After 74 years of service The Wheeo and District Red Cross Branch is closed

As the curtain falls on the Wheeo and District Red Cross Branch, Ann Turner has the mammoth task to file finances and sift through boxes of treasured memories. 

"It's the other people who've done all the work," said Mrs Turner, a member for the past five years.

The good old days: Red Cross members share their stories (L-R) Ann Turner, Beryl Collins, Iris Waters, Pam Kelly and Sally and Ian Hutchings. Photo: Clare McCabe

The good old days: Red Cross members share their stories (L-R) Ann Turner, Beryl Collins, Iris Waters, Pam Kelly and Sally and Ian Hutchings. Photo: Clare McCabe

"Iris [Waters] has been a member since she was knee high to a grasshopper.

"Then with them living so far out of town after she got married and couldn't make meetings, it used to come across a wire."

"Beryl Collins has been in it since 1954.

“John [Culley] since 1944 - They were the instigators of the whole thing because all of the people were at war," she said.

The Branch began on May 27, 1944 and by the end of the first year there was 73 members.

In the early days, they sent packages to soldiers serving in New Guinea, that included hand-made knitted items to keep warm as the night time temperature plummeted in the tropical climate. 

Young Red Cross ladies at Crookwell Public School photographed in the early 40's.

Young Red Cross ladies at Crookwell Public School photographed in the early 40's.

There were also Anzac biscuits, sweets with gelatin and sugar, bandages, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and buttons for their trousers because the army only supplied the buttons for their coats.

Three of the current members fathers were a part of the original group; Jack Collins then Vice President is the father of Claude and Ellis Collins, and Alf Culley is the father John Culley.

The first meeting was held at Alf and Francis Culley's homestead, Woodbine Park in Wheeo.

Fundraising dances, and euchre nights were also held at Woodbine Park, which could hold more than 40 people.

Other venues included Woolamin, and the Grabben Gullen Community Hall.

At the Hall chocolate foil wrappers were used as passes to come and go, and if a pass was lost the entry fee would have to be paid twice.

A lifetime of memories for the local Red Cross Branch members. Photo: Clare McCabe

A lifetime of memories for the local Red Cross Branch members. Photo: Clare McCabe

The dances were a social event with many a romance kindled, said Mrs Turner.

If there was a good moon it would mean better attendance as most travelled by horse, or horse and buggy.

In 1946, Jack and Vida Collins welcomed the soldiers home at a celebration at Woolamin homestead.

Over the years other fundraisers were introduced, including the familiar street stalls, they began in 1962.

Harry and Pansy Price opened their home Hollymount in Bevandale for functions, and Christmas dinners.

The clearance sales held between 1977 to 1998 were good money spinners, said Mrs Turner.

In 1986, a very successful fashion parade was held at the Crookwell RSL that raised over $600. 

Good old days: Members of the Red Cross (L-R) Ann Turner, Beryl Collins, Iris Waters, Pam Kelly and Sally Hutchings. Photo: Lucy Opie.

Good old days: Members of the Red Cross (L-R) Ann Turner, Beryl Collins, Iris Waters, Pam Kelly and Sally Hutchings. Photo: Lucy Opie.

More recently, Coralie Anthoney kept the branch going for eleven years taking on the role of president, secretary and treasure at the same time. 

The memorabilia will go to the local historical society, and the minutes books will go to the head office, and eventually end up in the State library said Ms Turner.

  • As remembered by members J Culley, C Collins, I Waters, P Reeves, C Anthoney, E Collins.