Kim Painter, Joanne Reid, Liz Fairweather and Skye Sear at the Grafton Chamber of Commerce International Women's Day Champagne Breakfast.
Kim Painter, Joanne Reid, Liz Fairweather and Skye Sear at the Grafton Chamber of Commerce International Women's Day Champagne Breakfast.

Taking a moment to celebrate

IN BETWEEN stories of achievement, struggle, hope and confidence, one speaker seemed to sum it all up nicely.

“It’s just about coming together as like-minded, strong, capable, independent women – acknowledging that and enjoying each other’s company,” Chief Inspector Joanne Reid said.

Ms Reid cut to the heart of why the Clocktower Hotel in Grafton was packed for the International Women’s Day champagne breakfast yesterday as the Grafton Chamber of Commerce facilitated a celebration of women in the Clarence Valley.

Those in attendance heard from a panel of local women who had celebrated success and as the room hummed after the end of the official proceedings, co-ordinator Natasha Watkinson was delighted.

“To see a number of women still here mingling, talking and sharing experiences this was what it was all about,” she said.

“It went a lot better than I ever imagined it would. The way the women we invited to speak here this morning just opened up and were vulnerable and just shared raw experience.

“Immediately everybody stopped and related to that.”

Ms Watkinson hoped it became an event everyone could look forward to each year and was especially happy to see a few younger faces in the crowd – two Clarence Valley Anglican School students.

“When the panellists were sharing their stories I looked up at one point and looked to the girls at the back and thought ‘girls, I really hope you are taking this on board’,” she said.

“Because I immediately went back to some of my own experiences and I felt like I wish I had a strong woman who said those words to me – to just be brave, back yourself, those sorts of things.”

Kylie Pearson addresses the Grafton Chamber of Commerce International Women's Day Champagne Breakfast.
Kylie Pearson addresses the Grafton Chamber of Commerce International Women's Day Champagne Breakfast.

It was clear the messages had resonated with the young women as Eden Annesley and Georgina Munro, from Clarence Valley Anglican School, discussed what each had taken away from the morning.

Ms Munro said she often said no to events like the breakfast but wanted to get out of her comfort zone, something Skye Sear, one of the panellists, had discussed as well.

The Year 12 student said she better understood the importance of taking care of yourself and understanding it was okay to make mistakes.

“Just to back yourself and in whatever you do, to believe in yourself – you have the opportunity to do it so why not make the most of it and back yourself.”

And Ms Annesley felt lucky to be growing up in a time where women had more options.

“Now we are able to experiment more and rise to positions of leadership,” she said.

“I feel really lucky that today we can do anything we like.”



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