Preserving the QCWA tradition

MILESTONE: Lillian Duckett cuts her celebratory 50 year membership cake at Clermont QCWA monthly meeting.
MILESTONE: Lillian Duckett cuts her celebratory 50 year membership cake at Clermont QCWA monthly meeting. Photo: QCWA

THROUGHOUT decades of travel around regional Queensland, one thing which has always remained certain in Lillian Duckett's life is her commitment to the QCWA.

This year, Mrs Duckett celebrated 50 years of continuous membership with the association.

It is a membership which has spanned five branches, within three divisions and two regions. And a membership which has incorporated countless executive roles.

"I've always had a position in QCWA, there's always been something to do which has made me feel part of a community,” she said.

"As soon as I moved to a new location I always checked which branch I could join.”

Mrs Duckett began her journey as part of the QCWA in Capella.

"Bob, my husband, and I bought land which included an operating dairy and milk-run and intensive piggery,” she said.

"Some locals, who would come to pick up milk, invited me along to my first meeting.”

"We had a busy lifestyle and our three children attended Capella State School.

"Bob and I were also involved in the school, church, Lions Club and Polocrosse Club, to name a few.”

It was from this first meeting in Capella which Mrs Duckett found a sense of belonging within the QCWA.

"The older women in the branch were always very supportive of new members and young and new families were made welcome in the district,” she said.

"I was president at Capella between 1975 and 1977, after serving as vice-president and secretary. Also during this time, I was a division vice-president and on the Hostel Committee.”

A move to Alpha in 1979 saw Mrs Duckett's dedication to the association continue for another 15 years, during which time she also covered several roles.

"I was immediately welcomed after a Capella member had informed a friend that we were coming, but I actually turned up at their next meeting, before the letter was read,” she said.

"My first role was as vice-president, then followed as treasurer, secretary and president.

"I was division vice-president, international officer for one year and press secretary and division treasurer for six years.”

Mrs Duckett said during the time she formed long-lasting friendships.

"The time seems to have flown and there was a lot of travel involved as Central Western Division covered a very large area back then,” she said.

In 1994 another move, this time to the property Rookwood meant another change of branch.

"I travelled 106km to attend meetings and social gatherings at Nebo,” Mrs Duckett said.

"It wasn't long before I was asked to take on roles in the branch and division.

"I called at the Nebo Shire office to check on meeting days and from that, received a letter in the mail inviting me along.”

Mrs Duckett said a mistaken B on her last name for a D provided some humour.

"They weren't sure if I'd be a Mrs Bucket or Bouquet,” she said in reference to the television show Keeping Up Appearances.

"Nebo always had a large membership, as members retiring to Mackay retained their membership in the branch.

"Eventually after I had left, Nebo and Sarina-Range Branches joined to form a very busy branch.”

With two more big moves yet to come, Mrs and Mr Duckett moved close to Bloomsbury where they had cattle on ex-cane land.

"From there, I went to Calen Branch for about eight years,” she said. "As before, I was soon helping out for the officers and spent five years as treasurer.

"I had just accepted a convenor's role when we moved.”

The couple's final move to the property Amatunga brought Mrs Duckett to Clermont QCWA branch.

With the property located between Capella and Clermont, she had to choose between two branches, however Clermont prevailed.

"My time here has been very busy,” she said. "It was a difficult decision whether to go to Capella or Clermont branches and I really don't know what the answer is.

"My Mum was a Clermont member for 36 years and I enjoyed the first meeting I attended so I decided to stay.”

During her time as a member, Mrs Duckett has received many accolades.

"I represented Central Western and Pioneer Divisions in the 'Country Woman of the Year' at State Conference and I have attended many conferences, region meetings, summer schools and divisional meetings, these have been some of my favourite times at QCWA,” Mrs Duckett said.

"In 1992, Alpha Branch presented me with a 'For Service' bar.

"I have also taken a great interest in the history of QCWA and Associated Country Women of the World of which we are affiliated.”

"I have collected tea-towels and spoons, books, Ruth Magazine and some old journals.”

Mrs Duckett has also shared her love of cooking. She was awarded first place in state level cookery competitions for both her three-fruit preserve and mango chutney.

This month Mrs Duckett celebrated her 50 years of QCWA membership at Clermont branch.

"Somewhere 50 years has passed and Clermont branch presented me with a 50 year badge and a beautifully iced rich fruit cake,” she said.

"We do not belong for the rewards but for the pleasure and friendships we form along the way.”

With a lifetime of involvement with QCWA, Mrs Duckett summed up her time in QCWA saying it gave her a sense of belonging and the ability to be part of a wider community.

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