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First President of the WA Unit of ACW

For 55 years Australian Church Women (ACW) has been blessed to have some wonderful women as members. Women who are and were very active in both their church and community. Sometimes, these women joined ACW later in life when they brought much experience, wisdom and energy to participation in the ACW program and activities. This week, we're reflecting upon one of those remarkable women who played a valued part in the founding of an ACW Unit and its subsequent success.

Gladys Rosalie Locke, MBE

Miss Gladys Rosalie Locke, better known as Glad, was the first President of the Western Australia Unit of Australian Church Women. The year was 1965 and Gladys was living a very full life in retirement; she was especially devoted to the YWCA who she represented when the WA Unit of ACW first commenced. This inaugural state committee of ACW was formed to plan for greater communication between Church Women's groups.

In that same year Glad's contributions to the YWCA were widely acknowledged, and she was made a Life Member of their National Board. In the following year, 1966, Glad received an MBE award in recognition of her work for the YWCA of Australia. From the early 1940s, Glad was very active in this organisation being State President from 1951–53, Chairperson of the Finance Committee and taking a leading role in many of their community initiatives. She was later made a Life Member of the Perth YWCA in 1973.

Glad continued to represent the YWCA as their state representative to Australian Church Women until 1987. One year later, she was made the first Life Member of the WA unit of ACW. During her 22 years with the WA Unit, Glad served another term as President and held the office of Unit Treasurer during the 1970s.

As a young girl, Glad attended the Plympton (East Fremantle) State Primary School. She did very well in her studies and in 1911 won a scholarship to attend the Princess May School for Girls in Fremantle. From there she progressed to the relatively new university of WA, which was established in 1911 prior to classes beginning in 1913. Throughout Glad’s time at the university, it comprised a series of ‘tin sheds’ in Central Perth, and its funding and operation were severely disrupted by the First World War. In 1920, Gladys Locke was one of the first women to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the fledgling University of Western Australia, although she was unable to attend the graduation ceremony.

Glad became employed with the Education Department of WA and by the 1940s was very involved with community activities. Golf was her sporting interest, and she became Secretary of the Royal Fremantle Golf Club in 1940. The club also had its own Red Cross branch, and the members gathered weekly to sew and raise funds. During the Second World War, Glad became President of the East Fremantle branch of the Red Cross Emergency Service. She hosted meetings at ‘Woodlawn’, her family home in East Fremantle, in which two bedrooms and the lounge room were used by the Emergency Blood Bank.

Glad was a member of the Methodist Church and later the Uniting Church. From 1954–1978, her heritage-listed home was the venue of YWCA World Fellowship Group meetings and from 1954–1974 meetings of the Soroptimists Club were also hosted at 'Woodlawn'. As you can see, Glad had many community interests and she supported them all faithfully.

The WA Unit of ACW was very fortunate to have a member of the calibre and talents of Glad join them in her retirement years and serve so capably for many years after. She is remembered fondly for her strong Christian faith and her willingness to use her many skills and talents to promote the aims of Australian Church Women. Her dedication to every pursuit demanded that a great deal of her time was given to others and ACW valued her steadfast support.

Born in 1898, Glad was an active woman for the Lord until her nineties, when she passed away in 1990 on 29 May.



Honouring Australian Church Women Memorial Book and the online Trove collection at


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This Herstory Blog of Australian Church Women Inc. tells the stories of the women and activities of this national Christian organisation that was founded in February 1965.

Stories that inspired and encouraged me to begin this blog and share their inspiration with you. Stories that need to be told so that the women of ACW can be honoured and celebrated for their achievements and experiences in local, national and international communities of faith. And, most importantly, stories that demonstrate being disciples of Jesus Christ firmly underpins all that Australian Church Women represents.

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