FIFTY years is a long time to be focused on sponge cake.
Especially if you go against Country Women Association tradition and don’t enjoy making them in the first place.
“I don’t cook,” Holbrook’s Janet Kemp said simply.
“And I’m not into the handicraft. I’m into the cultural side of it.”
There’s a place for everyone in the Murray Group CWA. It turns 50 on Wednesday and is keen to stress they are not just all about the scones, jam and cream.
Although they admit they do a lot of it.
“I quite like being known for tea and scones,” Murray Group president Olivia Hanel said.
“But also it’s about the other part because we do a lot of that, too.”
The “other part” is the lobbying and fund-raising the group has done since it broke from the Riverina Group in 1963 during redistribution.
An ambulance defibrillator for Holbrook, a horse for Riding for the Disabled, a typewriter for children with a disability living at the Grange and other pieces of hospital equipment have all been purchased by the group for its community.
Table Top’s Margaret Seidel was at the Murray Group’s very first meeting at St David’s Church 50 years ago and she has been involved in planning next week’s celebration with Mrs Hanel, of Jindera, and Mrs Kemp.
The trio said the group had raised more than $50,000 for the community since it was formed and had campaigned on issues as big as the Murray Darling Basin and as local as the planned Gerogery compost facility.
“A person can jump up and down, but you can’t move as many mountains as when you have an organisation behind you,” Mrs Kemp said.
Mrs Seidel said she joined the CWA to make friends when she first moved to Gerogery.
“I knew nobody,” she said.
“But there’s no strangers when you’re part of the CWA.”
However, there has been a dramatic decline in the organisation’s membership base, with the Murray Group falling from 678 members to under 200.
“We’re pressing hard to get the younger set. Many are working through the day,” Mrs Hanel said.
She said the Albury branch of the group was considering night meetings while the NSW state president had embraced social media.
Mrs Hanel said there was growing interest in the “tea and scones” side with word of the CWA’s cooking expertise encouraging the public to hire groups as caterers.
She said the CWA would never become redundant.
“Definitely not — we embrace older members but we do want to be known for pushing is sues and attracting the younger set,” she said.
When the trio were called for a photograph, Mrs Kemp recalled a previous interview with the state president.
“All the journalist wanted us to do was hold a cake,” Mrs Kemp said.