$72k windfall for charities
By EMMA CORNFORD
IT TOOK searching through solicitors' offices, rummaging through records and sleuthing in Sydney to prove the Older People's Welfare Council owned Pioneer Hall in Kemp Street, Grafton.
With their ownership confirmed and the hall sold, fast forward to yesterday morning at the Grafton Bowling Club where the group donated more than $36,000 each to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Grafton Community Bus.
President of the council, Gwen Fuller, said members voted to decide which charities would receive funds raised from the sale of the building.
"We knew the money had to go to charities. At one stage we were going to spread it amongst a few, but we thought giving more to fewer charities would mean they could do more with it," she said.
"We held a meeting and we thought that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter is something the members would potentially use and the community bus does a great job helping the older people get around town in the bus, so we thought they were the two best options."
Both organisations will receive $36,447.03 each, while the remaining money in the bank will be divided between the Red Rock/Corindi, Wooli and Yamba surf clubs, giving them around $1200 each.
In past years the Welfare Council was extremely popular, but a decline in numbers and rocketing insurance premiums meant the social group was no longer viable.
"Years ago we used to have a lot going on ... but more recently we'd just have one game of hoy a month, but we had to pay $1000 insurance a year which was just too much."
Mrs Fuller said the Pioneer Hall site was the bowling clubhouse before it was purchased by the Older People's Welfare Council. But when they decided to sell up it was discovered the deeds had been misplaced, which led members Alma Duffus, George Brooker and Ralph Swanson on a five-month hunt to prove the hall belonged to the group.
Chairman of the North Coast Westpac Rescue Helicopter service Warren Tozer said the donation would make a big difference to the organisation.
"My initial reaction when we got the call was one of excitement because it's rare that we get a donation of that size."
Grafton Community Bus Coordinator Eric Lynn agreed.
"We're in the middle of fundraising for a new bus so this is certainly a great kick- start," he said.