Inspiring Upper Hunter women - Amanda Johnston, Kim Clydsdale, Lenore Taylor, Eva Towler, Linda Gant and Brenda Ogilvie - nominated for 2018 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll

SIX Upper Hunter women have been recognised for the pivotal, diverse and valuable role they play in their local communities.

Merriwa’s Kim Clydsdale, Lenore Taylor and Eva Towler, Cassilis’ Linda Gant, Gundy’s Brenda Ogilvie and Scone’s Amanda Johnston have each been nominated for the 2018 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll. 

The publication was developed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Rural Women’s Network to record and pay tribute to inspiring women and the important work they do within NSW rural, regional and remote communities.

It also celebrates the vital role volunteers play in ensuring people needing assistance receive it and that local services continue to grow.

The following stories were submitted by appreciative friends, family or colleagues.

Amanda Johnston – Scone

Amanda Johnston with her family at the 2018 Merriwa Australia Day awards ceremony.

Amanda Johnston with her family at the 2018 Merriwa Australia Day awards ceremony.

TEACHING at Merriwa Central School since 2011, Amanda has become a valuable member of the Merriwa community. In her capacity as a teacher at Merriwa she always supports community events such as Little Sprouts, Festival of the Fleeces, ROAR Petting Zoo and raising money for charities such as Heart Kids and Westpac Rescue Helicopter. Over the past year, Amanda has worked two days a week at the school but on her days off she comes back to run a breakfast club free of charge. She has planned, organised and implemented this initiative for the benefit of Merriwa students. Being an active member of the Junior League and Merriwa Touch Association she enables preschool and primary school children the opportunity to learn a sport and be a part of a team. She is Merriwa’s hidden treasure.

Kim Clydsdale – Merriwa 

Kim Clydsdale (right) at the 2018 Merriwa Australia Day awards ceremony after being nominated for an award.

Kim Clydsdale (right) at the 2018 Merriwa Australia Day awards ceremony after being nominated for an award.

KIM moved to Merriwa with her family in 2003. Shortly after settling in she joined the Merriwa P&C and became very involved in the school steer team. She also joined the planning committee for the Making Educational Goals Sustainable (MEGS) scheme, which was designed to give year six students the opportunity to experience university before making their respective career choices. Kim is very involved in the broader community as a member of the Country Women’s Association and is currently publicity officer for the Merriwa branch. The Festival of the Fleeces Committee is another cause very dear to her heart as is the Merriwa Tourism Committee of which she is an active member. Kim is never happier than when she is promoting Merriwa, which she does at the Merriwa Visitor Information Centre. She is a volunteer at the centre for some days and employed on others. She has a strong interest in the town’s local history and is often called upon by members of the community to provide information about the Merriwa district.

Linda Gant – Cassilis 

2018 Upper Hunter Shire, and Merriwa, Citizen of the Year Linda Gant and husband Ivan at the ceremony in Merriwa.

2018 Upper Hunter Shire, and Merriwa, Citizen of the Year Linda Gant and husband Ivan at the ceremony in Merriwa.

AFTER the Sir Ivan Bushfire swept through Cassilis and surrounding areas, Linda, through her volunteering work, helped coordinate the Cassilis BlazeAid Camp. BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that brought 250 volunteers to stay in Cassilis and go out each day to primarily help farmers rebuild their fences after the fires. The camp was set up in Cassilis for four months and during this time Linda coordinated the catering. This was an enormous task, organising food and local helpers each day to serve a total of 8 682 meals to 261 volunteers for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Without someone to coordinate the catering, the BlazeAid camp would not have been able to stay in the Cassilis area for such an extended period. This effort not only had a huge economic benefit for the farming community but also had a positive emotional impact.

Brenda Ogilvie – Gundy

Brenda Ogilvie raising awareness and funds for children with rare illnesses with the book ‘It’s Ok!’ in 2013.

Brenda Ogilvie raising awareness and funds for children with rare illnesses with the book ‘It’s Ok!’ in 2013.

BRENDA, known as Brazie, was born in New Zealand and made Australia home in the early 1970s. She came to work on ‘Belltrees’, a large cattle property in the Upper Hunter, near Gundy. During that time (50 years) Brenda worked with mostly horses, her first love, and cattle and was very involved with the family. She is always extremely loyal, capable and a hard working person. Brenda has been involved and a supporter of many local organisations and events, such as the Belltrees Gymkhanas, Aberdeen Pony Club camps, Gundy Bushman’s Carnivals, Moonan Campdrafts, Australian Stock Horse Shows, Scone Polo Club, and Scone and Ellerston Junior Schools. Brenda was often also a very successful competitor in these sports. Around 10 years ago, Brenda moved into the village of Gundy where she has extended her involvement in the community. She keeps the grassed areas and verges around the little village of Gundy mown and whipper snipped all year round and if neighbours are busy, she will often mow their yards as well. She maintains and waters the grounds and trees around the Gundy church, moving the hoses and watering, especially during the summer months. Brenda is extremely generous with her time and shows great compassion towards anyone going through a tough time, giving physical support often feeding animals, arriving on the doorstep with a meal to help out and to do whatever she can. I believe it could be said that many people in our community will have benefited from the kindness and thoughtfulness that Brenda quietly practices. Volunteers are all treasures but volunteers like Brenda are the backbone of the community and an absolutely priceless treasure to have in our midst.

Lenore Taylor – Merriwa

Merriwa's Lenore Taylor being presented with the prestigious Pam Power Award by former Upper Hunter Shire Council General Manager Waid Crocket and Cr Ron Campbell in 2015. Picture: Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces

Merriwa's Lenore Taylor being presented with the prestigious Pam Power Award by former Upper Hunter Shire Council General Manager Waid Crocket and Cr Ron Campbell in 2015. Picture: Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces

LENORE has given to the community of Merriwa through her enormous talents as a quilter and her passion for the Quilters Group. She uses her expertise and quilting equipment to create and donate numerous quilted items to raise funds for worthy causes. She organises the Hanging of the Quilts for the Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces every year. She has arranged and donated quilted items to Gumman Hostel, Merriwa Multi-Purpose Service and Ronald McDonald House as well as donating materials and equipment to the Quilters Group that went on to make a double bed quilt cover that was raffled for BlazeAid. Lenore has also made bags for children in developing countries at Christmas as well as many other projects to support the community and numerous charities over the years.

Eva Towler – Merriwa  

Merriwa's Eva Towler holding her wedding photo in February 2018, after celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary with partner Mick Towler.

Merriwa's Eva Towler holding her wedding photo in February 2018, after celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary with partner Mick Towler.

FOR the past 20 years Eva Towler has been the smiling face in the main street of Merriwa selling raffle tickets for the Festival of the Fleeces, Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Little Athletics, Merriwa Tennis Club, cricket, football, bushfires and the Red Cross. She can always be relied on to volunteer regardless of the weather. Eva has been president of the Lawn Bowls and Super Veterans Bowls. She is a life member of ladies golf and a long-time member of the Red Cross, Senior Citizens and Hospital Auxiliary.