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Karoo Express
First female president for The Bedford Club

HISTORY was made in Bedford on Friday, August 17, when Barbara Church accepted the nomination as president of The Bedford Club.

She is the first woman to take up the leadership position in the 114 years of the club’s existence.

As recently as the 1980s, women were not even allowed into what was then a gentlemen-only establishment.

In her short acceptance speech, Church said that her election was the continuation of a process that began one evening in 1985 when two feisty Pringle women burst into the club pub through the French doors. The men gathered inside froze.

Eventually, one of them said, “I don’t know what to do. Should we sign them in?” Because the two women clearly had no intention of leaving.

Club secretary/treasurer Julian Casali, who nominated Church as president, said there were no gender politics involved.

“She is simply the best person for the job.”

Outgoing president Pierre van Nie-kerk welcomed Church to the podium, describing her as “a ball of energy. With her, things are no sooner said than done.”

Church is the fourth member of her family to serve as president of The Bedford Club. Her grandfather, Wilfred Mapham, was the earliest, followed eventually by her father, Rob Ainslie, and, more recently, her brother, Lochart Ainslie.

Church is a pharmacist and lived for many years in Cape Town. She and her husband, Michael, returned to the district six years ago and restored an abandoned Ainslie farmhouse in the Cowie Valley.

They were elected to the club committee almost immediately. They are both terrific hosts and accomplished foodies. These attributes along with business acumen have been invaluable to the club.

Church told Mid-Karoo Express that, during her two-year period of office, she hopes to increase membership and to build on the existing strengths of the club as an important meeting place where friends can get together, forget their troubles, relax and have fun.

The club is home base for the local bridge, tennis and bowling clubs and a festive steak evening is held once a month.

The trustees for the coming period are William Pringle and Lochart Ainslie. The committee includes Geoff Mack, Bryan Knox, Peter Freese, Sylvia Gaiser, Charles Brett and Bruce Pitt.

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