Cherrison Lawton, a member of the Royal Australian Air Force in the late 60s, has recently been appointed the first female president of the Bacchus Marsh RSL.
What’s your connection to Moorabool?
We moved here only in 2011 [from St Albans], but we had already fallen in love with Bacchus Marsh because we would bring our children up here for picnics, for the rivers, and fresh fruit. Our daughter went to Ballarat for university, so we would be quite often travelling backwards and forwards through Bacchus Marsh. When our daughter bought a house here, my husband Bruce and I came up to look at her house and we were having lunch together – I was just sitting and looking at the gum trees and the river and thinking, “I could live here”. And Bruce said: “I could live here”.
We had just renovated our home in St Albans thinking we were going to retire there and then we put it on the market and moved here.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Moorabool?
I feel so at home. There are so many names that are familiar – names of people but also street names. It’s very similar to where I grew up in Rockhampton.
I grew up in the foothills of Mt Archer in Rockhampton. I’m looking out of my lounge to Mt Blackwood and Lerderderg Gorge now – so I feel very much at home.
What would you change about the area if you could?
I don’t want to be critical because Bacchus Marsh is fantastic, but I’d like to see, especially at the RSL, a lot more facilities for our servicemen and women. Our servicemen have to go to Melton and I know it’s not that far, but they’ve got to go out of our little town for some of the services.
Where’s your favourite place to hang out in Moorabool?
Would I be very cheeky if I said my deck because it overlooks the village of Bacchus Marsh? I’m generally at the RSL and we do occasionally enjoy visiting the Providence [retirement village] where we see some of our friends.
How do you feel about being the first female president of the Bacchus Marsh RSL?
I am so privileged and honoured, and for the club to have the confidence in me is just quite amazing. When a 90-year-old couple come up to you and say, “I think we need a change”, there must be something in the wind. [Laughs.]
To me, I don’t think there’s any difference between a male and a female … I suppose I’ve grown up in an environment where I was encouraged to always be equal, so this doesn’t feel any different.
What veterans issues are you most passionate about and why?
One of the things I’d like to see happen is that as well as senior veterans being looked after, the younger veterans are being helped to transition into their new lives. We are putting names to certain things, like post-traumatic stress disorder … but my desire is to ensure the younger veterans will keep reaching out so help can come to them.
What direction would you like to take the Bacchus Marsh RSL in?
What I’d really like to see is for it to become more accessible to younger and working veterans. Our RSL is quite geared to people who are not working at the moment.