Elma Wilkinson has visited the Nerang RSL every Friday for a spin on the pokies and a spot of lunch for an impressive 26 years running and was honoured on Friday, October 18 at the club ahead of her 100th birthday at a special morning tea with her nearest and dearest.
Andrew McInnes, General Manager of Nerang RSL, says Elma is a much-loved member of the club.
“It’s long-time members like Elma that truly exemplify what it means to be part of an RSL,” he said.
“By taking an active role in her local community for close to three decades, it’s amazing to see the sheer amount of friends she has made and the connections forged with all the staff.
“She is very much adored by everyone and is truly part of the furniture.
“Elma has visited every single Friday for a total of 26 years running, and we couldn’t be more honoured to celebrate such a huge milestone in someone’s life.
“The morning tea was our way of saying a huge thank you to Elma, and we hope she has an amazing 100th birthday celebration with her friends and family.”
Born in Coraki, New South Wales on October 19, 1919, Elma moved to the Gold Coast with her husband Christopher in 1942, who sadly passed away six years ago.
The couple spent 71 years in marital bliss and after Christopher’s retirement bought a Volkswagen Kombi Van and spent time around Australia fossicking for gemstones.
Elma is the proud matriarch of a large and close-knit extended family, including her children Christine and Robert, seven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and two great, great-grandchildren.
Elma’s daughter Christine said the 100th birthday celebrations extended over two weeks, culminating at Evans Head for a 60-strong family gathering.
“We wanted to make this mum’s most special birthday yet,” she said.
“It was fantastic to see the Nerang RSL hold this wonderful event for mum and she is adored by several staff members and local visitors.”
Christine says Elma still spritely hops on board the Nerang RSL courtesy bus week after week, and is out and about every day on her own.
“She is an utter free spirit who is completely independent and doesn’t want to be cooped up at home,” she said.
“Everyone in the family jokes that if you want to see Elma, you better make an appointment – she’s never home!
“She knows everyone and is incredibly social for a woman of her age.”
We just had to share a couple of snaps from Elma’s Birthday Bash!
Q) Can you tell us about your role at the Nerang RSL?
“I started at Nerang RSL as a casual gaming attendant and after a few lucky breaks, good timing and some external studying I progressed to Gaming Co-ordinator, and, just last month I celebrated
my 20th anniversary at the Club! My role as Gaming Coordinator is to ensure the Club has all the latest gaming products like Gaming machines, Keno, Bingo and TAB. I also ensure the Nerang
RSL meets all compliance and Responsible Gambling Rules – the Club has actually been inducted into Clubs Queensland’s Hall of Fame for Responsible Gambling, which is a positive aspect for our
Q) You’ve been at Nerang RSL for 20 years – you must have seen a lot of changes around the club including to the Gaming area, can you tell us about this?
“In my time at the Nerang RSL, I have seen three major renovations, with the Club more than doubling in size. One of the biggest changes I have seen is the technology implemented at the Club,
which has enabled guests to do everything from order meals on an IPAD, play Bingo without using a dobber on a PET9 Bingo tablet and place bets on the Melbourne Cup without filling out a ticket, to checking KENO ticket on self serve terminals and use membership cards to collect and transfer money between machines in our Gaming room.”
Q) What’s one of your favourite things that the Nerang RSL does as a Club?
“Being a big sports fan I really enjoy the fundraising the Nerang RSL does for the Men of League Foundation. The Club regularly holds ‘Big Talk’ nights which are an opportunity for the community
to come together to support the Foundation, enjoy a BBQ and listen to a range of guest speakers across the Big Talk events. Everyone is always welcome and it’s a lot of fun, all while raising money for a great cause.”
Q) What is some of the training yourself and staff members have to undertake to ensure the Responsible Service of Gaming?
“All staff have completed their Responsible Service of Alcohol and Responsible Service of Gambling courses. The Club’s Venue managers are also trained Customer Liason Officers, to assist members with responsible gambling concerns.”
Q) What are some of the most exciting prizes the Nerang RSL has given away?
“We’ve given away many great and varied prizes at the Nerang RSL including cars, holidays, boats, a Harley Davidson … and everyone’s favourite, cash!”
Q) What do you enjoy most about working at the Nerang RSL?
“I grew up in a small country town in Northern NSW, where my father was the President of the local Club. The Club was the social hub of the town, so when I moved to the Gold Coast I looked forward to joining something similar. To me, the Nerang RSL has a real village feeling and when you hear the words “I will see you at the Club,” you know exactly what they mean. The Nerang RSL is a very welcoming club with a fantastic environment, so it’s great to be a part of that.”
The Nerang RSL and Memorial Club played host to an intimate lunch on Tuesday, September 3, to honour veterans and wives of those who fought courageously in WWII.
The event marked the 80th anniversary of the commencement of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War and offered a rare opportunity for the WWII veteran community to unite.
Mark Swain, Commemorative Committee Member of the Nerang RSL, said the lunch was a chance for 20 surviving veterans and wives to come together and share stories over a three-course lunch, all within an intimate setting.
“It was an exciting opportunity to bring together a distinguished group of individuals and say an enormous thank you for their service in such a critical time in our history,” he said. “We heard a few incredible stories of mateship that are so synonymous with the ANZAC spirit.
“With many ex-serving Veterans now in their mid-nineties, this event is a crucial time to recognise and celebrate these members of our community.”
Never short of a story about his past adventures, WWII veteran Derek Mumford, 93, said he and his wife Diana were excited to attend the commemorative lunch.
“My wife and I have been members of the Nerang RSL for close to forty years, and we thoroughly enjoyed socialising and trading some stories over a few drinks,” he said.
“It was great to see other veterans who we haven’t met before and we forged some new friendships.
“I feel truly honoured to have received an invitation to this special event.”
Lifelong Nerang resident Kim Bruhn is no stranger to the local community, volunteering countless hours of her own time to give back to the suburb she calls home.
Kim, who has worked as a contracted cleaner at the Nerang RSL for over five years, is most recently the driving force behind a huge charity effort to help those in need suffering from the recent bushfires.
Living in Mount Nathan, Kim saw the destruction the fires were causing in neighbouring rural areas and put in a word to Nerang RSL General Manager, Andrew McInnes and Club President, Terry McDonald, to suggest a call-out to the public to donate non-perishable foods and drinks to be donated.
Kim’s efforts saw a huge outpouring of support from the local community, so much so the rural fire brigades from Canungra and Gilston/Advancetown ran out of room to store the donated goods!
Even more still, Kim personally drove the goods out to the rural fire brigades to show her community spirit.
Kim says giving back is important to her and she loves to do whatever she can to help the local community.
“It was a no-brainer to see what I could do for the fire-affected communities, given they are so close to home,” she said.
“I was amazed to see the overwhelming level of support we had from the whole local community, and it’s a testament to the Nerang RSL for doing their bit to help in this awful situation.”
Kim also volunteers her time as treasurer for the Nerang State School P&C and oversees the raising of funds for new equipment for the students.
Kim, who has overseen several changes to the Nerang RSL in recent years, said the club still retains its warm, close-knit community atmosphere.
“The building may have undergone a facelift, but what makes the Nerang RSL club great is the members and staff who fill its rooms,” she said.
“It’s always lovely to come to work and see no shortage of families enjoying the social environment or the staff with smiles on their faces.
“It truly is the last of the great RSL clubs across Australia, with the community at its very heart.”
It’s safe to say Kim is our very own ‘community hero’ and we couldn’t be happier to have her as a club member and a dedicated, hard-working member of staff
Thanking you for your ongoing efforts, Kim!