‘Backbone of brigade’

WHAT was once the biggest ladies’ auxiliary in the district is down to just five members, but they refuse to quit.

MEMORIES: Irymple Fire Brigade Ladies’ Auxiliary members Dot Kerr, Dulcie Neyland, secretary Janet ‘Jean’ Allen, president Maureen Holness and Gwen Mathews. Picture: Carmel Zaccone

MEMORIES: Irymple Fire Brigade Ladies’ Auxiliary members Dot Kerr, Dulcie Neyland, secretary Janet ‘Jean’ Allen, president Maureen Holness and Gwen Mathews. Picture: Carmel Zaccone

It has been 55 years since the inaugural meeting of the Irymple Fire Brigade­ Ladies’ Auxiliary.

Now, the group has an average age of about 75.

They admit they’ve slowed down in recent years, but they’re still hosting functions and contributing to fundraisers across the community.

“We’ll keep it going until we drop,” life member Gwen Mathews said.

In September, she received a 45-year service badge.

As the year comes to a close, the group this week held its final meeting until February.

“We’ve been the backbone of the brigade, really,” Mrs Mathews said. “It’s friendship that’s kept us going. 

“We’re like one big family.”

The auxiliary women were the wives of brigade members.

They saw it as their duty to support the work their husbands did across the region.

Over the years, they’ve baked everything from sweets to hot dogs, with toffee apples a memorable experience.

A fit of laughter overcame the group when someone mentioned a former group member who drove from her home with a plate of cakes on the bonnet of her car, only to think she’d left them at home and return to retrieve them.

But as kind as they were, these ladies­ were no pushovers.

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