10 May 2023

Volunteers needed: Cooktown race club desperate for more hands

| Sarah Martin
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Peter Shields and Terry Taylor are among a dwindling crew of volunteers working around the clock in preparation for the Cooktown Cup meeting on Saturday week.

WITH less than a fortnight until gates open for the 148th annual Cooktown Cup races, organisers are urging punters to put up their hands to ensure the future of the popular event.

Local retirees Gloria and Des Savage, who have been volunteering with the Cooktown Amateur Turf Club since the 1960s, said it was time for new blood to take over and continue the tradition.

“We need some young ones to take over the committee so us oldies can resign, and we need more volunteers during the year,” Ms Savage said.

“There are mostly just the four of us volunteering – Peter Shields, Terry Taylor, Desy and I.

“Desy is out there at least six hours a day, seven days a week most times, and so are Peter and Terry; we’re all getting too bloody old.”

Ms Savage and Mr Shields spend hours cleaning, mowing and maintaining the enormous racetrack, clubhouse, amenities and grounds and also sit on the turf club committee.

The pair fear that without more help and new faces on the committee, the annual event could fall by the wayside.

“I really don’t know what is going to become of the club because we’re getting too old to keep doing it all,” Ms Savage said.

“But if we don’t keep going it’s going to fold and I’d hate to see that happen.

“I just hope we can get some new people to take it over and we’ll be there in the background if they want to ask any questions, but they can do what they think is best.”

Ms Savage said volunteers weren’t expected to commit to hours of help every week, with any support appreciated.

“If we had more volunteers we wouldn’t have to do so many hours,” she said.

“If we could get half a dozen people who could do a few hours here and there it would soon add up.”

Mr Shields, who is the turf club vice-president, said the bulk of the ground and clubhouse maintenance had fallen on himself, Terry and Des.

“Leading up to the races, we’re here every day,” he said.

“We’re pretty lucky in that we are retired and physically fit, but we really need more help.”

He encouraged racegoers to enjoy the November 5 event and consider putting up their hand to be involved as a committee member or volunteer.

For more information on volunteering, contact Mr Shields on 0428 873 187 or 4069 6181.

Visit www.cooktownraces.com.au for tickets and information.

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