Searcy breaks new ground as Carbine Club’s first female chair
Once an exclusive, male-only bastion for businessmen who liked a long lunch to help charity, the Carbine Club of NSW has elected television presenter Caroline Searcy as its first female chair after 44 years.
The club was formed in Sydney in 1977 and admitted its first female members in 2003, when sporting greats Liz Ellis and Gai Waterhouse joined.
Caroline Searcy has become the first female chair of a Carbine Club in the world.Credit:Rhett Wyman
Ms Searcy, who has been a television presenter for three decades, will lead the Carbine Club of NSW for two years, following the likes of former chairmen Richard Colless, Jamie Barkley and Michael Crismale.
There are 15 Carbine Clubs in Australia and several overseas, including in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. Ms Searcy is the first female chair of a Carbine anywhere in the world. The club’s lunches have raised millions of dollars for junior sporting organisations across the decades.
“Being elected as chair of the Carbine Club of NSW fills me with a feeling of enormous pride and honour,” Ms Searcy said. “It’s a very exclusive club but it has always been very inclusive.
“I have only positive things to say about the warmth and genuine support I have received from the Carbine Club membership over the years and humbled to take this role.
“The club has always had junior sport at its heart and I want to see that work continue.”
Ms Searcy was given a statue of Carbine, the 1890 Melbourne Cup winner from which the club takes its name, when accepting the role of NSW chair on Thursday.
The NSW chapter has been one of the more progressive Carbines, having been the first to ditch the sexist policy of not admitting women, and having appointed Ms Searcy as the first female board member of a Carbine Club in 2014.
The foundation club in Melbourne, which was formed in 1961, did not admit women as members until 2016. It was forced into the change after AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan publicly threatened to not attend the Carbine Club’s AFL grand final lunch due to the policy.
“I look back at the great history of this club, a global club with wonderful interstate affiliates around Australia and a huge Carbine presence in major cities right around the world,” Ms Searcy said.
“When I look at that history, I am awestruck to have been so fortunate to attend and host so many Carbine Club functions over the years rubbing shoulders with some of the most incredible sporting achievers in the history of our great country.”
Ms Searcy is aiming to extend the club’s lunches after they didn’t occur in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. “Everyone is welcome at our larger functions, and we encourage people to take tables and bring guests,” she said.
“I will never cease to be excited by our lunches and the more we fill the functions the greater the return to junior sporting clubs in NSW.”
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