End of an era for Bay service club after 41 years
AT home and in the very safe hands of Marie Eardley-Harris is a cherished table cloth from 1989 with about 30 names marked in yellow.
The names on the cloth signify all those who first started the Lioness Club of Hervey Bay in 1978, which sadly came to a close at a farewell gathering at The Clubhouse in June.
Past and present members, including Marie who was a charter member from the very beginning, gathered to reminisce on over four decades of good times, the difference they made in the community and to celebrate long-lasting friendships made.
Marie said the decision to close the club was difficult but necessary, with aging members no longer having the stamina to keep going.
Marie was 48 when she started and turned 89 this month.
Member Nola Taylor also served the Lionesses for 41 years and Elaine Hewitt and Jean Hyland both gave 31 years to the club.
"The time had come," Marie said.
"Life goes on and you get older... the brain is still there, I was always an idea's person, but the body doesn't go quite as fast as it used to.
"I felt very emotional about it. It's been a highlight of my life and I've love it.
"I used to say it's like my church; I loved the community involvement so I was always proud of being a Lioness and doing things for the community."
During the 41 years of operation, the club had 13 transferees from other clubs and 87 new additions making a total of 131 women who have helped the Lions movement.
But it wasn't always easy to join.
When the club first started on June 24, 1978, only the wives of Lions Club members were eligible.
Marie said the rules were thankfully later relaxed and other members of the community, particularly divorced or widowed ladies, were able to join.
"In those days you had to be a member of a Lion to be a Lions Lady; it was a very sad thing that if your husband died you had to leave," she said.
"And even when we became Lionesses if your husband died you had to leave.
"It wasn't until years later that people who weren't associated with Lions could become a member. It was quite a thing to be a Lioness."
The ladies achieved many great things during the club's existence, with the Hervey Bay community being the clear benefactor.
The club donated over $16,000 this year alone to local causes.
They knitted items for the Hervey Bay Hospital, contacted elderly through Telecheck every morning for 30 years, donated to Meals on Wheels, local crisis centres, rural fire brigades and the SES.
The club saved for five years ahead of the 1988 Centenary to establish stairs, gardens and a rotunda at the Pines in Point Vernon.
The ladies could be seen outside of Pialba Place Shopping Centre every Christmas at their fundraising wrapping stall, their Trash and Treasure stall at every Pier Festival and holding their annual tombola.
Marie said their crowning achievement was hosting the highly successful Designer Competition at the One Stop (now the Sporties) for over 20 years.
"It was the event of the year, which was a great dress up affair and very successful."
Marie said special thanks must go to everyone who made the Lioness Club of Hervey Bay such a great success.
"I am privileged to be the only charter member left and I would like to thank all those who served, those who helped us and the members of the public who have supported us."
Marie's next "labour of love" will be embroidering all the names on the table cloth so the club's history will be cemented for years to come.