Committee formed to commemorate 91 years of Glen Innes Rural Youth Club

PLANNING: Ashleigh Winter, Tahlia Sturtridge, Jim Griffiths, Cr Carol Sparks, Cr Dianne Newman, Cr Colin Price, meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday morning. Photo: Nicholas Fuller
PLANNING: Ashleigh Winter, Tahlia Sturtridge, Jim Griffiths, Cr Carol Sparks, Cr Dianne Newman, Cr Colin Price, meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday morning. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Plans to commemorate the foundation of the NSW Rural Youth Club 91 years ago here in Glen Innes are underway.

An organising committee of 14 current and former members was formed at a meeting at the Services Club on Tuesday night. Further meetings will be held on May 7 and 21.

"We are excited at the proposal to recognise the original NSW organisation, and Glen Innes Club as the first formed," organiser Sarah Winter said.

The committee plans to hold a celebration on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November, with a reunion dinner and a dedication of a mural or grove of trees.

"It will give Glen Innes another iron in the fire of tourism," meeting convenor Jim Griffiths, from Grenfell, said. "People will recognise that the Rural Youth Club started here."

Council would support Mr Griffiths' proposals as much as they can, mayor Carol Sparks said on Tuesday morning, meeting with Mr Griffiths and club members.

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At its peak, the state Junior Farmer Organisation of NSW - renamed Rural Youth Organisation of NSW in 1966 - was a thriving organisation, with 260 clubs and 7400 members between 1950 and 1970.

The Glen Innes club was the first founded, on November 28, 1928, and hosted annual state conferences in 1962 and 1992.

Members learnt skills from farm management and seeding to dressmaking and cooking, as well as public speaking and debating.

While the NSW organisation closed in 2001, the local club is still active, with more than 20 members.

"It's a tribute to the people and families of the Glen Innes district for having maintained an operating Rural Youth club into its 91st year," Mr Griffiths said.

The Glen Innes club has been small at times, often with only two or three families, Ms Winter said - but they plan to expand. Membership is growing; two families joined in the last six months.

"It's a great thing for the community," new member Tahlia Sturtridge said. "Getting it up and going would be really good for the youth of Glen Innes and surrounding areas, to get them involved with rural life."

The club's focus has always been the Glen Innes Show. They run the animal nursery, built in the mid-1980s. Ms Winter's daughter Ashleigh has been involved with it since she was a baby, and remembers a cleaning bee a month before the show, and collecting, feeding, and watering the animals.

The club was also involved with the Drought Relief Fundraiser in October, and volunteered at the Gem Festival in March. They plan a fundraiser for the animal nursery, which needs maintenance to keep it safe for animals.

Cr Sparks hoped more rural youth would join the group.

"Youth is very dear to my heart," she said, "and rural youth are very important, particularly coming from this farming community. The more interested youth we have in farming, new farming techniques, and sustainable land management, the better."

The committee will meet again at the Services Club on May 7 and 21, at 6pm. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend.