Community, friendship and a foolproof cake recipe

Gloucester's Christine Bolton is a proud, active, long-serving member of the Country Women's Association. Photo Anne Keen
Gloucester's Christine Bolton is a proud, active, long-serving member of the Country Women's Association. Photo Anne Keen

When Gloucester's Christine Bolton joined the Country Women's Association (CWA) at 19 years of age, little did she know she'd be hooked for life.

She's been an active member for more than 60 years. "I don't see an end," Christine smiled when asked if she'd ever leave the organisation. For her, Gloucester CWA Evening Branch is just part of who she is.

"You sometimes wonder (why you continue). If you look at your diary over the last 10 years - it's the same thing. You see how many raffle tickets you've sold or how much you've cooked for the street stalls," she laughed.

But all kidding aside, Christine is passionate about the group, what it stands for and the women she has gotten to know over the years.

She first got involved with the CWA when she joined the Younger Set group - which was designed for mainly single, working women aged between 18 and 25 years. It was just after she'd completed a business course in Taree and she'd started working as a bookkeeper in Gloucester.

"It was just common practice. All the girls got involved. We organised social events like St Valentine's Day and garden parties. We arranged our own entertainment - for the young people on town," she explained.

The Younger Set started up in 1950, but Christine didn't get involved until 1959. At that stage, the group was all about attracting younger people with the idea of them transferring over the the main branch when they were married and had a family.

But things didn't end up that way.

Instead, the Younger Set group stuck together as they transitioned into married life, and the group disbanded 1971, reforming as the Evening Branch - which remains to this day.

A newspaper clipping from The Land, May 14, 2009 with Christine pictured on the left wearing a vest she modelled made by a fellow branch member.

A newspaper clipping from The Land, May 14, 2009 with Christine pictured on the left wearing a vest she modelled made by a fellow branch member.

The group has been responsible for many community initiatives like starting up Meals on Wheels and setting up mother's health centre, with Christine either at the helm or on the committee.

"I've almost always been an office bearer. I've been the president, treasurer, secretary - I've been in most position. I was also the (Mid North Coast) group treasurer for three years and the group agricultural and environment officer for three years," Christine said.

"I like to be involved. I like the planning and organising and keeping the branch active."

She also enjoys attending the annual State conference, where she can hear about what all the other branches are doing.

It's where she gets new ideas and can see CWA's impact on the country's politics.

"We were always told we had a voice," she said.

There's also a social side that Christine really likes.

She's even taken part in a fashion show, modeling clothes made by a fellow branch member.

According to Christine, the core values of the CWA haven't changed since she joined.

It's still community-focussed and about supporting the schools, country women's health and raising money to help with State disasters.

"I love my community. I think it's what you do (helping)."

The group is also about learning skills - something that Christine has cherished over the years.

"I've learned a lot from the CWA - cooking and handicraft," she said.

"I saw a rug in a magazine once that I really liked. It was tricot and I didn't know how to tricot, so I learned from another member. Then I was able to make the rug.

"I've learned hints about cooking. I've learned about other cultures. I learned about different types of primary industries.

"You can learn as much as you want," she smiled.

Jess Burley, Judy Hopkins, Christine Bolton and Dorothy Kirk were the longest serving members when Gloucester CWA celebrated its 90th birthday in 2019. Photo supplied

Jess Burley, Judy Hopkins, Christine Bolton and Dorothy Kirk were the longest serving members when Gloucester CWA celebrated its 90th birthday in 2019. Photo supplied

But mostly importantly for Christine, it's about friendship.

There are still about half a dozen members from her original group still actively involved.

And what story about a CWA member would be complete without talking about baking.

Christine is quite modest when it comes to her abilities in this area but she did confess that her go-to is a plain butter cake.

"It's easy to remember. It's two, four, six, eight," she laughed. "That's two eggs, four ounces butter, six ounces sugar, eight ounces self-raising flour and a half a cup of milk."

Christine said the recipe is very versatile and can be made into orange or chocolate, or even patty cakes.

"I've won prizes for my orange and butter cake," she finally admitted.