Thank you St Kilda Auxiliary

Article from 2020/2021 Impact of Giving Annual Report

In 1922, almost 100 years ago, the RCH Auxiliaries were first established with the mission to support sick children. Formed by Miss Mary Guthrie, there were 10 original Auxiliary groups, tasked with the job of fundraising and providing supplies to the hospital. Just one of the original 10 still operate to this day – the St Kilda Auxiliary.

Current President, Dorothy (Dot) Cridge, first joined the Auxiliary over 25 years ago.

“When I was a young child, I spent some time in the RCH as most children did back then. My eldest brother was also a long-term patient for some time due to a polio diagnosis. Thankfully he survived and later became a doctor,” said Dot.

“I always held the RCH in very good light, and many years later I was encouraged to join the Auxiliary by one of my friends, as I had some more free time. I distinctly remember attending my first meeting at the St Kilda Town Hall where it was standing room only, and I instantly felt like part of a group.”

“While membership numbers have declined over recent years, mostly due to age, we are lucky to have current members who are so passionate about fundraising, including our Secretary/Treasurer Johanna Kane, who has served for over 40 years, Ellen Bryant who has been involved for over 30 years, Nanette Gahan, Norma Webber, Teresa Warren and Imelda Labonne.”

“A number of members, both past and present, have received recognition awards, including Long Service Awards and Living Treasure Awards and our former President and Treasurer Mavis Pope OAM received a Madge Tate Award in 1999,” said Dot.

The first official meeting of the St Kilda Auxiliary was 18 July 1922 at the home of Mrs J C Syme in Tennyson Street, St Kilda. In the first year of operation, the St Kilda Auxiliary, combined with the other nine groups, saved the hospital more than £1,914.

Over the past 99 years, the St Kilda Auxiliary has had an enormous impact within the four walls of the RCH. From the early days of making nighties for the patients, St Kilda Auxiliary have more recently sponsored beds on Butterfly and Rosella, and contributed to grants that aim to improve treatment and monitoring of patients on home respiratory support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members have stayed committed to supporting the hospital and the sick children within it through a diverse range of fundraising initiatives.

“In the early years, the ladies of the Auxiliary formed a ‘cutting and sewing’ committee. They made pillowcases, sheets, towels, children’s nighties for the hospital, and white gowns for the doctors. While the official sewing and knitting committee has long since disbanded, across the many years, Auxiliary members have continued their crafting efforts, sewing and knitting goods to sell at community stalls and RCH Market Days, which is our main form of fundraising now,” said Dot.

“When the canteen was opened in 1923, St Kilda members worked every Monday for more than 40 years. They also prepared green vegetables at the hospital during and just after World War II when labour could not cope with the work. Across the years, members have also worked in the Auxiliary Shop, the Opportunity Shop and the Kiosk, which was the original Gift Shop at the Carlton Hospital.”

“Another fundraising initiative that was picked up by St Kilda Auxiliary was the opportunity to fold Christmas cards as a fundraiser. This was first undertaken in around 25 years ago by a husband and wife team, Jack and Eileen Neaves. In that first year, over 20,000 cards were folded. This initiative continued until 2010. In the final year, an incredible 450,000 cards were folded.”

Dot has many precious memories in the time that she has been a member of the St Kilda Auxiliary. She has also developed many friendships, enjoyed a multitude of social activities, and was even awarded a Living Treasure for her dedication to the Auxiliaries.

“I will always fondly remember the Annual General Meetings, and as with all Auxiliary members, loved the tote bags and enjoyed selling them to family and friends. I also loved volunteering at the Auxiliaries Gift Shop and more recently on the Gift Shop Cart outside the RCH Gratitude Hub. Ellen and I enjoyed a chat with the customers as they inspected our goods for sale.”

As the Auxiliaries prepare to celebrate 100 years, Dot said she is looking forward to seeing what the future of the St Kilda Auxiliary holds.

“Since being involved in the Auxiliaries, I have been able to have quite a lot of contact with patients, their families and hospital staff, and across the years, I have developed such an admiration of them all. It is this admiration that drives me to continue fundraising,” said Dot.

“While there are only a few of us left in the Auxiliary, we hope to have many more years of fundraising for the hospital and seeing the continued impact the Auxiliaries have on sick children.”