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Women of Queanbeyan calendar launch strips all expectations

Michael Weaver 21 August 2019

At the launch of the Women of Queanbeyan calendar on Saturday night are, from left, Ashlee Coombe, Rocky Burnell, Pauline Leake and Gillian Southwell. Photo: Supplied.

“You can’t call Queanbeyan ‘Struggletown’ anymore,” says a jubilant Gillian Southwell after the Women of Queanbeyan calendar launch at Queanbeyan’s Bicentennial Function Centre on Saturday night.

The event will be remembered as one of the social events of the year after raising $86,350 in one night, with organisers very confident of raising well over $110,000 for Rise Above Capital Region Cancer Relief once all the calendars are sold.

“Pauline (co-organiser Pauline Leake) and I are still on cloud nine,” Gillian told Region Media.

“It was all just one big fantastic experience and it really shows the true beauty of Queanbeyan. How dare they call us Struggletown!

“We’ve already exceeded our expectations and we’ve still got plenty of calendars to sell, so we will raise well over $100,000.”

The Women of Queanbeyan calendar shows a diverse range of ordinary women doing something extraordinary. It is the brainchild of Gillian Southwell and Pauline Leake, who have spent the past 10 months preparing the calendar for publication.

It is also dedicated to their friend Yvonne Cuschieri OAM, who foundered Rise Above in 1985.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro said it was fantastic to see the incredible support from the Queanbeyan community.

“We live in a very compassionate region and this was truly highlighted on Saturday night,” he said.

“I congratulate Gillian and Pauline, along with the many other volunteers who assisted in making this calendar a reality.”

The committee auctioned an enlarged print of each photo included in the calendar, along with calendar one of 3000 which was signed by all of the 77 women involved.

The signed calendar, bought by Bruce and Jenny Amy, went for $1800, while a further $3010 was raised from one of the framed photos, bought by the family of Gillian Southwell.

Organisers had to change venues twice from the Hotel Queanbeyan and then the Queanbeyan Kangaroos Club before settling on the Queanbeyan Bicentennial Function Centre after numbers grew so quickly.

“We had well over 500 people there on the night,” said Gillian.

Queanbeyan born and bred calendar girl Franca Jones is pictured with two of her school friends in the month of May and said it was an amazing feeling to be part of the event.

“I was blown away by the number of people who were here and blown away by how much the auctions raised,” Franca said. “There were big bucks right from the beginning and it was just amazing to see the Queanbeyan and Canberra communities contribute right through to the end of the night.”

CEO of Rise Above Capital Region Cancer Relief, Melissa Gardiner, said the organisation needs about $600,000 a year to look after cancer patients, so the money raised from the calendar will make a massive difference.

While the organisation has a few loyal sponsors, Melissa said it would take the equivalent of at least five functions to raise $100,000.

“Our Think Pink quiz night raised $22,000 and there’s only three of us in the office, so for us, what they’ve done with the calendar is massive.

“We give $2500 per patient, so that’s another 40-50 people who are going to get help with medications, dietary supplements, food and fuel vouchers, electricity, gas and of course, chemotherapy because they have raised this money,” Melissa said.

“Queanbeyan has a big heart and they really do stand together for a cause. A huge thank you to the Queanbeyan community for coming together for us, and to everyone involved in the calendar, thank you.

“All those ladies that did the photos and got their clothes off. That’s a big deal.”

Gillian Southwell said they will set themselves up around town to sell the remaining calendars and won’t stop until the last one is sold.

They can be purchased for $20 by sending a message through the Women of Queanbeyan event page on Facebook.

“It’s not over until we’ve sold the last calendar and we’re very confident that will happen,” said Gillian.

Thank you to Rosevear Photography for sharing the images below of attendees at the event. 


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