By Bonny Burrows
As the daughter and wife of army personnel, Pauline Hetherton knows all too well the importance of Legacy Australia.
Ms Hetherton appreciates the work that the organisation does so much that she has been an RSL member since 1987 and a women’s auxiliary member since 2003.
Reflecting on her involvement following the awarding of a Life Membership of the RSL Women’s Auxiliary Victorian Branch at a Berwick RSL breakfast on 1 December, Ms Hetherton recalled her first encounter with the support service Legacy at the age of 13 following the death of her father.
Legacy provides services to Australian families suffering financially and socially after the death of their veteran spouse or parent.
“Legacy visited shortly after my father’s death. My mother was embarrassed to tell the man she had a fridge on hire purchase, and was paying it off. Legacy was there to help,” Ms Hetherton said.
Ms Hetherton sees her volunteer work as a way to give back to the charity that was there for her family.
She, along with the small group of volunteers, fund-raise throughout the year, selling poppies and tokens.
“I am just there taking up the reins of the women before me,” Ms Hetherton said.
The Berwick RSL faces unique fund-raising challenges due to its small size of about 250 members and a lack of restaurant and gaming facilities.
However, Ms Hetherton said this created a “very homely environment”.
“We don’t have poker machines, we have conversations,” Ms Hetherton said.
“We’re one of the smallest RSLs in the state. But when it comes to poppies and tokens, we bat way above our weight.”
Despite the life membership, Ms Hetherton said she had no intention of stepping back from her volunteer work.
In fact, she said she was looking forward to celebrating the auxiliary’s centenary in 2019.
“I’m very proud to be a member of the RSL and will continue to work for my father and husband,” she said.