GO Girls is a social group formed by Yvonne Richards that offers friendship, support and fun regular outings to mature women in need of some companionship. They also raise money for charity and do what they can for the Coffs Coast community along the way.
Hi Yvonne. Tell us about your connection with Coffs Harbour.
My husband was an engineer and I was a travel journalist/travel manager, so we have travelled and lived in many places (overseas and Australia) over the years. About Eleven years ago, when we retired and were looking for somewhere special to live, we decided Coffs Harbour ticked all the boxes.
How did GO Girls come about?
When we moved to Coffs Harbour we didn’t have any friends or family in the area, so I decided I would advertise in the local paper for “any women new to Coffs Harbour who would like to have coffee and innovative outings”.
Within ten days I had thirty women contact me! I spent some time talking on the phone to each of them, and there was a common thread – moving here and finding they were missing friends and family.
I decided to call them all in to a meeting, so as to form a friendship group.
The name GO Girls suited, because I like to innovate and inspire and encourage mature women to do more with their lives.
I started the group in 2008, so we will be celebrating our 10th birthday this year.
How many members do you have in the group?
Our membership varies between 85 and 100 women from all nationalities and all walks of life. Women often join the group to make friends, and then move on in their smaller more individual friendships, or they move out of the area. Women are always calling and wanting to join the group, but we do not go above 100 members.
What are some of the activities you do with the group?
Our activities are numerous. Apart from monthly coffee and chats and birthday lunches we have special occasion get-togethers – ie. St Pat’s Day, Xmas in July, the group’s birthday, Melbourne Cup, Xmas breakup etc. Movies, shows, taking in a night out at a club, and optional partners six weekly dinner, tennis, nine pin bowls, small dog group, line dancing are all options for women to participate in.
Every year we have one or two trips away – sometimes a rail day trip, a river cruise, sometimes a two or three night trip to an area like the Gold Coast to take in a show or do some shopping. We have even taken a cruise, and there are requests for another.
You have recently created a Reflection Seat as part of the Reflection Garden here in Coffs. Can you tell us a bit more about the concept and how it all came together?
Over the years GO Girls has raised money for cancer, Relay for Life, the RSPCA, Happy Paws, Animal Welfare, and a number of families in need, but last year we decided we wanted to do something for the wider community of Coffs Harbour, and visitors, and a Reflection Seat was our choice.
We established a Reflection Seat and garden down near the South Wall. The seat provides a special place for the general public to sit and reflect whilst overlooking our beautiful Jetty Harbour, the hills beyond, our marina, Muttonbird Island, and the harbour entrance.
The location we have chosen is very special. It is situated within the landform known locally as Corambirra Point, near the foot of the old quarry on South Coffs Island, traditionally named Bunyun Miirlari by the local Aboriginal community. South Coffs Island and the area has an historic association with women, and is recognised as being of high cultural significance to the Gumbaynggir people, being a “healing place, a keeping place, and a place where important journeys would begin”.
We are very proud of our accomplishment, and have a GO Girls plaque set in to the concrete in front of the seat.
We also heard there was a special unveiling. Can you tell us how it was received by the group and wider community?
On 21 December 2017, the Reflection Seat was officially opened by Mayor Denise Knight. Aunty Bea Ballangarry honoured us with the traditional Welcome to Country and by blessing the seat.
All the positive feedback we have received about our Reflection Seat has been wonderful.
What do you hope participants get out of being part of the group?
I believe every woman needs girlfriends, and we especially need friends as we age. Mature women can become very alienated and isolated for many reasons – losing a partner, living away from family, due to an illness or a breakdown, or maybe because they feel they are no longer useful.
GO Girls throws out a life-line – offering friendship, support, activities, and lots of social companionship and enjoyment with like-minded women.
We are about being happy, and having plenty of fun and laughter.
How do people contact you?