Back in the day, there was no such thing as volunteering.
Getting stuck into local projects that would benefit everyone, not just certain individuals or families, was a normal part of everyday life.
The whole community was the winner, feeling buoyed and united, and able to meet any challenge that might befall it.
That’s how the iconic Memorial Hall in Hamilton Hill was built. A determined Maud Mary Winfield was the driving force behind the hall’s funding and construction by the community over five years.
Its hallmark limestone blocks were sourced from a neighbour’s adjacent lot and after being painted for many years post-war, this original and once common local building material was exposed in a 2008 renovation by the City of Cockburn.
Construction finally began on 21 March 1925, with Mrs Winfield laying one of two foundation stones that you can still see at the site today, on the corner of Rockingham Road and Carrington Street.
Just five months later, the proud community attended a banquet to open the hall conceived to honour the district’s fallen and returned sailors and soldiers who served in World War I.
Maureen Fisher-Sim (nee Ottey) is Mrs Winfield’s great granddaughter and she’s made of the same steadfast stuff, working tirelessly in our community over decades, purely for the love of it.
She is Quintessentially Cockburn.
Her latest and most rewarding project has been to welcome the local community back to its handsome hall in Hami Hill to gather, meet and make connections, at a time when many people are doing it tough.
Mrs Fisher-Sim leads new incorporated community group Hami Helps which has just held its first Hami Eats event. More than 80 people of all ages and walks of life were able to gather for a nutritious free feed, and the fellowship and community connection that flows from that.
Others are planned for 1 September and 1 December.
So when did Mrs Fisher-Sim start “volunteering”.
“I’d seen my family working in and for the community all my life so it wasn’t really unusual to me, it was very normal for all of us around that time. We didn’t expect any monetary reward,” she said.
“I started as an eight-year-old with the Hamilton Hill Brownies and the motto was to lend a hand.
“We did Bob-a-jobs, small tasks for coin donations. We would pick up rubbish and visit the oldies, often performing concerts. The Girl Guides were the same. We were taught to be of service to others without expecting anything in return.”
In the years that followed, Mrs Fisher-Sim became president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of the Hamilton Hill Community Group.
She was also a committee member of the now disbanded but much-lauded Cooby Cares food charity.
She is an executive committee member of the similarly awarded Friends of the Community. It raises funds by providing healthy low-cost food at special events, donating more than $180,000 to 60 charities and individuals, and scholarships for local high school students embarking on university study.
Mrs Fisher-Sim still lives on a section of the original Hamilton Hill block owned by her great grandparents Maud and Walton Winfield, the latter serving on the Fremantle District Road Board 1935-39.
It’s not hard to guess Mrs Fisher-Sim’s favourite spot in Cockburn.
“Memorial Hall is where I feel a sense of place,” she said.
“It’s heart-warming that after so many years of wanting to get the community back into the hall that was built for it, Hami Eats has made that a reality.
“Places like these were built to keep the community together as a meeting place and that’s what I hope it can continue to do in the future, especially after so many early years a place where people went to dances, movies, weddings and other celebrations.
“It was a real focus of the community, a safe place to go where you could see old friends and make new ones.”
Mrs Fisher-Sim was named the City of Cockburn’s Active Citizen of the Year in 2016 and was an active volunteer when the following organisations received awards:
- 2023 - Friends of the Community – Volunteering WA Organisation of the Year (Volunteering WA)
- 2021 - Friends of the Community – Cockburn Volunteer Organisation of the Year, 2nd place (City of Cockburn)
- 2020 - Cooby Cares – Cockburn Volunteer Organisation of the Year (City of Cockburn)
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