This is my third and final (for the time being) President’s Report and I feel so grateful to be given the opportunity to lead such a dynamic, energetic, caring, supportive, encouraging and passionate group of women. I am proud of what we have achieved over the last 3 years, and I would like to thank all of our members for their contributions, large or small. Thank you to Bec Smith who has been beside me as Secretary for the last 3 years. I would like to wish the incoming executive all the very best and encourage all of our members to support them in the same way you have supported me. The load is easier to carry when the burden is shared.
Whatever we do in our Branch, we do so in the true spirit of CWA.
Through Country Women, For Country Women, By Country Women.
Anne Starr

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