After 12 years at the helm of Kempsey United Hospital Auxiliary (UHA), Aileen Lewthwaite has stepped down as president.
There was unanimous applause for the 85-year-old at the branch's annual general meeting, along with words of sincere thanks from Kempsey District Hospital Deputy Director of Nursing and Midwifery Katie Croad and the UHA's North East Regional Representative Dee Hunter.
While COVID-19 had dictated the branch's limited fundraising opportunities during the past 12 months, Mrs Lewthwaite said the UHA still managed to donate almost $9000 worth of pressure mattresses to the hospital.
"My turn has come (to retire), and so I would like to thank everyone who supported me over the past 12 years," Mrs Lewthwaite said.
"I would particularly like to thank Ruth Woodward and Pat Major for their support on the executive committee, the hospital staff and our patron Betty Green."
The branch's new President, Maxine Walker, congratulated Mrs Lewthwaite on her "wonderful achievements" over the past 12 years.
"I have big shoes to fill," Mrs Walker said.
The new president will be assisted by Treasurer Pat Major, Secretary Suzanne Wells and Vice-president Colleen Waterson.
Patron Betty Green vowed to continue to support the branch and invited the Macleay community to get behind the volunteers who support the hospital through patient visits and fundraising for equipment.
The former nurse and midwife, former Director of Nursing at KDH and former Kempsey Shire Mayor said community support for Kempsey's hospital had been evident right from the start - 1836.
"We've always had a group of ladies, the forerunners of the auxiliary, who have raised funds for the hospital to provide equipment and patient comfort items," Ms Green said.
"Back in the day, they would door knock throughout the valley, quite a feat when you consider they did it on horseback or horse and dray.
"Things change, and we need to change as well to keep in front of the community as a fundraising organisation.
"In the past, the Auxiliary activities were by the ladies of the community. Now, there are more men with time on their hands who we would welcome as members to assist with patient support and fundraising.
"We need Pink ladies and men on the wards, we need to build on past initiatives, on ways to raise funds and attract people of all ages. We need to remind the people of the Macleay we are still here, supporting our local public hospital."
Anyone wanting to help the UHA continue its important work at Kempsey District Hospital is invited to contact Sharon Fuller from the Mid North Coast Local Health District on 0417 982 167 or email Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org
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