The Urunga branch of the Country Women’s Association, which has been in operation since 1932, is likely to close down next week as none of the current members are able to take the positions of president, secretary and treasurer for the coming year.
Publicity officer Alison Carter said new blood was desperately needed, as death, age and illness have cut a swathe through the membership.
The decision will be taken at a 10am meeting in Urunga on Thursday September 13, to be chaired by North Coast Group President Leonie Fish.
If the key positions are unable to be filled, she will declare the branch closed at that point.
The impact will be felt not only by the small number of CWA stalwarts remaining, but also by the mums attending the Baby Health Clinic that is held in the CWA building on Morgo St.
Although the building, originally the office of the Old Butter Factory in Bellingen, was bought and moved on site by the local members in the 1960s, it is owned by the NSW head office, who will take possession of the keys if the branch folds.
“I imagine they will sell it,” Alison said. “But apparently the Baby Health Clinic will be able to use it for a month, to give them time to find somewhere else.”
Unfortunately, the Baby Health Clinic has recently renovated a section of the hall to better meet their needs.
Other groups that regularly rent the premises include the fortnightly quilters group and weekly handicrafts group, and artists who come each year over Christmas, Alison said.
Alison noted that rates on the property made up a significant component of the branch’s financial commitments.
“Morgo St is expensive,” she said. “Council used to give us a rebate, but they don’t now. They haven’t for the last couple of years.”
Urunga branch first opened in 1932, closed during the war, then reopened in 1949.
Over the years, the ladies have been very active in community affairs and have raised money for local and state needs, including a recent contribution to the CWA fundraising campaign for drought-stricken farmers.
Alison said it would be sad to close the branch after so many decades of hard work and shared memories.
She was only a child when the members were raising funds to buy the building, but remembers the effort involved.
She also remembers the flood of 1968, when local police sergeant Des Ryan turned up at a group meeting saying everyone had 10 minutes to leave before the rising waters cut all roads out of town.
“Then he came back and said, ‘Too late. Can you all get pots of soup and blankets to keep people in the hall overnight, because they’re not going to get out.’ So everyone came here and we had food and blankets for them,” Alison said.
The only way for Urunga CWA to survive is for three ladies to come forward and make up the committee – president, secretary, treasurer.
Alison said the older members would be happy to assist them, and that the workload of the secretary could be shared between two people.
She also said it would be greatly appreciated if anyone with photos or information about the branch since 1932 could lend them for copying, as both sets of records they had stored were destroyed when the 2009 floods washed through the files held by the Museum and the CWA.