Monday Memories – Royal Show Tearooms

Unfortunately this year the Royal Show will not be going ahead like so many other things this year. We can still however, remember the past thought and the wonderful ladies who set up the tea rooms at the Royal Show.
In 1929, WA’s Centenary year, a Centenary Exhibition of women’s work was organised by a GFS committee headed by Miss Connie Miller. It was held in the hall of the high school (the former Hale School, which was on the corner of Parliament Place and Havelock Street) for ten days and was opened by the Governor, Sir William Campion, whose mother was GFS Central President in England from 1896-1900.
The 8,000 articles shown were made or used by women during the previous 100 years. 217 pounds was cleared and this paid for the GFS Refreshment Booth to be built at the Royal Show – a good fund raiser for many years and a great help towards paying off the debt on the GFS Headquarters building after it was purchased. Mrs Alfred Burt and Miss Connie Miller led a team of keen workers at the Show Booth.
 The GFS House Mother cooked all the cakes on the wood stove at GFS Headquarters and they were often taken to the showground in the GFS caravan. During World War II the building was taken over by the army and returned to the Society in 1945. After much consideration of the problems involved, including staffing, it was decided not to continue with the Show Booth and it was sold to the Red Cross.


Monday Memories – Caravan Part 12

“From 1926-1943 a “little house on wheels’, as the children called it, travelled through the outback of Western Australia, bringing friendship, comfort and the message of the Gospel to the settlers, and a special ministry to their children.” Quote from A Century of Challenge by Jean Seymour.

Using the same program as we do in Perth we have in the past taken our Holiday Clubs “on the road!”. We have visited Katanning, Bunbury, Bruce Rock, Wongan Hills and Esperance.

Our first “country” holiday program was held in 2013 in the July school holidays and we visited Bruce Rock and then Wongan Hills.  Little did we know that this would begin a wonderful time of connecting with children (and adults) in the rural centres on a yearly basis for some of them.  In the past few years we have just visited Wongan Hills and Esperance with other centres not having people to help us out in the town.

We look forward to continuing this again this year in the October holidays in Wongan Hills.


Monday Memories – Sporting Activities Part 2



The first senior GFS team was entered in the West Australian Basketball Association competition in 1955. The team played at South Belmont, Doubleview Primary School, Leederville and Redcliffe State Schools. The main ground was Langley Park, but games were also played at Perth Boys’ and Girdleston Girls’ School each Saturday. Girls in the teams were coached by Mr Laurie Heil, who was a CEBS Leader at St Mary’s, South Perth, and they trained on the Mends Street tennis courts at South Perth. Following are details of the teams taking part:

1956         1 senior team           1 junior team

1957         1 senior team           2 junior teams

1958         1 senior team           4 junior teams

1959         1 senior team           4 junior teams

1960         2 senior teams         4 junior teams

1961         1 senior team             1 junior team

1962         1 senior team playing at the Matthews Centre, Wembley for the first time.
(By then most of the girls were playing in High School teams and that was the last year the girls participated as GFS members at the Matthews Centre.)

Alison Elliott (nee Waller (dec)) played a key role in the GFS senior basketball. She was captain of the first team and competed in that section for five years. She was also coach of the GFS team that competed in the Society’s Interstate Netball Carnival in 1973.


Although GFS members from 15 years were able to play in the WA Basketball Association, there was no competition for the Sub-Juniors, 10-12 years of age, so GFS started its own and this continued with outstanding success for many years at the Anglican Sporting Association ground in Mt Lawley and other venues. The opening of the first season at ASA took place on 5 May 1962 with a colourful march past of over 100 girls in brightly coloured uniforms from the 15 GFS branches competing, with another branch joining in later. Miss Glenys Pickford (nee Waller) and Vivienne Waller and Rowena Clairs played a big part in the organising of this competition.

In the second year of the competition there were 17 GFS teams playing at the ASA grounds and eight teams at Fremantle. Approximately 200 GFS members took an active part each Saturday. In 1964 the CEGS were invited to share in the competition and in that year there were 23 GFS teams and five CEGS teams taking part at three centres.

In 1965 a change was made and instead of the inter-branch basketball matches a series of Lightning Carnivals were arranged during the winter at the ASA grounds. A separate competition was organised by Miss Ellaine Wright, a GFS leader at Millen (East Victoria Park) branch, with some CEGS teams playing in that competition. Lightning Carnivals were continued at the Matthews Netball Centre at Floreat Park when it opened. In 1972 there was a special inter-branch netball competition at Matthews Centre, when 16 teams took part and a squad of 20 girls was selected to train for the GFS Interstate Netball Carnival to be held in Adelaide in May 1973. 10 girls from the group were chosen in early 1973 for the team. The CEGS were also invited to take part and they had a junior and senior team and four leaders attending the carnival.


Monday Memories – Past Chairperson’s Part 2

Carrying on from our post on the 11th of May, following are some more Chairmen that have lead GFS here in Perth:

  • Miss Marian Creeper (1958-1960)

Miss Creeper was a member of GFS from the time she was a Junior and had already made a big contribution to the Society as a leader before she became President. She had the capacity to inspire people with her own vision and during her term of office GFS reached great heights, both in membership and achievements.

  • Miss Margaret Bunday (1961)

Miss Bunday was Chairman of GFS for one year before she took up a teaching appointment in England. She had been a GFS leader for some years and brought many skills to her role as Chairman. The Society continued to grow and develop under her leadership.

  • Mrs Merle Davis (1962-1970)
Mrs Davis played a very important part in the life of GFS during the nine years she was Chairman. There was great outreach by the Society in that period, particularly in regard to the Mission work of the Church, which received tremendous support from the GFS branches through her encouragement. Mrs Davis took a keen interest in the work of the Lodge, with which she was very much involved, as she was with every area of the Society. She used her considerable literary skills for the benefit of GFS and was Commonwealth Literature Secretary for many years. She also edited the Society’s Australia-wide magazine, ‘Cooee-Link’ , and prepared much of the material for the ‘GFS Lone Post’ for correspondence members in WA. While she was Chairman she introduced a comprehensive newsletter, with which she kept everyone in touch with what was happening in the Society.


Unfortunately I don’t have any photos at the moment to add to this, but hopefully I will be able to find some in our archives.  Please feel free if you have any photos of these ladies to add it to the comments or maybe you have a memory to share with others. 


Outreach Part 1

The history of GFS in Western Australia brings to life the members’ role in caring and serving within the Anglican Church and the community.  It is no t possible to list all the areas of concern where branches have seen a need and made a real effort to be involved, because it was often done quietly and without publicity. The support took the form of fund raising, the making of gifts and regular visits (including carol singing at Christmas and other entertainment). Branches often developed a special and long lasting link with a home or hospital in their parish and a warm relationship grew up between the girls and those they befriended. Amongst some of those helped have been:

  • St Bartholomew’s, East Perth
  • St George’s Hospital, Mt Lawley
  • Moline House
  • James Brown House
  • Anglicare
  • Daisy House (a branch of Anglicare in Girrawheen)
  • Scarborough Hostel for Mentally Retarded Children
  • Rowethorpe
    (Disclaimer: The names/terms above where the names/terms used back in 1988 and may not be currently used)
Many branches supported St Bart’s, but one that developed a particularly strong link with it was St Aidan’s , Scarborough. The girls enthusiastically washed cars and held cake stalls over many years to raise funds for the home. A group of leaders and senior GFSers always visited it the Sunday before Christmas and attended the Holy Communion Service in the chapel with the men before handing over the gifts members had made for them (including jam, cordial and cakes) and boxes of food . The residents of St Bart’s were always very moved by the visits and the personal ‘handing over’ of gifts.


After hearing that Anglicare had an urgent need for napkins and baby clothes, this was made a special project during 1986. GFS members and leaders held fund raising functions and sent regular parcels to Anglicare throughout the year. For the first time they had nappies always ‘on the shelf’ and the baby clothes filled an urgent need for many mothers-to-be in desperate circumstances. Some $800 was raised and the estimated value of the gifts to Anglicare was set at $1,000 – due to many items being mad  and the discounts obtained from bulk buying.
Miss Jan McNamara – Chairman of the GFS Branch Committee of the time, with Ms Billy Parker, Anglicare social worker.


Celebrations 100 Years Part 1


Planning for the 1988 Centenary year of GFS in Western Australia began in  1985.  The first decision made was that a history should be written covering the 100 years and research was commenced by Mrs Jean Seymour in January 1986.

A Centenary Committee was formed in June 1986, with Mrs Joan Matthews as Chairman.  Those who worked with her to plan for the Centenary were Mrs Ruth Walker (Secretary), Miss Jan McNamara (Treasurer), Mesdames Alison Elliott, Brenda Ballingall and Jean Seymour, The Society owes a great deal to them for the work they did in the following two and a half years to make the Centenary celebrations so outstanding, The committee was assisted by member s of the Branch Committee in arrangements for the camp and picnic.

The decision about the events to be held was an important one and planning so far ahead was not an easy task.  It was decided that the main functions would be a Centenary camp, a dinner, a service in St George’s Cathedral and a picnic and fellowship day.


This was a seaside camp, held at the Ern Halliday Centre at Hillarys.  There were 102 girls present, plus thirty leaders and cadet leaders.  The programme included a wide range of activities to appeal to the different age groups and some of them were combined.  One of the features of the camp was the preparation of a Roger Jones musical ‘Greater than Gold’, which told the story of Mary Jones and her bible. A special visitor at the camp was Mrs Ruth Reid, the wife of the Governor, who was Patron of the Society and she cut the large birthday cake with its 100 candles.


Monday Memories – Leader Training Part 2

Deaconess Joyce Polson made an outstanding contribution to GFS Leader Training over the years from 1966-1972, both in her role as Diocesan Youth Officer and later as GFS Leader Training Officer. The training of Junior Leaders was being emphasised at this time and she had special skills in relating to these teenagers. This was a time of great development for the Society, both in numbers of branches and increase in membership and she was able to show by her training methods what a valuable asset the Junior Leaders were. In 1967 she had 35 Trainee Leaders at a weekend at Pt Peron and 23 of these were under the age of 19 years.

Deaconess Polson ‘decentralised’ her leadership training sessions and this made it easier for Leaders in outlying developing areas, who could not always attend the courses held in Perth. She very successfully combined the training of Junior and Senior Leaders in the same sessions and each age group gained from the other being present. 40 Junior Leaders attended the last training weekend that she organised for them.


Post War Years CEGS – Part 2

1950 was another year of expansion, with the Organising Secretary continuing to widen the outreach of the Society. Apart from strong branch and parish involvement, there were many Diocesan functions in which GFS took a prominent part. The year finished on a very strong note with seven new branches and further big increases in membership. The results achieved by Miss Granrott were outstanding and set the Society on a further path of expansion. Miss Granrott married after her term of office was completed and continued to live in Western Australia. One of her daughters (Mrs Elaine Clark) was an active GFS leader and she also had three grandchildren in GFS.

In view of the tremendous growth in GFS over these two years, it was disappointing to the Society when another girls’ organisation, the Church of England Girls’ Society, (later to be known as CEGS – the Anglican Girls’ Society) was formed within the church about this time. It was not a ‘break-away’ group, but one that emphasised that all girls joining must be members of the Church of England.  Leaders in GFS were to be communicant Anglicans, but the Society has always been open to those of other denominations and those of no faith position and this has been a ‘missionary’ aspect of the Society that has brought many  people  into  the  Anglican Church.  As their pre-requisite of being Church of England (Anglican) was later changed by the CEGS, it meant that there were two organisations in the church with similar aims and programmes.

Over the years GFS held out the hand of friendship and involved the CEGS in some of its activities. There was also shared Leader Training and combined activities with the three uniformed groups – GFS, CEBS and CEGS.  In 1985 approaches were made to GFS from various levels in CEGS suggesting that they amalgamate with GFS, and it was decided to have a year’s trial of working closely together but each organisation keeping its own identity.  GFS was delighted to be involved in this way and shared all the Society’s latest literature and programming material with the CEGS and invited them to join in its annual camp and other activities. Some GFS branches took part in the CEGS Indoor Games competition. There was also a representative on each Society’s Committee. It was a year of enjoyable sharing, but at the end of it an amalgamation did not take place.  CEGS and CEBS no longer operate in WA but we are still in contact with some leaders from both groups. 


Monday Memories – GFS Caravan Part 11

Travelling in all weather, it was often too hot in the summer to sleep in their van and very bleak in the winter. There could be extremes of weather even when travelling in the same area.

Their diaries give a wonderful insight into the work in which they were involved; such as two entries when they were visiting Queda (now not even a name on the WA map!):

Took the harmonica into a house (5 children) and sang old songs and hymns by lamplight. The lady of the house was the post mistress and had rung up her neighbour who had a private phone, and when the concert began the receiver was taken off so she in her house two miles away could also enjoy the music.

Bishop of Kalgoorlie arrived with the Rector (Mr Bishop) for Celebration of Holy Communion. Hall looked very nice. Planks on petrol boxes for seats.  Table borrowed from a house for altar – travelling rug for frontal.   Dinner plates covered with a handkerchief for offertory plate.  Two rugs off van beds for kneelers. Petrol box covered with a sheet with a pudding basin on top for a font, at which the newest arrival in the district was baptised. About 56 present.

Because of the different drivers for the van, it was not possible to have an RAC membership card in the name of one person, so a ‘composite’ name was chosen – Miss June Driver – which was quoted when help was needed.


Monday Memories – Headquarters Part 8


Before the final move from 532 Hay Street in July 1973, a ‘farewell’ social gathering was held at Headquarters so that GFSers, past and present, could say goodbye to the building which had been the heart of GFS for almost half a century.

Many friendships were renewed on this occasion and memories shared of the happy times at GFS Headquarters. There was an opportunity for those who wished to do so, to speak about special memories they had of the building and this was a very moving experience. The GFS hymn was also sung. It was sad having to say goodbye to a much loved Headquarters, which had brought joy into so many lives, but those happy memories live on.

The Society moved to an office in Law Chambers, and there were many advantages in being part of the Anglican Church Offices on the same floor, and the modern facilities were appreciated. However, we missed having our own centre for meetings and activities and Council and Executive meetings were held either in parish halls, at the GFS Lodge, Hale House Hostel or the Board Room at Church Office.

The money from the sale of 532 Hay Street was invested until a decision was made about rebuilding. For most of the intervening years it was with the Anglican Deposit Fund.  It was to be nearly eight years before there would be a new GFS Headquarters, when rebuilding took place at the GFS Lodge in Adelaide Terrace.

On Tuesday the 23rd of June 2020, we held a Farewell service for Townsend Lodge as like above GFS is changing and evolving like it has done throughout it’s history.  It was a lovely service led by our Chaplain Reverend Rae Reinertsen.  A short snippet of some of Jan’s memories of the lodge is attached, more will be available soon in our “Archives” section of our webpage.


Monday Memories – GFS World Part 3

Following on from Part 1 which was posted on 30th March this year (if you need to refresh your memory!)

Five GFS members from the Philippines spent 1½ days in Perth in October 1972 on their way home from the GFS World Council in Melbourne. They were taken on tours and met a number of GFS members at a picnic and also a dinner at Kings Park Restaurant. They wore their Philippine costumes to dinner, then they all returned to GFS Hale House where they performed the ‘candle dance’ in the darkened lounge, with only the light from the candles in small glass holders balanced on their heads and the palms of their hands. A moving experience to watch.


In 1974 Sue Shepherd and Heather Robb, two English GFS leaders, visited Australia for three months leadership training and sharing of skills. They visited all States.  In 1977 two other English GFS leaders, Susan Birrell and Christine Carr, also visited Perth.

In 1987 it was a special joy to welcome a Welsh GFS leader, Mrs Rosemary Macdonald, who attended a GFS Leader Training Weekend at Wollaston College and spoke about the plans for the GFS World Council to be held in Wales in July.

These many ‘hands across the ocean’ have given us a very special bond with our worldwide GFS.

At each World Council a decision is made on a special World Project for the following three years. The proceeds of these have enabled young women in countries where help is needed to be trained to work with the youth in their churches.  Amongst the countries which have been helped are Kenya, Guyana, the Philippines, Lesotho, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Transki, Caribbean, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Japan and the last one Sri Lanka. In the case of Transkei, a cottage industry was built up to provide employment for young women. The project is used as a teaching medium for GFSers and special material was provided to the branches, to supplement their own research so that the girls learn about the country, its people and their way of life, as well as raising funds for it. The collection at the annual Festival Service in St George’s Cathedral was always given to the World Project.  This is a practice still observed to this day around the world in various forms.


Monday Memories – Caravan Part 10

There were also loving arms reaching out to the caravan from overseas. Apart from the tremendous support given by GFS in England in raising the money to provide the van and helping it financially for the first year, Miss Edith Yaizey-Hope, Leader of the Swanage, Dorset branch and Perth’s English representative on the Overseas Committee, had a very special request to make. She asked if her branch could become the van’s ‘Godmother’ and send it little gifts from time to time. This was continued during the Depression years and through part of World War II. Some were sold to help the caravan funds and others were suitable for small gifts to those who provided hospitality to the van workers. The link with Swanage branch was very strong and Miss Yaizey-Hope came out to Western Australia as a voluntary worker for several years.
The GFS van and the dedication of its workers became well known and often a garage would do repairs at a special price or put extra petrol in the tank without charge. The country people themselves were very grateful for the visits that cheered them in their loneliness and would give the van workers milk, cream, eggs or freshly baked cakes and many times asked them to stay for a meal.
Through the years that followed many valued helpers continued to help with the work of the caravan in the outback for varying periods – all in a voluntary capacity. They helped the clergy in whatever way there was a need – visiting the lonely, teaching Religious Instruction in the little schools all over the State, starting Sunday Schools and also linking many hundreds of children with the Sunday School by post. They helped with services (often playing the little portable organ), started GFS branches and linked each one with a city branch where possible, gathered the names of women for Mothers’ Union and men for the Church of England Men’s Society. During the time they were working in these huge parishes, under the direction always of the Rector, they acted as an ‘extra pair of hands’.
They were able to pass on information to him about babies to be baptised and young people to be confirmed, as well as families where his help was needed.


Farewell to Townsend Lodge

We would love to have you join us as we say farewell to Townsend Lodge and a service and afternoon tea on Tuesday the 23rd of June 2020.  Please contact the office to let us know if you are coming.




You are invited to the 2020 AGM


Thursday 25th June 2020, 6pm @ Townsend Lodge

To download your invitation and nomination form please click here



Monday Memories – Post War Years Part 1

During the Second World War much of the GFS work was linked with special war efforts. Many branches were affected by their leaders joining the services and the fact that fewer young women were free to take their places.  Blackouts and restricted lighting in church halls also caused problems. Some of the branches were able to continue, but others closed.

After the war, GFS faced a long period of rebuilding and looking at ways in which it could help a new generation of girls. The Executive members saw the need for re-organisation and new ideas in the Society, and in 1948 enquiries began both locally and in the Eastern States for an Organising Secretary. Miss Leila Granrott, a GFS leader from the Diocese of Melbourne, was appointed to this position for six months from February 1949. This was later extended to two years and it was to be a period of dramatic regrowth for the Society. The number of branches grew from 10 to 27 (including one at Boulder and two at Northam) and the membership rose from 150 to 800.

As soon as Miss Granrott took up her position she began to re-organise branches and gave the Society a ‘New Look’ by introducing a uniform for all member s. It consisted of white dress, shoes and beret, a blue triangular scarf and the GFS monogram embroidered in blue on the pocket.  This meant that members were easily recognised at functions they attended. Through her contacts with the clergy and as a result of speaking at Deanery meetings, branches were either revived or formed in at least ten parishes in her first year as Organising Secretary and membership grew rapidly. Miss Granrott placed a strong emphasis on Leader Training and arranged many training sessions and weekends during the time she worked with GFS.

Mrs Gertrude Thompson was the Chairman of the Society during this period and she gave strong backing to Miss Granrott in her outreach.

1949 was a lively year full of growth and well supported activities, and large numbers of members in their new uniforms took part in the Good Friday Procession of Witness, Ascension Day Youth Service and National Fitness Council ‘Youth Week’ activities, which included a Youth Service at Winthrop Hall, and a Youth Pageant at the Royal Show, where GFS had a float and 100 girls marching. Miss Granrott spent a lot of time visiting branches and giving support to both new and established ones.