Community & Business

24 March, 2024

Where it all began...

REWINDING the clock on history and in 1972-73 superintendent of Atherton Hospital Lion Dr Neville Hacker saw a need for a Meals on Wheels service.

Dr David Waldby (left) being presented with the keys by Lions president Darcy Byrnes
Dr David Waldby (left) being presented with the keys by Lions president Darcy Byrnes

In the same year Roy “Bunny” Allwood was president of the Atherton Lions Club and after being asked by Dr Hacker to take on the project, they soon got to work.

Land was made available in the showground, and plans were drawn and submitted to the council, which were approved.

In 1973-74 with Lion Darcy Byrne as president, Lions members, with the help of local bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and welders, completed the project. 

Dr Hacker was the president of the steering committee, and Dr Waldby was the first president of the working committee. They were greatly assisted by vice president Gordon Lock who worked long hours on the project.

The keys were handed over to Dave Waldby, then Chairman of Atherton Shire Council, Councillor Gordon Kattenberg in June, 1974. The first meals were delivered just a month later on 14 July.

Lions, together with their dedicated trade helpers, put in many hours of work and combined these with a bit of fun. Each day of work ended with a few stubbies – these empties ended up in the brickwork and concrete.

Later on, in 1983-84 a storeroom was added and in 1975 they were lucky enough to have a visit from International President of Lion (at the time) Johnny Balbo. He was shown through Meals on Wheels as an example of the community work being carried out by the club.

With Peter Bunyan as president in 1984-85 the club worked on the second stage of the Meals on Wheels building. The club again had the help of local tradesmen and supporters. The addition of the new kitchen made the annual show catering more comfortable.

Celebrating 50 years of MoW service to the community a number of the original volunteers are still on the committee. Today, there is a team of 140 volunteers, including kitchen helpers and deliverers.

As a tribute to the service, the Blue Nurses remarked on the improved health of many of their elderly and incapacitated patients since the Meals on Wheels started.

To celebrate Atherton District Meals on Wheels turning 50, a private event will be held for invited guests. 

Members of the Atherton Lions Club, Atherton Meals on Wheels current staff, committee and volunteers, as well as special guests from surrounding Meals on Wheels groups, will celebrate at Atherton Golf Club on Tuesday, 26 March. 


Formed in June, 1974

First meals served on July 14, 1974

14 meals sent out

Cost .50 cents


Today meals are delivered Monday, 

   Wednesday and Friday mornings.

Averaging 450 meals a week

Meal cost $14 for the three-courses

130 clients across the Tablelands region


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