'Thank you, friends': Legacy of the Freinds of Strathearn to live on for years to come

DEACADES of memories, laughter and lifelong friendships - Friday was a chance to look back on it all.

After more than 36 years serving the community, past and present members of the Friends of Strathearn along with special guests celebrated their legacy as the group announced their well-earned retirement.

The local organisation has proudly supported Strathearn residential aged care home for decades, raising many thousands of dollars to provide equipment including lifters, chairs and mattresses.

It all began on November 29 1982 when 19 people attended the inaugural meeting of the Friends of Strathearn held at the Scone and District Nursing Home.

“So began the birth of this small but tireless group which has continued until this year,” Friends of Strathearn treasurer Ann Beckenham said on Friday.

Whether it was the many street stalls or the annual spring fete, the friends always went out of their way to raise much needed funds through various forms.

“We’ve had trading stalls with cakes, jams and handy crafts, lamington drives, fashion parades, annual Christmas lunches at Strathearn and numerous raffles on the main street of Scone,” Ms Beckenham recollected.

Through their support of the community and fundraising efforts, the friends also attracted some very generous and loyal supporters along the way.

Too many to mention, says Ms Beckenham, who pointed to the wonderful support of a select few sponsors over the years.

“We would like to thank the Lazarus family and Russ Lazarus [dec], who was very generous over the years donating a percentage of winnings from his racehorses, donating raffle prizes and hosting a spectacular dinner at the race club which raised many thousands of dollars,” she said.

“Ian and Karen Campbell from the Willow Tree Hotel and previously the Royal Hotel deserve a special mention.

“They have made the friends beneficiaries of many functions such as the Calcutta and auction held on Scone Cup eve, prawn and chicken nights, raffles and the annual hotel’s charity golf day.

“This selfless generosity has added much to our fundraising spending account over the years.”

A special thank you was also given to Jenny Rumming for organising and dressing models for the many fashion parades.

Sarah and Bill Howey were also acknowledged for generously making their home and gardens available for the women’s gathering high tea which benefitted the friends.

“The Scone’s Men’s Shed members have made and donated several items for our Christmas raffles and we would also like to thank the ladies in the TLC, past and present, for all their help at the functions,” Ms Beckenham added.

THANK YOU: Original members Joan Keevers and Judy Manning cut the cake.

THANK YOU: Original members Joan Keevers and Judy Manning cut the cake.

The group’s efforts have not gone unnoticed - in 1995; the Friends of Strathearn were awarded a Premier's Awards for Outstanding Service to the Community and to NSW.

Their outstanding service was also recognised at the Scone Australia Day awards in 2012.

“There have been many members of friends over the years, too many to mention, but all of the same purpose as set by those founders in 1982 of caring and supporting the residents of Strathearn,” Ann Beckenham said.

“In my few years as a member of the friends, I have witnessed what a caring group of women it is and it is obvious this has always been the driving force of the group.

“We currently have members that have given many years of service to the friends.

“These people feel particularly sad that it is time to say farewell to the camaraderie of the friendship and to the lots of fun and laughs that we had along the way. But we know that the friendships will continue.

In saying goodbye the friends would like to thank the people of Scone and district who have always been very happy to buy raffle tickets attend luncheons and fashion parades and to make donations in many ways.

Ann Beckenham

“In saying goodbye the friends would like to thank the people of Scone and district who have always been very happy to buy raffle tickets attend luncheons and fashion parades and to make donations in many ways.

“We have very much appreciated their support over the years and feel confident the community will continue to support Strathearn.”

Janelle Birch, who has also been heavily involved with the group, said it is not easy to raise money for aged care.

“If you have a disease or a child that’s sick people will always give money,” she said.

“Sometimes I think aged care does get a little bit forgotten by the public, but perhaps aged care and aging is something that we don’t talk about.

“We don’t want to think that we’re going to get old. Though during the time I’ve been involved with the friends they have done some amazing fundraising.

“For a small group of ladies, they just don’t stop - and the cakes are great!

“Thank you for all you’ve done, you’re going to be sorely missed.

“All the best and enjoy your retirement.”

A lack of new members has ultimately led to our retirement, said outgoing president of ten years Yvonne McCready.

“We are close friends and many of us will continue on as volunteers, we just won’t be out on the ground raising funds.”

However, as much as the day was about acknowledging and saying thank you to the friends, HammondCare at Home general manager David Martin said it was not an ending of a story, rather a “passing of the baton”.

“We want to encourage people in the community to continue volunteering and continue donating, with the assurance that funds raised in Scone will stay in Scone,” he said.

“There are many wonderful opportunities to partner with us in caring for older people living at home and in aged care.”

Hammondcare representatives also presented The Friends of Strathearn with a commissioned painting by local artist Sarah Bishop in which will be displayed in Strathearn Village with a plaque recognising their enormous efforts and the legacy they have made in the local community.