2 July 2024

Wagga RSL Club announces a changing of the guard with the first female president

| Chris Roe
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woman and RSL club

Jane Barnes is the first woman to be appointed president of Wagga’s RSL club. Photo: Wagga RSL.

The Wagga Wagga RSL Club has a new president and she is looking forward to continuing a long legacy of investing in the community.

Jane Barnes is the first woman to be appointed to the position, following the club’s June board meeting.

“Before I joined the board, I really had no idea of how much the RSL çlub did for the Wagga community, but having been on it for the last five years, it’s amazing just how much help is given,” she said.

“There’s a lot of stuff that we put our name to with the different charities and things, but there’s a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes that we just get in and do, and I really like that and I’m looking forward to doing more.”

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Jane succeeds Peter Thomas, who served as president for the past eight years and was a board member for 16 years.

Peter was awarded life membership in 2021, and decided this year that the time was right to step back and make way for “fresh perspectives and new energy”.

Jane joined the board in 2018 and brings extensive experience in business and the public service as well as roles on the board of the Pro Patria Centre, which provides veteran support, and chair positions with COMPACT Inc and the Defence Reserves Support Council.

“My dad was a Second World War vet, and I have two children that are currently serving, so I’m very tied into Defence and the RSL,” she explained.

“Pro Patria is an organisation that the club supports very heavily. We think they do great work, and my position on the board of Pro Patria is to make sure there’s a conduit between Pro Patria and the RSL club board.”

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Local auctioneer and stock and station agent Ryan Smith has been appointed as the new vice-president and Jane was full of praise for the way the board worked together.

“We make a lot of joint decisions, so my role will be chairing the meetings and being the face of the club when it comes to working with the RSL, Pro Patria and like-minded organisations, but the fact that we have a really well-formed, well-functioning board makes a big difference,” she said.

Licensed premises extension concept art

The open design of the new alfresco extension to Wagga RSL Club will be “light and airy”. Image: PODGroup.

The next few years will see some big changes at the popular club, with long-awaited renovations kicking off this month.

The venue will have a new outdoor deck, new and larger outdoor gaming, an alfresco restaurant extension and a spectacular two-storey “kids’ club” when the work is complete.

“It’s going to be very busy and we’ve actually just started undertaking some of the work that will happen in the club over the next 18 months to two years,” Jane said.

“So members and guests will see some big changes in the club, which will all be to benefit the members.”

A two-storey “glass box” will house the “kids’ club”, complete with a large climbing frame, ball pit and more. Image: PODGroup.

The new glass-enclosed children’s area will dominate the southern side of the club, incorporating a massive climbing frame and a sunken ball pit, while the outdoor deck will overlook the club’s bowling green and the racecourse.

The new club president said she was proud to represent such an important part of the Wagga community.

“Everyone knows the ‘rissole’ [RSL] and where it is, but, as an organisation and a club for its members, where people can gather and enjoy themselves as well as helping the community, I don’t think you can beat it!”

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