Small donations can make a big story.

A collection of nine badges was recently donated to the Yass Archives by Mr Allan Carey. Each of these nine badges has a story to tell about a lady belonging to a family that has always been keenly involved in Yass community service.

The sale of small tin printed badges was once a popular strategy to raise money for worthwhile causes. From the dates and organisations represented on the badges, Allan feels the collection belonged to Mrs Lilian Carey, his grandmother.

The badge featuring Miss Ella Howell was part of a venture to raise funds for the Yass Show Society. Although Ella didn’t win the Queen competition, the five candidates in 1934 raised £600. Ella was one of the four maids of honour at the lavish presentation ceremony and Coronation Ball that followed.

David Thiele, from Maroochydore Queensland, was a swimmer. An excellent rifle shot herself -“the finest lady shooter to ever shoot at the rifle range”- Lilian was obviously happy to support a sportsman who went on to win two gold medals in subsequent Olympic games, in 1956 and 1960 in the 110-yard backstroke event before going on to become one of Australia’s top surgeons and President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

The Legacy War Orphans Button Day Appeal was a regular feature after World War II. Succinctly put, “the State should provide for these children but can’t” so it was up to people like Lilian Carey to help. It is impossible to date this badge accurately, but we do know that badges on sale ranged from a hefty £10 down to 6 pence.

One lovely little badge has the photos of two smiling young children and added a much-needed shilling to Legacy funds. The Australian Comfort Fund Appeal operated between 1916-1920 and then again 1940 -1946, and many, mainly women, in Yass were very active in the fundraising through badge selling and cake and homemade goods stalls. There is a badge from the World War II period. It depicts heavy artillery, a diving fighter plane and a ship and also adds 1 shilling to the fund designed to provide comforts to the troops like clothing, tobacco, cakes, condensed milk, and newspapers.

Lilian was a foundation member of the Yass Ambulance Auxiliary formed in 1940 and its President from 1956. She is famous in Yass for her determined organisation of the Top Town competition in 1954 along with Olive Clifton and David Bullman, which raised funds for the much-needed Ambulance station building and put Yass on the map as the Top Town winner.

Mr Allan Carey who donated the fundraising badges

Lilian was also a foundation member of the Yass Royal Far West Committee, a member of the Royal Blind Society Auxiliary, the Dr Barnado Homes Committee and a life member of the P &A Association.

The two Yass Hospital badges demonstrate her involvement in and support of local community facilities. One is dated 1940 whilst the other has a beautifully detailed sketch of the old Yass hospital building.

Lilian often played the piano for dances in the Yass Memorial Hall. A striking badge features the well-known building with the two upstairs side additions which required much local fund-raising support. Typically, Lilian also supported the Salvation Army as attested to by the badge featuring a bonneted smiling Salvation Army lassie.

The remaining badge, Souvenir of this Show, is inscribed “designed by a disabled soldier”. It is undated but showing a serviceman flanked by a ram and a horse both sashed with Show ribbons. Probably post World War II, this button gave recognition to a veteran and either raised money for disabled veterans or the Show Society or perhaps both. It leaves us wanting to know the name of the talented, courageous designer.

This generous, hardworking lady was ably supported by her husband Charles. He was similarly committed to his community as a life member of the P & A Association and a member of the volunteer fire brigade from 1927 until he retired after 41 years of service. In 1982 Lillian and Charles were presented with a well-deserved Apex Citizen of the Year Award.

The family story by no means ends there. Their son Norm gave many years of active service to the fire brigade as did their grandson Allan, the kind donor of these fascinating badges. Allan’s service of 42 years in the volunteer fire brigade has been fittingly recognised. His grandmother would be very proud of him. The Carey family have called Yass home for generations and Yass has been very fortunate to have them.

Judith Davidson, Yass and District Historical Society.