Bev Lawson

Bev Lawson & John Avery

The Illawarra Police Charity Ball began with one woman's vision

Photo Gallery

Relive the excitement of the momentous occasion through these carefully curated photographs that showcase the energy and passion of everyone involved. Take a look back at unforgettable moments, heartfelt speeches, and memorable performances.

The Illawarra Police Charity Ball began with one woman's vision

In 1985, then-sergeant Beverley Lawson, of the Wollongong Patrol, wanted to hold a function that would see local police and the community come together for a fun and social evening. The central purpose of this function however, would be to raise much needed money to support local charities. The first charity ball was held on Friday, August 1, 1986, at The Fraternity Club, Fairy Meadow, with 200 people in attendance. Raffle prizes included a $1000 travel voucher from Ansett, a microwave oven and $200 worth of house paint. Guests were entertained by Con and the Latin Beats. Importantly, proceeds from the night aided the Bulli Hospital palliative care ward and the Wollongong Cancer Awareness Support Group. Both causes were close to Bev's heart, she being a cancer survivor who, at the time, had six months left to complete of a five-year remission. But she said the charities were chosen to coincide with Cancer Awareness Year, not because of her personal experience.

''When we were considering these options, I thought about people having to travel to Sydney daily for their treatment; I really don't know how some of them get up there, or more specifically how they cope,'' she said at the time.

''We would like to make the ball an annual charity event and if there are charity groups in the area who would like to be considered, we would be pleased to hear from them,'' she added. In 1996, Bev Lawson became the first female Deputy Commissioner of NSW. At the time of her death from a stroke in January 1998, aged 57, she was Australia's highest-ranking female police officer, reaching Deputy Commissioner, and someone of whom the Police Service of NSW was immensely proud. Bev Lawson and her family were strong supporters of the charity ball, even as she rose through the ranks of the NSW Police Force. Her vision of a community working together to benefit those in need still remains strong and has been adopted by the current committee.

Today, the ball has established itself as a great value for money night out, and a must attend social event in the Illawarra.