Media/End of an era for iconic Aussie rural fundraisers

End of an era for iconic Aussie rural fundraisers

The last ‘Country Council’ closes its doors after six decades of raising vital funds to help country kids with cerebral palsy

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Group of women photographed in 1965 at 20th anniversary of the Country Councils
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ORANGE, Friday 14 November 2014 – There’s a very special lunch being held today in Orange in the state’s central west. A group of women, mostly aged in their 70s and 80s, will sit down for a chat and a cup of tea, and to reminisce.

It’s not just any lunch. It’s the end of an era for this group of iconic volunteer fundraisers who have changed the lives of several generations of country kids with cerebral palsy.

The Orange Country Council is closing its doors today, 62 years after it was started by a group of young rural mothers wanting to do something to help other families in need.

Back in the day, each country town had its own ‘Spastic Country Council’ as they were then known, dedicated to raising money for local children with cerebral palsy to travel to Sydney for therapy with the then Spastic Centre (now Cerebral Palsy Alliance).

The young mothers held annual community events, cake stalls, photo competitions and country fairs, with the Country Councils quickly becoming an iconic part of life in rural NSW.

Over recent years the Country Councils started to lose their volunteer base. With the founding members of the 1950s ageing, and younger generations preferring to support charitable causes in other ways, these regional fundraising groups began to fold, one by one.

The Orange Country Council, formed in 1952, is the last one remaining. Today it too closes its doors.

Over six decades, volunteers with the Orange Country Council have attended more than 700 committee meetings, run hundreds of events and community fairs including the iconic Playtime Pictures Photo Competition, and raised a staggering $1 million.

Today’s lunch in Orange, attended by the stalwarts of Orange Country Council, marks the end of an era. The lunch will also be attended by Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s long-term President Marelle Thornton AM who is herself retiring after more than 30 years leading the organisation in a voluntary capacity.

‘We are grateful for the selfless work and dedication of every single volunteer associated with every single Country Council in regional towns across NSW and the ACT’, said Marelle Thornton AM.

‘Their passion and energy for raising money to help rural children with cerebral palsy has been life-changing.

‘Orange Country Council is the most successful and longest running Country Council, and will forever hold a fond place in the hearts of children and families throughout the Central West.

‘Our organisation, and children and adults with cerebral palsy, are forever indebted to the generosity of spirit displayed by these amazing Australian women for more than 60 years.’

ATTENTION MEDIA: Volunteers with the Orange Country Council will be guests of honour at a special celebration lunch in Orange today, Friday 14 November at Eighteen 70 Restaurant. Their long-standing volunteers, as well as Cerebral Palsy Alliance President Marelle Thornton AM, will be available for photos and interviews around 1:30pm.

Media Contact: Jennifer Durante – Media Manager – (02) 9975 8758 / 0419 802 602

Released on 14 Nov 2014