POURING over 80 years of combined service and raising well in excess of $70,000, Joy Axleby and Kathy Golder have made significant contributions to the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB).
Both Limestone Coast women were recently recognised for 42 years of volunteer service as key members of the Mount Gambier and Districts Club for the Visually Impaired.
The club has been instrumental in raising tens of thousands of dollars for the society through the sale of handmade arts and crafts, as well as RSB badge days and merchandise sales.
At its peak the club had an estimated 60-plus members but numbers have declined over the years, with a committed group of six women still fundraising to support visually-impaired residents across the region.
Members recently used $1000 raised over the festive season to purchase glasses to help a young boy with a significant impairment, as well as a talking watch, which was gifted to a woman.
Ms Axelby and Ms Golder reflected on their four decades of service last month when awarded a certificate of appreciation from the RSB.
Ms Golder recalled how to group was originally formed in support of a visually-impaired resident, with membership surging in the first 12 months.
“The elderly ladies would come together and used to knit squares,” Ms Golder said.
Ms Axelby’s original invitation to the group was to assist the men’s card games, developing an interest in the craft aspect and eventually taking over the key fundraising effort.
In addition to raising money and awareness, the group also support visually-impaired residents through a number of initiatives to improve their quality of life.
Among the measures was the Talking Newspaper initiative, supported by Grant High School students, who would record themselves reading The Border Watch on tape in the pre-digital era, which was passed on to residents.
Ms Golder said a lot of support focused on youth in the current day, with the club purchasing several iPads and other digital devices – considered ‘gamechangers’ for education, recreation and communication.
“To see the look on the children when they come to get it (a device), even the older ones, there is just such excitement,” Ms Axelby added.
RSB executive director Damian Papps praised both women for their outstanding contribution – as well as that of their peers – in supporting the Limestone Coast’s blind and vision impaired community over many years.
“Selfless service such as theirs is both humbling and inspiring, and on behalf of the entire team at RSB we extend our sincere thanks to both Joy and Kathy for their work over four decades which has assisted us in serving the blind and vison impaired community,” Mr Papps said.
The Mount Gambier and Districts Club for the Visually Impaired meets Wednesdays at 9am at the former cycling club hall behind the Vansittart Park grandstand.
Members will also hold two fundraising stalls at Mount Gambier Marketplace on April 30 and May 7.