The power of community: from local netball pioneer to Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea host
By Cancer Council NSW
Dot has always believed in the power of community
Giving back to her community is nothing new to 90-year-old Dot. When she moved to Padstow in the 1960s with husband Jim (Dec 2003) and her seven sports-mad children, she set up the South Bankstown Netball Club so her daughters and other local girls could play netball. The club became extremely successful, with Dot later receiving an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her services to netball.
Dot wanted to make a difference when cancer touched her family
When Dot’s son-in-law Ray was diagnosed with cancer aged just 50, Dot was desperate to do something to help. Knowing she could convince her friends, family, and neighbours to rally round for a cup of tea, she signed up to host an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea (ABMT).
“Ray was doing everything that the doctor said, but he couldn’t overcome his cancer. So I decided to put on a morning tea, to help fund cancer research but also just to get the family together and help Ray in some small way.”
Dot hosted her first ABMT at her own house, with some tables in her front yard and garage. It was the start of something big – within just a few years, she had so many guests that they had to move the morning teas to her daughter’s house just down the road.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of different groups of friends… Friday lunch friends, water aerobics friends, line-dancing friends, netball friends, church friends, friends from swimming at Brighton Le Sands on the weekends, friends who live on my street. They all come along.”
Ray’s legacy lives on through Dot’s morning teas
Ray died when he was 65, after living with cancer for 15 years. After he died, Dot wanted to continue her morning tea tradition to help keep his legacy alive – and there was no better occasion than her 90th birthday in March 2023.
“I decided that I didn’t want any presents – I just wanted people to support my morning tea.”
The whole community got behind Dot’s event – her daughters and granddaughters embroidered gifts for guests, while her family and friends helped with the cooking. Friends and family canvassed local businesses for raffle prizes and a close family friend provided live music on the day. Milperra Lions Soccer Club put up their hall as a venue.
The morning tea was a huge success, with nearly 120 people in attendance. Together, they raised over $4,000, bringing Dot’s total to more than $15,000 over the years – funds that will continue to make a vital difference to people impacted by cancer.