Seven decades with CWA

CWA member Joan Medwin and state president Pam Mawson pose for a photo to honour Joan's 70 years with the organisation.

By Shelby Brooks

‘To have a friend is to be a friend’ is the adage Upper Beaconsfield’s Joan Medwin has lived her life by.

Joan feels she has learnt the importance of kindness, friendship and helping others in the 70 years she has been a member of the Country Women’s Association (CWA).

The strong values and morals the association stands by is what Joan credits as the reason for her long service, which began when she was just 15 years old.

“They are contrary to the way society can be today,” Joan said.

“They are morals and values I grew up with and I abide by still.”

Joan has been celebrated for achieving 70 years’ service with the CWA with a morning tea by past and present CWA members.

Although initially there were “tears and embarrassment”, Joan said she appreciates the efforts of her fellow CWA members for the honour.

“I appreciate everyone coming to show me you love me, you respect me and that you’re honouring my 70 years,“ Joan said.

“They have come one day at a time and I’ve been blessed. Even though I’m this age, 70 years doesn’t feel that long with the CWA.

“It’s been a pleasure, there’s been some tough times and good times but throughout it all we’ve come through and it’s been absolutely lovely. I encourage everyone who is not part of the CWA to join.“

Joan began her journey with the CWA as a “young and reluctant” 15 year old as part of the Younger Set in Officer.

In a speech read by state president Pam Mawson, it was said Joan’s mum was a very active member and wanted the same opportunities for Joan.

It was the beginning of what has been an amazing dedication of time, energy and talents to the now 70 years of continued membership and service to CWA.

Within the first year of the newly formed Younger Set in Officer, at aged 16 Joan was already showing her leadership qualities and was the president of the new branch.

After marrying and moving to Upper Beaconsfield, Joan still travelled to Officer for meetings.

In talking with her new friends in the local area and gaining support and confidence, it as soon decided to form a new branch of Younger Set in the town of Upper Beaconsfield.

In 1966, when all Younger Setters became full CWA members, the name Woorinyan was chosen for the branch and this means happy meeting place.

Helping people has also been a driver in Joan’s 70 years with the association- a significant part of Joan’s service with the Woorinyan CWA was during the Ash Wednesday bushfires.

The CWA members ran a drop in and relief centre from the Monday after the fires until the end of August.

“I just feel that was one special experience of CWA togetherness and willingness to help that I will never forget,“ Joan said.

“Help has been so graciously and so genereously given by the wonderful women in CWA.“

The CWA name was often catch phrased to ’Chin Wagers Association’ and Joan was known for her late night or early morning home comings.

Some of Joan’s fondest memories with the CWA were moonlight hikes between Upper Beaconsfield and South Belgrave.

“We had a lot of fun when we were younger,” she said.

“We did the hikes four or five times a year and would undo all the good the walking did by having tea and crumpets afterwards.”

Throughout the ensuing years, Joan held the office of president, vice president, flower secretary, branch secretary and branch catering convener many times over and in 1978 she was recognised by her peers and was awarded and presented with a CWA life membership.