Across the River | Geoff Goodfellow

AN ERA ENDS: The remaining Quota ladies- Pat Fulton, Beryl Moore, Kathleen Browne, Kathleen Haynes, Julie-Rose Moffatt, Elaine Swinfield. Photo by Geoff Goodfellow
AN ERA ENDS: The remaining Quota ladies- Pat Fulton, Beryl Moore, Kathleen Browne, Kathleen Haynes, Julie-Rose Moffatt, Elaine Swinfield. Photo by Geoff Goodfellow

The Moss Vale Quota ladies called it quits last week after doing outstanding voluntary community service on the Southern Highlands for the past 62 years.

Sadly only six ladies are left and they can’t find others interested in being part of a local service club that has achieved so much since it was formed at Dormie House in 1955.

That was the year Toparoa won the Melbourne Cup, Souths beat Newtown 12-11 in the rugby league grand final, Bob Menzies was prime minister and a lady called Beryl beat another called Thelma to win the Australian women’s tennis title.

Beryl and Thelma, eh! Not many of them on the international tennis circuit these days are there?

But Beryl and Thelma wouldn’t have been out of place when you look at the Quota membership lists over the years, with names like Eileen, Nancy, June, Audrey, Una , Doris, Gwen, Jean, Nell, Peg, Hazel and Zelda.

Not names they call little girls (or tennis champions) often these days, are they?

Quota’s fundraising efforts have been amazing and so have been the many varied ways they managed to extract money from community spirited locals supporting a good cause.

They knitted, cooked, ran an opportunity shop, lamington and pie drives, luncheons, sold raffles, organised progressive dinners, mad hatter’s parties, car rallies, barbecues, hairdressing displays, wine tastings, music evenings, worked at Brigadoon, sold tea towels, held stalls, organised art and craft exhibitions, ran a golf day and more.

But I reckon their most ingenious trick was to build a wishing well in Leighton Gardens then encouraged visitors to toss in a coin and make a wish.

How clever is that? Maybe not the Trevi Fountain, but still a good earner.

Beryl Moore, who has been a member for the past 36 years, and one of the last six left standing when the lights were turned out, well remembers sitting outside the Moss Vale newsagency selling raffle tickets or cakes for three decades on cold Highlands winter days.

Actually, the Quota ladies were selling raffle tickets one day when Dudley came along.

“What’s it for?” asked Dudley.

“The poor young widow with the 13 kids who lives up in Argyle Street.”

“Sorry dear, but, I’ll pass,” said Dudley. “If I won, I’d never be able to afford to feed the 13 kids.”

Quota was the first international service organisation formed specifically for women.

Their initial focus was on helping people with hearing and speech problems, as well as looking after disadvantaged women and children, like that young lady in Argyle Street with 13 kids.

But this hasn’t stopped the Moss Vale Quota ladies from supporting many other causes as well.

Like the special needs program at Moss Vale Primary School which provides early intervention and a lot of help to local kids from throughout the shire.

For years they have run the Quota Student of the Year Quest, a public speaking competition among local high schools.

There have been projects with Bowral Hospital, Challenge Southern Highlands, work with the Parkinson’s Support Group and CanAssist, a volunteer helping rural cancer patients.

One of their first projects in 1955 was to buy a humidicrib for the Wingecarribee Community hospital in Moss Vale. That humidicrib was the first of its kind to be installed in a NSW hospital.

Quota has donated things to the local ambulance service, Harbison Homes, the scouts, guides, Donkin pre-school and Moss Vale pool.  

They set up a scholarship for girls at Moss Vale High School, made donations to Tangara school, Toybox, Camp Quality and many other local community groups. The list is seemingly endless.

The ladies asked me to sincerely thank the people of the Southern Highlands for supporting them these past 62 years, but I think it should be us thanking them for the fantastic public service they have selflessly given to help others.

Good on you girls.