A COUNTRY market that started with just 12 stalls has raised over $70,000 for health services and grown to host over 70 stallholders.
The 14-member Willaura Healthcare Auxiliary has fund-raised for the Willaura Hospital through the outdoor market over the past 14 years.
The auxiliary built the annual market into a huge event that attracts around 1500 people from across the state.
The money raised has gone towards improving the lives of residents in Willaura’s Parkland House Hostel and patients in the hospital.
Items purchased over the years have included furniture, televisions, DVD players, wheelchairs and nursing equipment, and the funds have also paid for a refurbishment of the family room, as well as entertainment and excursions for residents.
The auxiliary has also contributed $20,000 towards the hostel’s redevelopment.
Market coordinator Jane Millear said it was dazzling to think of how much the group had raised.
“It all goes into the well-being of the residents at the Willaura Hospital,” she said.
Ms Millear also said running the market helped to keep the community together.
“It’s just great to see people coming from all over the place and be part of it all,” she said.
“It takes on a life of it’s own and it’s fun. At the end of it all you get enjoyment out of it and make wonderful friends.”
The market involves more than 60 residents who volunteer with set up and pack down, and the Auxiliary ensures there are plenty of opportunities for other community groups to get involved.
“We’ve got Rotary who help us with the public parking, which is fantastic,” Ms Millear said.
The Auxiliary strives to maintain the market’s high standing in the market community so it continues to attract boutique stall holders, and it looks after its volunteers to avoid burnout.
“I enjoy it and I’d love someone else to take it on because I’m not a spring chicken anymore, but I’ve got a few people giving me some help,” Ms Millear said.
“We’re trying to get some younger ones in but it’s very hard because a lot of them have two jobs these days.”