International Women's Day: Beris’ lifetime of service

Published 5:00am 8 March 2024

International Women's Day: Beris’ lifetime of service
Words by Kylie Knight

The Quota Club of Redcliffe has been a big part of Beris Pritchard’s life for more than 50 years, allowing her to make a difference in the community she loves, and overseas, while also making treasured friendships.

Beris Pritchard OAM joined the club in 1973, a couple of years after she was appointed Senior Mistress at Clontarf Beach State High School.

The school’s principal, who was a Lions member, thought it would be a good idea for her to join a local women’s service organisation.

He contacted a colleague at a nearby school and asked if she would arrange an invitation for Beris to go along to a meeting.

“You had to be invited back in those days. It was a big deal,” Beris recalls.

“When I got there, there was a lady who was supposed to be initiated into the club who didn’t turn up. They said to me, ‘do you want to join tonight?’.

Beris decided she would take them up on the offer and has now been a member for 51 years.

“Along the way, I went into district office, international office and I was international president in 1988-89,” she says.

When asked what has kept her involved in the organisation for so long, Beris is quick to answer.

“I think it’s the friendships and involvement. When I first joined, it was very much an invitation club like Rotary and Lions. You had to have an executive position in a business or a profession. It was prestigious to belong to it,” she recalls.

“I had only been in it, I suppose, about six months and I thought, I really don’t know if this is for me... I stuck it out and the next year they elected me President.

“What I did like about it, as I got into it, was the fact that I was working with women on the Peninsula, in Redcliffe who were highly thought of – businesswomen, professional women. They just welcomed me as one of them.”

While Beris, 85, says she is now simply a ‘rank-and-file’ member, she has previously held the office of club President about 10 times, and also served with the international arm of the organisation.

After she finished as International President, and she retired from Clontarf Beach State High School, she was invited by the international board of directors to become an administration Liaison officer for the club in the South Pacific, South East Asia and India.

It was a position she held for 22 years, supporting clubs overseas to make a difference in their communities.

Her contribution to Quota was recognised during the club’s International Women’s Day event last year – an annual event she started in 1996.

“All the service clubs have changed, particularly since COVID-19. At the beginning of COVID, our international organisation dissolved. So, now all the clubs in Australia and elsewhere are individual clubs in their own communities.

“We don’t have that big connection anymore. We’re just operating as our own little unit. It depends on how each club has interpreted that in their own community.

“We’re more a friendship club now, rather than a service club because service the way it used to be done by our clubs is not needed anymore.

“Women can bob up and have their own idea of what they want to do and just do it without having to join anything.”

Beris believes Quota has made a difference in every community its clubs have been active, supporting local causes, projects and organisations.

“Here, when we were lucky enough to run bingo sessions on a Sunday down at the Margate Bingo Centre, we were raising over $60,000 a year which was a lot of money. We could do a lot with that money back then,” she says.

“It was gratifying to see what we could do.”

She is most proud of the part Quota played in the establishment of children’s hospice Hummingbird House, raising money and awareness of the cause.

“It (Quota) has given me a focus and it’s given me a great insight into the community,” she says.

“It’s been a big part of my life for 51 years. I don’t regret any of it. It’s given me a lot more probably than I’ve given it.”

To find out more about the club, phone Beris on 3284 5129.

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