Emerald mum’s legacy goes on supporting first time parents
THE founder of a Central Highlands mothers groups has stepped back after seven years of connecting new mums across the region and helping them feel supported and equipped for parenthood.
Shirley Puckering first developed the Central Highlands Mother’s Group in 2013 after the Emerald hospital stopped funding parent education classes.
The mum of four daughters started the group as a support network for mums and to provide them with educational and professional information about local services.
“I’m really glad I was able to be involved in connecting so many mums with each other and so many different groups across the region,” Mrs Puckering said.
“It was a great way to give back to the community and feel involved.”
CH Mother’s Group now hosts four groups a year with guest speakers, as well as events and social gatherings for new parents from Emerald and surrounds.
“I think a lot of families feel isolated in these towns, particularly if they don’t have family support,” Mrs Puckering said.
“Becoming a mum is a whole new learning curve so it’s vital for their mental and emotional health to be connecting with people in similar situations and just to feel part of the community.”
After seven years of supporting mums across the region, Mrs Puckering has decided to step back and let the new committee lead the group into the future.
“The new committee have some great ideas and if anyone wants to be a part of it, whether you have children or not, get involved because it’s a worthwhile group to be part of,” she said.
Group host Alana Mason first joined the parenting community as a new mum in 2015 and was pregnant with her second child when she decided to volunteer as a host of a group.
“I had not been in town that long and have no family in town so connecting with like-minded people during that time was such a blessing,” she said.
“I still catch up with those from my mother’s group now, five years on.
“Mums from previous groups are still friends and meeting for playdates which shows how successful having a supportive network can be.”
She said the biggest group has catered for about 25 mums, proving it was still a much needed service across the region.
Ms Mason said many group volunteers and members thanked Shirley for what she started many years ago.
“Yes she had volunteers help her along the way, but she alone was really the driving force, keeping it going, organising the speakers, hosts, venues.
“We now have nine committee members, plus volunteer hosts, doing what Shirley was doing alone.
“Her children are grown, but she realises the significance of creating a support network for mums with bubs.”