Our very own Maureen Rutlidge has been featured on Pittwater Online (18 – 24 October, 2020: Issue 470) because of her tireless dedication to making life better for so many people on our Northern Beaches. Please read the article below.
For 26 years Maureen has been the coordinator for the ‘Sunday Activities Program for Adults with Special Needs’ at Northern Beaches Creative Leisure and Learning Inc. The Sunday Activities Program offers its members – all adults with special needs – access to art and craft classes, picnics, movies and bus-trips to parks, beaches and museums.
“Social isolation is not a new problem, of course,” said Maureen on receipt of her 2019 recognition. “And while the National Disability Insurance Scheme has made a big difference in supporting the day-to-day lives of people living with disability, it can still be a struggle.”
Maureen organises tutors, artists and speakers to attend the Sunday Activities Program so participants can enjoy interesting and varied activities including music, puppet making, woodworking, drama and much more. Many of the practical activities are led by Maureen herself, drawing on her own extensive repertoire of craft and art skills. Her gift with a pen also comes in handy here as Maureen was the person who put together one of the earlier Profiles of the Week run here on that organisation in 2014. The Northern Beaches Creative Leisure & Learning evolved from the Creative Leisure Movement begun in Surry Hills in 1924 – so a 90 year Celebration was in order!
As the program coordinator, Maureen has also recruited staff for the organisation and trained loyal volunteers who play an integral part in the Sunday activities, helping with wheelchairs, craft activities, meal preparation and much else besides.
“The intergenerational contact between volunteer and client is appreciated and greatly enjoyed by all.”
The indefatigable Nan Bosler AM along with the original founders of Northern Beaches Creative Leisure and Learning Inc. is who Maureen states inspired her commitment to community service;
“An incredibly inspiring, innovative and forward thinking person, who pioneered creative leisure activities on the Northern Beaches in the 1970s and is still active in the community today.”
Maureen has also taught scripture in Public Schools for 30 years and received the ‘30-year Certificate’ for their work there by the Catholic Diocese in 2018.
Since 1992, Maureen has volunteered with the Local Studies History collection, (originally at the former Narrabeen Community Learning Centre in the former Narrabeen Girls High School, then from 2000 at Mona Vale Library) and organises local ‘history walks monthly, too. Some of these past invitations to adventures have been part of this news services’ Notices.
Maureen is also the lady who authored the 2020 Narrabeen Lakes Amateur Swimming Club History page published here, where her volunteer work as Treasurer is ongoing and she is a Life Member. Her help with images for the complementary running North Narrabeen Rock Pool: Some History of the same Issue helped nail down some details.
The NLASC 2020/2021 Season starts next weekend, with registration currently open for this great family-focussed community swimming club.
It’s easy to join our club, just come and see us at 1:30pm on any Saturday afternoon between October and April at our beloved rock pool at North Narrabeen. Find out more at: www.nlasc.com.au
This week a small insight into one of our community’s treasures:
Where and when were you born?
At Bowraville, on the NSW North Coast, in 1946.
Where did you grow up and what did you do for fun as a youngster?
Grandparent’s Farm at Viewmont, then we moved to Nambucca Heads to assist with schooling.
Plenty to do on the farm with my sisters and brother, pet animals, trees to climb, gullies and paddocks to explore, some school holidays assisting my father in picking the vegetables in season. After the family moved to Nambucca Heads, the ocean beach was 2 minutes away so we enjoyed a lot of time on the beach with friends.
What are the most noticeable changes between the landscapes and playgrounds of your childhood and how those places are now?
With our farm being sold after the death of my Grandparents, there has not been much chance of visiting the farm for a long time.
Before my parents died, we visited Nambucca Heads regularly, but now we pass through generally once a year and try to catch up with friends and some nieces and nephews who live around the north coast.
The major change to Nambucca Heads has been with road improvements over the years, the Pacific Highway has now bypassed the town, so more emphasis has been put into encouraging holiday-makers and more people are retiring there as well.
I spent the first four school years at the little school at Viewmont, which my father and his siblings had attended in their time.
When my eldest sister was due to attend High School, my father built our house at Nambucca Heads on a block of land he had owned since their marriage.
From 1956 we attended a Catholic School at Macksville, a short distance from Nambucca and completed my schooling there.
What did you want to do when you left school – and – what did you end up doing?
I had the idea of becoming a Librarian, but being a small place, limited opportunities existed at that time, with a lot of young people moving to Sydney or elsewhere to follow their chosen career paths.
I began working on the Telephone Exchange at Macksville and remained there for just over four years, after which, with further study, I was promoted to Monitor in Charge and transferred to Queanbeyan.
Later, having moved to Sydney, I became interested in working with older people and enrolled in a Diversional Therapy Course at Red Cross. After graduation, I worked in the Red Cross Handcraft Centre, later transferring to Graythwaite Nursing Home in North Sydney. After Mike and I married, we moved to Elanora Heights where our children were born and grew up.
Narrabeen Ladies Swimming – why are you involved with this group – why is it important to advocate for a swimming club?
When our children were old enough to participate in local sporting activities, Mike and I assisted in various ways and both had positions on Committees, firstly Little Athletics, then Narrabeen Lakes (formerly Ladies) Swimming Club, both of us still assisting with this Club, Mike as Chief Starter and I am Chief Time-keeper and Treasurer.
When our daughters were in Primary School at St Joseph’s Narrabeen, some of the ladies from the Learn to Swim section of the Swimming Club provided lessons to the children from the School during the summer months. With this connection, we therefore enrolled the girls in the Narrabeen Lakes Swimming Club and along with our elder daughter, we have been involved since 1995, Helen being the President since 2005.
With the importance of all children learning to swim for safety reasons, the Swimming Club provides each member with necessary skills and enjoyment in swimming, in learning how to compete with other swimmers and promotes camaraderie among the members. Promoted as a family club, we encourage parents to swim as well, with the children enjoying the challenge of swimming with their parents.
In 1992 I began volunteering with Nan Bosler in the Local History unit in the former Narrabeen Community Learning Centre, later moving to Mona Vale Library when the History Collection was moved there, where I am still working as a volunteer with Local Studies to this day.
In 2000, responding to requests from some seniors in the community, History Walks were introduced, with leaders being local historians, people with an historical knowledge of an area and Local Studies Librarians from the Mona Vale Library. These walks include the Peninsula and North Shore areas of historical interest. For a few years a fortnightly Cards morning was conducted at the Nelson Heather Centre, but is in recess at the moment.
Northern Beaches Creative Leisure and Learning – how did you get involved as a volunteer there?
From 1994, encouraged by Nan, I became the Coordinator of Northern Beaches Creative Leisure and Learning, which evolved from the Creative Leisure Movement begun in Surry Hills in 1924. We continued some of the classes and activities which Nan had pioneered on the northern beaches from the 1970’s through this organisation.
Acknowledging that isolation frequently deprives people living with disability of many of the ordinary pleasures that other people take for granted, in conjunction with Cerebral Palsy Australia, Nan and I set up a series of weekend workshops in 1995, to enable those living with a disability to socialise, interact and learn new skills in a supportive, encouraging environment.
Now conducted monthly, participants enjoy a variety of activities, including art/craft classes, cooking, music/drama workshops, special interest demonstrations and discussions.
You have done many things in many areas for our community through the decades – what are the 3 projects that stand out STILL for you as important to you – and why are they?
- Moving to Elanora Heights after Mike and I married, I became involved in our local Catholic Church community and responding to a request for assistance in researching the history of our Parish in 1986, this began a journey which has become an ongoing process, being now the unofficial historian and custodian of our Parish Archives. Having a lifelong interest in History, this local research in one way fulfils that interest, as does the work I do in the Local Studies at Mona Vale Library.
- Providing opportunities for adults with a disability to socialise, interact with others and learn new skills continues the purpose and aims of Diversional Therapy, as referred to previously. Working with the elderly residents at Graythwaite Nursing Home, later relieving at a local Day Centre and some Nursing Homes and now organising History walks, Card mornings and other activities for Seniors, encourages the constructive use of leisure hours and promotes the enjoyment of lifelong learning, which is one of the aims of Creative Leisure & Learning.
- Being involved with the Narrabeen Lakes Swimming Club over so many years, I have seen many children enjoy learning how to swim and develop friendships with fellow members. The celebration of the 80th Anniversary of NLASC in 2014 became an opportunity for me to research the Club’s history and produce a potted history of significant events from each decade. This became a valuable resource during the negotiations leading up to the recent renovations by Northern Beaches Council.
What are your favourite places in Pittwater and why?
Warriewood Wetlands, having organised several Walks in and around this area as new paths have been created through the development of the Warriewood Valley. I have had a lifelong affinity with water, be it creeks, rivers or oceans, I find water provides me with a feeling of peace and tranquillity.
Other places where one can enjoy walking include parts of the Bicentennial Coastal Walkway from Palm Beach to Manly, currently being upgraded.
What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase that you try to live by?
When I came to Sydney, I worked for a time at the Sydney Dental Hospital and on a desk in the Finance Office was the following quote –
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
For me that quote sums up the purpose of life – embracing life with a positive attitude, making the most of opportunities for doing good. Isn’t that all any of us can do!