AmbulanceEmergency ServicesNotable PeoplePeople

Ethel Collett and the Rosewood Ambulance

Rosewood Ambulance Centre and Superintendent’s House (possibly 1950’s) with Gordon Yarrow and unknown in front. Supplied by Craig Wass.

In May 1922 a public meeting was held in the School of Arts Rosewood to discuss the proposal to establish a branch of the QATB in the town.

Leila Maude Collett was born at Rosewood on 9th August 1920, another daughter of William Henry and Ethel Collett.  (They had six daughters in total.) Tragically, she was only three years and four days old when she perished in a terrifying house fire in John Street Rosewood.  That terrible event was reported in the Queensland Times, Ipswich edition, on Wednesday 15th August 1923, as re-produced below.  The death of her baby spurred Ethel Collett into raising money for an ambulance centre in Rosewood.

A sad fatality occurred at Rosewood last night, when Leila Maud Collett the three-year-old child of Mr and Mrs Henry Collett, was the victim of a fatal burning accident.  The mother had put the child safely to bed in the front bedroom of the house, the lamp light was turned down.  About 8.30 she was ironing in the rear of the shop, which adjoins the residence.  Hearing a cry, she sent one of the children in to see if the baby was all right.  The child ran out screaming, and the mother, on reaching the room, was horrified to find the bed, in which she had placed the child, was in flames.  She rescued her little child from the flames and, although severely burnt herself, carried the child from the room.  The screams of the unfortunate child, and the glare of fire, had attracted the attention of the neighbours.  Dr Wallace, who was living opposite, and the two local chemists were immediately on the scene.  The child was found to be very badly burnt.  Everything possible was done by those present to alleviate its suffering.  At 11.30 p.m. it was conveyed by car to the Ipswich Hospital.  She died at 2 a.m. this morning.  The fire in the house had meanwhile been extinguished by other workers.  The origin of the fire is attributed to the bursting of the lamp, which stood on the duchess, through which the curtains were evidently ignited.  Very great sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents in the sad loss of their child.”

Ethel Collett spent many years fundraising for an ambulance centre in Rosewood with numerous dances, balls and other events such as this one from ROSEWOOD DISTRICT (1937, August 18). Queensland Times (Ipswich, Qld. : 1909 – 1954), p. 12 (DAILY.).  from


ROSEWOOD DISTRICT ASHWELL. Tuesday. Ambulance Social. – A successful dance in aid of the Ipswich Ambulance was held in the Ashwell School. The function was organised by Mrs. H. Collett, of Rosewood, assisted by Bearer Noble, of the Ipswich Centre. Winners of the free spot waltz were Mrs. L. Jacobs aid Mr. P. Freeman. Miss M. Edwards and Mr. C. Waters won the Monte Carlo waltz. Competitions were won by Miss D. Greet, Mr. Jim Brown, and Mr. Stan Koch. Music was supplied by Mr. A. Anderson, and Mr. W. Greet was M.C. Mrs. Collett was able to hand over £11/1/ to the Ambulance Superintendent as the proceeds.



Finally, after many years of fundraising the plans were approved in 1947.

Queensland Times (Ipswich, Qld. : 1909 – 1954), Thursday 4 December 1947, page 6
“PLANS APPROVED FOR ROSEWOOD AMBULANCE ROSIWOOD, December 3.-At a combined meeting of the Ipswich Committee of the Q.A.T.B. and the Rosewood Sob-centre Committee. plans for the new Rosewood residence and station were adopted, subject to an alteration to the front of the station. Ipswich members present were: The Chairman (Cr. F. Elson), Ald. H. O’ Dick, Messrs. R. Watt. and E. Donaghey, and the Superintendent (Mr D. Miller). Rosewood committeemen who attended were: The Chairman (Mr. F. Gunthorpe), Messrs. E. Boughen and A. Shearer. Mrs. H. Collett. and the Secretary (Mr. L. Schumann). Cr. Elson reported on negotiations in connection with the purchase of land for the centre. It was decided that the residence and station be two separate buildings. Mr. Mr. Watt gave an interesting statement on the finance required and the amount collected in the Rosewood area over the last 16 months. All present agreed that the amount could be substantially improved. It was decided to put down test holes to decide on the type of foundation required for the buildings.”

In 1948, following the preparation of plans and specifications, tenders were invited for the erection of a Sub-Centre building and a residence for the Officer-in-Charge. Long delays occurred through shortages of materials and the financial position of the builder.

The buildings were finally completed and handed over in February 1951. A public meeting was held in the Majestic Theatre, Rosewood on Wednesday, 21 February 1951 for the purpose of deciding whether the Rosewood service be opened as a sub-centre of Ipswich or as an independent centre. The Rosewood Ambulance opened in 1951 as a fully-fledged, self-supporting venture.

The first appointed Superintendent and Secretary was Fred Barram who was at the centre until his unexpected death in 1961. Ambulance Officer Selwyn Jones of the Ipswich Centre was then appointed Superintendent and Secretary and served in these positions until his retirement in 1980. (QATB-Rosewood.pdf (

We owe so much to the hard work of Ethel Collett and all that she did to help raise the money for this important service in our town and from this article in 1951, we can see how much the town appreciated her dedication.

Queensland Times (Ipswich, Qld. : 1909 – 1954), Saturday 22 December 1951, page 2
“ROSEWOOD Q.A.T.B. Presentation to Mrs. E. L. Collett ROSEWOOD, Dec. 21~-At a Rosewood Ambulance Committee gathering in the brigade rooms a presentation was made to Mrs. E. L. Collett in appreciation of her 26 years of assistance in collecting and raising funds for the ambulance. Mrs. Collett, well known throughout the Rosewood district as either “Mum” or “Ma” Collett, took the opportunity to collect at local shows, sports meetings, and other gatherings for the furtherance of ambulance work. In 1947 the QA.T.B. presented Mrs. Collett with a framed medallion in appreciation of her 22 years of service. The Deputy Chairman of the committee (Mr. J. Reid), on behalf of the committee, presented a silver teapot to Mrs. Collett, who returned thanks.”

News article on the opening of the new ambulance in 1951 with photograph.

Compiled by Jenny Stubbs


One comment

  1. Interesting reading! A lot of small country towns owe a lot to their hard working volunteers ,especially in fundraising for projects like an ambulance station!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.