SOCIALISING: Shirley Erhardt, Victoria Hill QCWA, with Mary Hamblin, Leyburn, at the Border Division lunch.
SOCIALISING: Shirley Erhardt, Victoria Hill QCWA, with Mary Hamblin, Leyburn, at the Border Division lunch.

CWA saved me from loneliness

IN A quiet candid moment after she accepted the Border Division QCWA's arguably highest honour, Sonya Carr explained it was loneliness, which brought her here.

The Killarney local was last week sashed the 2013 Border Division Countrywoman of the Year at an annual lunch, which attracted more than 80 members from across the Southern Downs.

For Ms Carr, the representative honour was a title she was flattered to accept.

The association's focus has always been improving the situation for women and children and, for me, they did that in such an important way. I was so lonely and they were so there for me.

UP FROM THE SOUTH: Dot Stewart, Libby Gunderman and Helen Coffey, from Stanthorpe, at the Border Division lunch.
UP FROM THE SOUTH: Dot Stewart, Libby Gunderman and Helen Coffey, from Stanthorpe, at the Border Division lunch.
CATCH UP: Shirley Owens and Marcia Hughes catch up at the annual lunch.
CATCH UP: Shirley Owens and Marcia Hughes catch up at the annual lunch.
SUPPORTERS: Millie Marsden and Penny Campbell-Wilson both have a long involvement with the QCWA.
SUPPORTERS: Millie Marsden and Penny Campbell-Wilson both have a long involvement with the QCWA.

 

She said going onto represent the Warwick region at state level was one way she could give back to an organisation which played such a valuable part in her life.

Her mother Helga Siebert was a well-known member of the Condamine Valley-Warwick branch, as Ms Carr was growing up, but it wasn't until 1994 she became a member herself.

"Back in 1994 we had moved to Tasmania and I was married with a young family, but I didn't know anybody and, yes, it was very lonely," Ms Carr admitted.

"My mum came down to visit and suggested we call into the Scotsdale CWA and that's where it all started for me.

"My mum had been a CWA member for 25 years and she really understood the value of the association.

"At Scotsdale they were so welcoming and so friendly and joining them made such a difference to my life at the time."

Even when she shifted back to Queensland's Darling Downs, she retained the connection: First joining the Southbrook QCWA then the branch at Middle Ridge.

"Wherever I went, the CWA were openly welcoming members," Ms Carr said.

"They worked hard to make sure new people felt involved and connected and for me that was invaluable.

"Sure, some people looking in from the outside think of the CWA and think it's a lot of tea and scones.

"And yes there is that too.

"There is this lovely passing on of recipes and sharing of food and taking the time to talk.

"But there is also this very strong connection between women who support and care for each other.

"The association's focus has always been improving the situation for women and children and, for me, they did that in such an important way.

"I was so lonely and they were so there for me."

Ms Carr has now become an outspoken advocate for the QCWA's local membership drive.

While she said Border Division branches could definitely do with younger members, who bring new ideas and fresh perspective, she would also like to see women of all ages consider membership.

"I know what it is like to be lonely and feel isolated and I think there are a lot of people in our community that can relate to those feelings," Ms Carr said.

"So I want part of my role this year to be about encouraging those women to be brave and take a step towards changing their own situations.

"You don't have to be lonely.

"There are organisations, like ours, who would really welcome your involvement."

On a personal level she credits fellow Killarney member Rosemary Petersen and 2012 Border Division Countrywoman of the Year with prompting her to enter the countrywoman quest.

"Rosemary made me believe I could do it," she laughed.

Ms Carr will represent the Border Division at the 2013 Queensland Countrywoman of the Year Finals in Bundaberg in October.

LUNCH BREAK: Jan Carlson, Diane Walsh and Bernice Ragh, from Killarney QCWA, enjoy the Border Division get together.
LUNCH BREAK: Jan Carlson, Diane Walsh and Bernice Ragh, from Killarney QCWA, enjoy the Border Division get together.


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