The end of an era

The end of an era

On Tuesday, December 14, the Huonville Auxiliary for Eldercare (Huonville Auxiliary for Huon Regional Care) held its annual Christmas lunch combined with a general meeting to wind up operations after 69 years of support for the Beaumont Franklin, the Huon District Hospital, Eldercare and Huon Regional Care.

Founded by Dr O.T. Kyle, Huon Regional Care, originally known as Huon Eldercare, opened in Franklin on July 5, 1969.

The late Dr Kyle realised the need for an aged care facility in the Huon Valley, and, with the support of the community and the Huon District Eldercare Association, a six-bed nursing home, seven assisted living units and a matron’s flat was completed that year.

Originally there were five auxiliaries supporting the residents in this community facility, at Cradoc/Wattle Grove, Huonville, Franklin, Castle Forbes Bay and Geeveston.

The Huonville Auxiliary is the final auxiliary to fold, after supporting the residents at the facility for almost 70 years.

They have raised funds through auctions, morning teas, quiz nights, stalls at community events, Melbourne Cup luncheons, fashion parades, In Conversation evenings, bush dances and 29 of their famous annual garden walks, along with many other one-off events.

During these near seven decades, the Auxiliary has contributed a sizeable amount of funds to Huon Regional Care.

In the last 19 years alone, the contribution has amounted to $266,837 - not bad for just one Auxiliary!

This funding has provided items such as curtains, garden umbrellas, tables and chairs, dining chairs, Broda chairs, shower chairs, low beds, long beds, palliative care beds, bariatric furniture, pill crushers, warming cupboards, and even an eight ball table!

“Every member, past and present, should be extremely proud of their individual contribution, not only the homemade delights but the cost of providing them so generously,” said Auxiliary member Ann Thomson.

“The many members turned out cream puffs, fluffy sponges (that your mouth can’t manage), casseroles, sandwiches and high teas that were even the envy of the CWA!

“We did it well.”

Of course, this longevity doesn’t happen without someone to lead the troops and, in this instance, it’s long time president Di Clark.

“Thank you for giving of yourself,” said Ann.

“Thank you for giving of your home and thank you for your commitment, dedication and bound- less energy.”

Di has been a pivotal member of the Huonville Auxiliary for 58 of its 69 years.

She joined the Auxiliary when working at Beaumont and was a board member of the Huon District Hospital for six years, followed by more than 22 years on the Board of Eldercare.

She has opened her garden many times during the 29 years of Garden Walks.

On the first occasion in 1990, there were six gardens to visit, 76 attendees and $450 raised, some 15 years later, there were 226 walkers and $5190 raised.

The most successful year was in 2016, when 300 attended and $11,218 was raised.

“Always held on the third Wednesday in November and just like ‘fictional Camelot’ it will not rain on Garden Walk Day - Di says so,” laughed Ann.

“Remember if ever you are organising a November event, aim for the third Wednesday.”

The Council of Combined Auxiliaries acknowledged Di’s unerring and dedicated years of service and a special presentation was made at the Christmas lunch.

“Thank you to all who are or have been members - individuals working as a team under an effective leader can achieve great things,” concluded Ann.

Huon Regional Care acting CEO Brenton West said, ”The Huonville Auxiliary has been a devoted supporter of Huon Regional Care since 1951.

“For an incredible 69 years, they have fundraised to provide those ‘over and above’ items for residents, making the residential living experience, brighter and happier.

“Huon Regional Care is very sad to witness the end of an era, and we would like to acknowledge the incredible team of volunteers, past and present.

“The many hours of dedicated fundraising work that the Auxiliary has undertaken will be remembered with gratitude and will have an impact for many years to come.

“We extend our sincerest thanks from the Board, staff and residents of Huon Regional Care to all members of the Huonville Auxiliary.”

Mrs Clark said that, while it was sad that the Auxiliary was folding, with aging volunteers and a lack of new members, it was impossible to continue.