Obituary: Betty Beament gave back in spades

Elisabeth (Betty) Beament (nee Sneiders)
8 February 1927 to 21 February 2023.

BETTY was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1927, the second child of four. She spent her childhood with her parents, sister and two brothers in a rural area just south of Brussels where her enduring love of the country and rural pursuits was developed. The family moved back into a small apartment in Brussels when the Germans occupied Belgium at the start of World War II.

Betty joined the Girl Guides, aged 14, in 1941. It was a wonderful way of making new friendships and having outdoor adventures helping her to “escape” for at least short periods of times the harrowing experiences of the war in Europe. Betty’s memorial service at Molesworth on March 18 heard that the Guide movement may also have been a way of providing assistance to people suffering under the Nazi occupation.

Betty met her future husband Leslie, a medical orderly in the British army, after Brussels was liberated and they married in June 1945. Betty & Leslie settled in England after the war where their first daughter Patricia was born. But post-war Britain was a tough life and they obtained sponsorship to emigrate to Australia as “10 Pound Poms”.

Leslie arrived in New Norfolk in 1950 with Betty and Patricia joining him about six months later after he had found a home for them to come to. This house was in the avenues at Norfolk North and the couple’s second daughter Susan was born here in New Norfolk.

Betty was determined to fit in with her new community and promptly joined in various community organisations which also helped her improve her command of the English language, although she retained her Belgian accent. Throughout her life she would join in any fundraising activities for worthwhile community causes. She particularly joined the fundraising committee determined to raise funds for an Olympic pool to be built on the New Norfolk Esplanade, having been present when a young man had drowned in the River Derwent.

Throughout her daughters’ school years, she was an office bearer in every Parents and Friends Association of the schools they attended. She also spent many years as the sewing teacher for the girls at Molesworth Primary School.

Betty and Leslie purchased a property in Molesworth and moved there with their two daughters in late 1954. The property would become a big part of Betty’s work with the local Girl Guides from the 1960s onwards. Fond memories of her time as a Girl Guide in Brussels prompted her to accept the local Guides’ invitation with alacrity.

Camping was her favourite activity and many Girl Guide camps were held in the sheltered paddock next to the Glen Dhu Rivulet on their Molesworth property over the decades. Betty’s passion for Guiding and camp activities in particular saw her not only influence the lives of many girls and young women as their Guide leader but go on to be State Guide Adviser.

As State Camping Adviser she organised and ran many state camps as well as taking Tasmanian contingents of girls to Australia wide camps including the Bicentennial International camp in NSW in 1988 which she recounted as being a total mud bath, as it poured most of the time.

Betty was presented with the honour of the Guide Wattle Award for her years of service and contribution particularly in camping. Betty maintained her association with Guiding in later years through membership of the Trefoil Guild, an association for retired guide leaders, in which she was awarded a life membership. In 2020 she was recognised for 60 years of service and membership of Guides Australia.

When Betty was not busy shaping the lives of many young women through her Guiding pursuits, she busied herself in many local community organisations. Ever ready to give back to the community which had given her so many rich opportunities she jumped in to many local organisations. She was a founding member of the Molesworth Recreation Reserve Committee which worked with the Derwent Valley Council to acquire and develop a public open space for Molesworth.

She also joined the Molesworth Community Hall committee in their attempts to build a more modern and fit-for-purpose hall for the community of Molesworth, working hard to raise the funds for the construction. She was very proud when Stage 1 was opened in 2007 and even more so when stage 2 was finally opened in January 2016.

She formed a group with other like-minded people in Molesworth who called themselves the Molesworth Community Carers. Their core purpose was to meet, greet and welcome newcomers to Molesworth and help them settle into the community as well as doing things such as collecting donated school uniforms and other items to help out local families in need.

She was active in a Molesworth Tidy Towns committee for many years and also was a driving force in organising Christmas carols held annually at the Molesworth Hall in conjunction with the Molesworth Primary School. Betty was named the Derwent Valley Council’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year for 1983 in recognition of her service to the community and particularly the Guide and Brownie movements.

After her husband Leslie’s death in 2010, Betty joined the Legacy Widows Guild and continued participating in community groups until failing health saw her move into care just prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her passing is the end of an era for a woman who was determined to make a difference in her adopted country and give back in spades to the community which had welcomed her as a young immigrant and mother.

Betty is survived by her two daughters, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, most of whom spoke at her memorial service at the Molesworth Community Hall on March 18.

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