The Mid North Coast Local Health District, Bellingen Health Campus and the Bellingen Hospital & Pink Auxiliary will celebrate an important milestone this month – the auxiliary’s 80th birthday.
Eight decades of community service on behalf of the patients and staff at Bellinger River District Hospital started on 10 May 1938 when 36 women from the Bellinger Valley formed the Bellingen Hospital Auxiliary.
The group’s current President Deb Anderson said that in the early days, the volunteers carried out all the sewing required by the hospital.
“They sewed sheets, pillow cases, curtains, aprons, capes as well as mending whatever needed to be mended,” Mrs Anderson said.
“They embroidered the initials of the hospital on tapes which they stitched onto items needing to be kept track of.
“Sewing machines were eventually purchased, but they continued to carry out a substantial amount of hand sewing.
“Sewing afternoons provided an opportunity to socialise, as well as to mend and stitch,” Mrs Anderson said.
The volunteers also hosted an annual ball as well as a fete to raise funds for their local hospital.
The women formed The Pink Ladies Association on 10 December 1980 with the purpose of providing a non-professional service to add to the comfort and welfare of patients and assist visitors, and so began The Pink Ladies’ street stalls and raffles in a bid to continue the fundraising effort on behalf of the hospital and its patients.
“In July 1995 the two groups joined to become the Bellingen Hospital & Pink Auxiliary we know today and the fundraising continues,” Mrs Anderson said.
“Our volunteers continue to work hard to improve the comfort and welfare of patients.”
The hospital’s Acting Executive Officer/Director of Nursing, Janelle Goodall, said the list of those who had served the Auxiliary and the hospital was very long, and included many well-known founding families in the valley.
“It’s a great pity that we can’t mention and honour them all,” Ms Goodall said.
“However, the tradition continues and we can’t begin to thank the volunteers of yesteryear and today for all that they did and continue to do for our wonderful hospital and its patients.”
“They have donated countless tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment to the hospital over the decades… every piece greatly appreciated by our staff and patients.
“Our hospital wouldn’t be the same without our volunteers and so, on the Auxiliary’s 80th birthday, we again say thanks for a very long and proud tradition this community has in support of its hospital.”
Over the years, the Auxiliary has also provided Christmas gifts for patients, placed wreaths on the cenotaph for Anzac Day, supported the Agricultural Show with floral arrangements, as well as holding its popular street stalls and raffles.
The Auxiliary will hold its 80th birthday celebration at the Anglican Church in Bellingen between 9.30am and 2pm on Saturday 26 May. The community is invited to attend and enjoy the entertainment, stalls, raffles, sausage sizzle, rug-making demonstrations, spinning, weaving, card-making and much more.