From tragedy comes hope

THE SUDDEN death of a family member left Shirley Trethowan in an odd position with a great responsibility.

The award-winning volunteer lost her sister-in-law in 2000 who was part of the Wongarbon Country Women's Association (CWA).

"I looked at my family history and realised my mother was a member of the Wongarbon CWA in the early 1930s and there had been continual family membership for all those years," she said.

"I thought I can't let my family down and I better keep up the family tradition so I joined."

Not long after she was elected as president and stayed in the top role for a few years.

She then moved to be an international officer for five years and today she was the caterer's assistant.

Mrs Trethowan said there were hardly any ladies in the CWA when she joined but now many younger women were taking up membership.

Born and raised on a farm, she vividly recalled her younger years and shared her 40-year volunteer journey with the Daily Liberal.

"The whole community volunteered on sport days to raise money to improve the sporting facilities," she said.

Her first volunteer experience began with Meals and Wheels and she fondly remembered her time helping those less fortunate.

People looked forward to each visit not just for food but to keep contact with other humans, she said.

After Mrs Trethowan married she became more involved in the community thanks to her children.

The Mother's Club, Parents and Citizens Association, canteen and uniform shops were all part of the volunteering fun.

"The children took a certain pride seeing mum and dad behind them and interested in their activities at school," she said.

"Unfortunately today people are pretty time poor, the house needs to be cleaned, food cooked and it's becoming more difficult for them to have time to be involved in their children's lives."

Mrs Trethowan said the highlight of her volunteering time was helping out in the Wongarbon CWA.

Winning the cooking and handicraft competitions at state level after passing two rounds of eliminations- group and region - was a fantastic achievement.

She has also been an active volunteer member with the Dubbo and District Family History Society for more than 20 years, helping index local records and perform the role of librarian.

"It is pretty exciting when people come with family history requests and have no clue where they have died but because we're a well-resourced society we can help," she said.

Mrs Trethowan was awarded the Dubbo City Community Service Award.

Mrs Trethowan felt embarrassed and humbled as there were other volunteers who she believed were more deserving.

"Volunteering keeps you busy and healthy. You meet different people from all walks of life and that's the best part," she said.

abanob.saad@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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