Women’s group's popularity growing

West Melton Women’s Group members gather for dinner each month. Photo: Supplied
West Melton Women’s Group members gather for dinner each month. Photo: Supplied
A friendship group in a Canterbury township is growing in membership as newcomers join.

About 75 women belong to the West Melton Women’s Group, the number having almost doubled from pre-Covid levels. 

Speaker organiser Isabel Kirk said the group meets for dinner, featuring a guest speaker, each month at Larcombs Event Centre. 

Those joining were seeking connection. Members came from throughout the district, with some from Christchurch.

“I think there’s quite a lot of loneliness in the community, particularly for people who move into Selwyn District,” Isabel said.

The group was open to all ages. Current members were from their 40s to 80s.

She said the group was established in 1995 by Isobel Knight, who was a resident of West Melton at the time. She modelled it on a similar group her mother had belonged to in Te Anau.

“The group was particularly good for women who did not have children involved in the playcentre and school, or were away working during the day which meant they did not have the time to join any daytime groups,” Isabel said.

“The first committee was of five ladies whom Isobel rang to get together and an announcement was placed in West Melton News.”

Forty-five women attended the first dinner, held at Langdale Vineyard Restaurant. The dinners continued to be held there until the earthquakes.

The group had climbed to 120 members by that time, and there had even been a waiting list to join. However, membership dropped after the earthquakes due to a break in meetings.

Isabel Kirk, with guest speakers at a recent meeting Lego Masters NZ semi-finalists Rachel and...
Isabel Kirk, with guest speakers at a recent meeting Lego Masters NZ semi-finalists Rachel and Jason de Vries. Photo: Supplied
There were about 40 members in 2019. Covid saw another break in meetings, and now numbers were climbing again.

For each dinner, members were seated with different people each time.

“The beauty of it for me is you sit at a different table every month, so you are meeting six to eight new ladies each month,” Isabel said.

She herself had joined after moving to West Melton in 2013 and meeting one of the group’s members through her church.  

“She invited me to the group dinner where I met local ladies, and like many have formed lasting friendships.”

Member Gillian Roberts said one of the group’s members had responded to a post she put up on Facebook, saying she was new to Rolleston.

“We met and chatted and she encouraged me to come and try the West Melton Women’s Group,” Gillian said.

“It has been great, and I have met women who are from all walks of life, as well as enjoying listening to some very interesting guest speakers. In addition I have made friends, which has been a bonus.” 

Robyn Farrar, who has been a member for more than 20 years, said she had been on the waiting list to join before she and her family moved to West Melton.  

“I was so excited to meet such a variety of women from all sorts of vocations, plus great speakers and good food. I have learnt so much over the years from others, this is part of women doing community.”
Guest speakers this year have included Lego Masters NZ semifinalists Rachel and Jason de Vries, Selwyn police Senior Sergeant Anna Lloyd and Louise Hoban-Watson of Christchurch Hospital volunteers.

• If you would like to be a guest at a West Melton Women’s Group dinner, phone Lois Dobbinson on 03 342 9094 or email westmeltonwomensgroup@gmail.com