50 years of service and dedication

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MEMORIES: Preparing to celebrate 50 years are Altrusa International of Ashburton (from left) jubilee organiser Denise Hydes and fellow members Maureen Bishop and Annette Lane.
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Members have come and gone over the 50 years since Altrusa International of Ashburton was established, but three foundational things remain.

They are a willingness to serve, a capacity for fundraising, and member Annette Lane.

Annette is a founding member of the club, which will hold a gathering this Saturday to celebrate its 50th jubilee.

The former Ashburton florist clearly remembers the club being formed, when the criteria for membership was strict compared to today.

‘‘I was going to Christchurch to tuition with florist Julia Gray. She was a member of the Christchurch Club and on the extension committee.

She said they were looking at establishing a club here and did I think I could find 20 professional ladies in Ashburton who were at the top of their profession to join the club,’’ she said.

‘‘We were allowed to have two home makers in the club, but that was it!’’ Annette said.

‘‘A year after we started talking, our club became a chartered club. Our first meetings were upstairs at the library.’’

Once the Ashburton club was established, it didn’t take long for requests for service or financial help to start coming in.

The first project the club undertook was to provide a seat in Tinwald for Riding for the Disabled.

Past projects have included afternoons teas, catering, assistance with decor and landscaping at Community House and creating storage boxes for the Ashburton museum.

Other projects they undertake include a foot clinic, supporting the BOOST programme, and creating memory books for rest homes.

Ongoing initiatives include offering a health bursary, books on wheels for those unable to get out to the library , a stillborn memorial at the Ashburton Cemetery, carers’ day out and baking for the Cancer Society.

Members are also involved with an international project called Days for Girls, where they make sanitary products to enable girls overseas to attend school classes they would otherwise miss out on.

For 50 years the club has met twice a month, once for a business meeting and the other for programme with a speaker.

When Maureen Bishop joined the club, having started with a club in Mosgiel, she suggested having a meal with the programme meeting.

‘‘There was some resistance to start with, but now members enjoy the social time that goes with the meal, ’’ the retired journalist and newspaper editor said.

‘‘Altrusa offers women the opportunity to take on leadership roles, it encourages women to develop themselves. Women would say ‘I couldn’t do that’ and with support from other members they found they could and would then say ‘Altrusa helped me so much’,’’ Maureen said.

Fiftieth anniversary organiser Denise Hydes, a former florist, said when the club celebrated its 40th anniversary, members planted a special tree in the Ashburton Domain.

‘‘Unfortunately someone stole it, so the replacement one is now in a cage.’’

‘‘I’ve enjoyed meeting women from all walks of life, you make acquaintances with women who you would otherwise not have contact with if it wasn’t for the club,’’ Denise said.

‘‘We have had many fun times, with many highlights. Some events stand out such as the garden symposium and a wedding showcase,’’ Denise said.

Fundraisers had been diverse, ranging from bagging turkey manure and holding the annual signature fabric and craft bazaar to staging fashion parades and balls.

This year’s Altrusa Fabric and Craft Bazaar was just as popular as ever. It was held on March 23, when keen knitters, sewers and craft enthusiasts queued outside the Sinclair Centre on the waiting for the doors to open at 9am.

The club has set up at a pop-up shop on East St, between Burnett St and Tancred St, giving bargain hunters a further opportunity to source supplies until this Saturday.

About 40 members are expected to attend the 50th jubilee, which will be a high tea at Brantwood in Ashburton. Members of the Christchurch club that sponsored them to begin with, and national district governors, will also attend.