Inner Wheel

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Inner Wheel is a very active group of women who perform a valuable service for our communities at a world-wide, national and local level. In Port Macquarie, Helen Crossley is the Publicity Officer for Inner Wheel Club of Port Macquarie West, District A55 Membership Officer and Cord Blood Research Coordinator. She shares some of the amazing achievements Inner Wheel has been involved with in recent times …

What is Inner Wheel … and what’s its history in the local area?

International Inner Wheel is one of the largest women’s voluntary service organisations in the world. Set up in 1924, the group now has more than 100,000 members from 103 countries across the globe. It started as a Friendship Club then, more recently, it was changed to include Service to Women and Children.

The Inner Wheel Club of Port Macquarie West was chartered on 4th October 1976, so this year we celebrate our 42nd birthday.  

Originally, to be a member of Inner Wheel you had to be related to a Rotarian (wife, mother or daughter) but the rules have been changed so that we can now invite friends outside the Rotary family to join Inner Wheel too.  

Although we still regard our connection with Rotary as very important, we have had some wonderful and inspirational members join our club since the new rule was adopted.
What are the aims of the organisation?

The objects of Inner Wheel are to promote true friendship, encourage the ideals of personal service and to foster international understanding.
Your group is very active locally and supports many terrific causes. Tell us a bit about “Topper”, the horse you sponsor at Riding for the Disabled in Wauchope  …

We have been sponsoring Topper for many years now – he is very special to us. Past President Joan Field’s previous club in Sydney was sponsoring a horse for Riding for the Disabled, and Joan put it to our club as a project.  

We have been sponsoring Topper ever since and enjoy providing morning tea and having a chat with the staff there when we present their cheque. Topper is a half Clydesdale and is wonderful with the children; they love riding him together with the other horses, with many squeals of delight. 

Our Craft Group, who meet every two weeks, have just made him a new saddle blanket in Inner Wheel Colours with his name embroidered on it.

Some of the other local organisations you’ve helped support include the special care nursery at the Base Hospital, the women’s refuge, Salvation Army, the Koala Hospital … and the list goes on! What have been some of the proud moments Inner Wheel has been able to achieve this year within the community? 

We have made up and presented approx- imately 90 “baby packs” again this year for the Special Care Nursery at the Base Hospital, together with Christmas gifts for baby and mum. It is very uplifting to hear from the baby’s mum about how appreciative they are of the lovely baby pack they receive and, on some occasions, we actually meet mum and her tiny bub – and that is so special. The baby packs contain a crocheted or knitted blanket, booties, hat, singlet, socks, jump suit, coat hanger, face washer, bibs and a toy.

Our club put a proposal to our district to raise funds for Australians for Women’s Health (A4WH) as our International Project for three years, and we were proud to present a cheque each year to our own Port Macquarie’s Dr. Ray Hodgson for his work in Nepal, where every cent donated goes to the cause and none to administration. Ray and his team are certainly an inspiration, sometimes working under very difficult circumstances.

Our national project is cord blood research, and we have raised over $2.5 million and provided 54 grants to doctors and scientists since its inception. We had an eight year old boy whose life was saved by Cord Blood at our Inner Wheel Australia Conference in 2008 and recently received the news and some great photos letting us know that this year Cooper Smeaton is now a sales cadet for Ray White Real Estate and a member of the RFS. What a wonderful young man! 

This year we held a street stall and a Royal Tea to raise funds for cord blood research, with an excellent result.

Our craft ladies, under the guidance of Judy Jhonson – Craft Coordinator – are frantically crocheting, knitting or sewing blankets especially for each child at the women’s refuge. Each child will “own” his or her blanket and, as well as keeping them warm at the refuge, they will be encouraged to take it with them, so that they will have something which belongs only to them.
Why do you feel the work you do is so important?

We are “women in action”, working together to make a difference and improve lives. Lifelong friendships are made while raising funds. It is lots of fun while, at the same time, helping the community.
What are some events you have planned for this year?

We will host the Women in Service Luncheon, Biggest Morning Tea (Cuppa for Cancer), High Tea, garage sale, two craft stalls, Inner Wheel International Friendship Day, and Rotary’s Hat Day for Mental Health.
Why would you encourage others to become involved with Inner Wheel?

If ladies are looking to have fun, attend dinner meetings once per month to hear interesting guest speakers, have fortnightly craft and friendship get-togethers, and take part in service and fundraising to assist our community, as well as international and national projects, then we are looking for you. Ladies who are interested in joining are invited to attend three dinner meetings and craft days to see if it is what they are looking for. You will be made to feel most welcome.
How can readers find out more info?

Your readers can contact our Secretary, Margot Lee on 0410 598 033 or or President Kathy Naylor on 6582 5430 or

Thanks Helen.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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