7 December 2022

Keeping Goulburn’s car giveaway on the road

| John Thistleton
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three people standing in front of giveaway car

Rosemary Chapman, Ray Strong and Des Rowley with a new $24,000 MG MY22 auto wagon the Lions Club of Goulburn City will buy and hand over to a winner at the end of this month. Mastercards worth $2000 and $500 in fuel will be won as well. Photo: John Thistleton.

In the days following Christmas Day Sydney has its yacht race, Melbourne its cricket Test at the MCG and Goulburn has the lucky winner of a car. For more than 40 years, the perennial post-Christmas question in Goulburn, “Who won the car?”, arises as consistently as the outcome of any traditional sporting contest. And while the winners don’t enter the record books, they enter their family’s folklore.

An out-of-town winner brought his family including his mother with him to collect his car, saying they were making the trek into town for ice cream.

“He gets into town, we present him with the keys and he turns around and gives them to his mother,” Rosemary Chapman said, recounting the story. “And his mother said, ‘I thought I was getting an ice cream!’”

Rosemary is a former Lions Club of Goulburn City president and key person in running the raffle. She says Goulburn man Joe Crawford won it two years in row in 2018 and 2019. “There is a story every year,” she said. “A couple of years ago we could not get hold of the winners. We tried to find out who bought the ticket, a friend of so-and-so’s. The people were not answering their phone. It turned out the winner’s daughter worked at Bathurst jail, so she could not answer her phone when she was on duty.”

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Lions stalwart Des Rowley remembers when it began as an art union in the mid-1970s. Tickets were $20 and they gave away three cars. But part of the art union rigmarole was having to first buy the cars. By the time one was handed over to the winner it had about 200 kilometres on the clock and was secondhand from being driven back and forth from the dealership.

These days Goulburn dealers wait until the winner is drawn, then give them their choice of car to the value of the prize. It’s a more flexible arrangement without art union protocols so long as the value of the car is under $30,000.

While the raffle is well entrenched, the City Lions are often surprised people think the car is donated to the club, which it isn’t. They must sell enough tickets to buy it. This year the club aims to sell 7000 tickets at $10 each. After raising $70,000 Lions will distribute about $45,000 back into the community thanks mainly to the car raffle.

Different members have taken charge of the raffle which is an enormous task. Ray Strong is this year’s chief organiser. Previous organiser Rosemary says there is a month of organising and two months of selling tickets involved, adding up to a lot of work for one person.

“You feel like you are running a one-man show, but you have to, you cannot not do it otherwise you do not have the accountability,” she said. “You have to go around each seller, collect their tickets, check their money, bank the money. It’s a very big, time-consuming job to do.”

Members know that if they should let even one year lapse and forgo their major fundraiser, another organisation will swiftly take their place.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas Lions members are at the two shopping malls and on the street, which means six people are needed for four-hour shifts each. “To get six people every day is a big ask, for them to do that time,” Rosemary said.

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The introduction of EFTPOS helped sales during her period as chief organiser. The tap-and-go option accounted for a quarter of sales back then and now it is used by 50 per cent of ticket buyers. The winning number is computer generated two or three days after Christmas.

“Some of the businesses take books of tickets,” Rosemary said. “They buy them as their donation.” The approach of Christmas helps too. “A lot of people use them as presents,” she said. “The main people who buy are our older seniors, they buy them for their children and grandchildren. What else can you buy people who have everything, at a reasonable price?”

Ray can remember the last afternoon of selling one hot summer when bushfires were everywhere and selling 180 tickets in a final rush of eager buyers. Members are hoping for a similar rush this year as they raise money for welfare, hospitals and all manner of other charitable and community causes. The raffle will be drawn on Wednesday, 28 December, when a fresh story is likely to emerge to enhance a much-anticipated Goulburn event.

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