Rural women recognised

Jo FulwoodCountryman

Sometimes we don’t get the chance to say thank you until it’s too late.

However, in the tiny towns of Koorda and Wyalkatchem, two ladies are making it their mission to recognise the women who they say are the backbone of these eastern Wheatbelt communities.

When good friend and Koorda matriarch Marj Delane died suddenly at the start of the year, the community was devastated.

But as small towns often do, they picked themselves up, dusted off and made sure this wake-up call wasn’t ignored.

Madeline Hayles and Colleen Scally hosted an afternoon tea to celebrate ladies like Mrs Delane, who have been holding these two communities together for decades.

“We didn’t get the chance to thank Marj for all those years of community service, and it made us realise that we needed to thank these older ladies officially, particularly during Volunteer Week, while we could,” Ms Hayles said.

She said seven women in Koorda and 11 from Wyalkatchem — all over 70 and in the two communities for 40 years or more — were presented with certificates to honour their service to the towns.

“It was quite an emotional afternoon — tears were flowing — and it was wonderful to be able to serve a special afternoon tea to these women who have spent a lifetime serving others,” she said.

Ms Hayles said one volunteer, who is in her 90s, was still a volunteer driver for the Home and Community Care service.

“These women keep our communities functioning and I really hope this sets a precedent for other Shire’s to hold this type of ceremony,” she said.

Shire of Wyalkatchem chief executive Ian McCabe said all the women involved in last week’s function were pillars of the community and continued to serve others through their involvement in numerous organisations and clubs.

“The word community is bounced around a little flippantly sometimes,” he said.

“But the real sense of a community is when you are need, and all these women have a track record of stepping up when someone is in need.”

Shire of Koorda vice-president Gary Greaves said the women had played a significant part in the development of the two communities over many years.

“Most country towns are built on the hard work and effort of local groups, such as the CWA and Red Cross, who are always there to assist, whenever and wherever needed,” he said.

“Without the efforts of these ladies and the voluntary organisations, the town and many of its residents would have struggled and suffered a lot more hardship through the hard times.

“While its is easy to say thank you, it is difficult to truly express the gratitude of the town.”

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