100 YEARS OF HUMANITARIAN SERVICE: A rose is planted to commemorate the centenary of the Alstonville Red Cross, with (from left) president Colleen Schulze, Red Cross director of international operations Michael Raper, Member for Ballina Don Page, and John Sim from the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society.
100 YEARS OF HUMANITARIAN SERVICE: A rose is planted to commemorate the centenary of the Alstonville Red Cross, with (from left) president Colleen Schulze, Red Cross director of international operations Michael Raper, Member for Ballina Don Page, and John Sim from the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society.

Alstonville Red Cross marks a century of helping others

FOUNDED in the shadows of the humanitarian disaster of the First World War, the Alstonville Red Cross branch celebrated a centenary of continuous service on Saturday.

A book, written by John Sim from the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society and documenting the branch's proud history was launched to mark the occasion.

Also on hand to speak about the exceptional achievements of the branch was Sydney-based Red Cross director of services and international operations, Michael Raper.

Mr Raper's grandmother was the first president of the Alstonville Red Cross.

He paid tribute to the branch's "amazing record of voluntary service", helping refugees from the frontlines of the First World War to today's devastating Ebola virus outbreak in Africa.

The branch was founded just a few days after the formal inauguration of the Australian Red Cross in Melbourne by the then Governor-General's wife Lady Munro-Ferguson.

With the sense of urgency "infectious", within days a meeting of the fledgling Alstonville branch had been convened and reported on by The Northern Star on Friday, August 21, 1914.

The branch raised an astonishing 300 pounds in its first year (then a massive sum for a small country town) and went from strength to strength.

Unlike other branches in the region, Alstonville never ceased to operate in the interwar or post-war years.

Today the branch holds regular barbecues at the Ballina Bunnings and Alstonville farmers' markets, and helps put on the annual Alstonville Craft Fair, as well as plenty of raffles.

"We just sent $600 on Friday to help with the Ebola virus," branch president Colleen Schulze said.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement has always targeted the most urgent humanitarian needs, both global and local, from supporting Aboriginal communities to working in war-torn regions of the globe.

An exhibition to commemorate the centenary with a collection of memorabilia will be on display at Crawford House, Alstonville, until mid-September.


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