It was a bitter pill to swallow for hundreds of CWA of NSW Tea Room volunteers last year when the Sydney Royal Easter Show was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, with many missing their first show in years.
But in 2021 the show is back and so are the volunteers who staff the CWA of NSW Tea Room for the duration of the two-week event. For the 73rd year – it would have been 74 had it not been for last year’s cancellation – more than 200 volunteers will again be on hand to help feed the thousands of hungry visitors returning to one of NSW’s biggest events.
Barbara Reichert has been a member of the Gloucester Evening Branch for 35 years and has worked at the Tea Room for a decade, three of those as chair of the CWA of NSW Show Catering Committee. She said it was a time of year she really looked forward to and last year’s cancellation was a big disappointment.
“It was really deflating for all of us, and was a blow for the association as the Tea Room is our biggest fundraiser,” she said. “So, this year there’s a real anticipation about being back and serving up our Devonshire teas again. I think everyone’s going to be anxious for a CWA scone after missing out last year.”
Barbara said she got a lot of satisfaction out of working at the Tea Room, enjoying catching up with other volunteers each year and seeing how important it was to show visitors.
“It’s such a popular meeting place for family and friends. So many people choose it as the place where they reunite with loved ones and it’s so nice to see and really adds to the atmosphere,” she said.
Behind the scenes, it’s obviously all systems go, Barbara saying it was an enormous logistical effort to feed thousands a day over the 12 days of the event. In a normal year, the Tea Room usually sells an average of 4000 scones each day, and while necessary COVID restrictions around this year’s show will no doubt curb attendance numbers, volunteers are still expecting a busy time as show-goers try to make up for missing the famous Devonshire teas last year.
The Tea Room raises on average $150,000 each year, which helps with the running of the CWA of NSW and its assistance programs. CWA of NSW president Stephanie Stanhope said last year’s cancellation of the show was a blow from a financial perspective, as it was for so many organisations, with the association actually turning to ‘virtual’ scones as a small alternative fundraiser. The Tea Room is such an integral part of our association, and as we look to our centenary next year, we appreciate just how important it’s been in helping shape our history and what we stand for. We all missed it last year so to be back again doing what our members have done for more than 70 years is particularly satisfying.”
Media are welcome to visit the Tea Room throughout the show, and if you’re interested in attending or have any questions, please call Kylie Galbraith (0411 480 208) or Virginia Johnstone (0430 793 875).
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