Overview - International Women's Day Boorowa - 12 March 2017

Boorowa International Women’s Day - Celebrates 11 Years! Sunday 12 March 2017
“Love, Loss and Loneliness”

Boorowa celebrated our 11th International Women’s Day last Sunday 12 March drawing a large crowd. A full day’s program was offered including morning, afternoon tea and lunch. We would like to acknowledge the Boorowa Ex-Services & Citizens Club for providing the venue, Richy Didge for the wonderful spread and flowers from Native Botanical. The theme this year was “Love, Loss and Loneliness”. This event has developed its own momentum over the eleven years it has been running and attracts women from a wide area. Not only Boorowa ladies attended but hospitality was extended to ladies travelling from as far as Cowra, Mandurama, Grenfell, Yass, Young, Harden, Ardlethan, Cootamundra, Goulburn, Bungendore, Sydney and Canberra.  

The International Women’s Day in Boorowa evolved in 2007 and the scene was set for what was to become an annual diary entry in the ladies’ calendar eleven years on! One of the important aspects of the day is the networking opportunity it provides for women in the district creating a safe environment often sharing personal stories and developing friendships.   

In past years the highlight of the day was the presentation of the Most Inspiring Woman of Boorowa Award. After ten years of celebrating this award it was decided to review our approach as all women are inspiring! This year the ladies had an opportunity on the day to tell us personally about their inspiring woman. Emcee Wendy Tuckerman acknowledged Marie-Louise Corkhill who was recently recognized as ACT Woman of the Year for her outstanding leadership and contribution to Canberra women and their families. Marie-Louise as Executive Director of Karinya House for over twenty-years, a tireless worker in the organization, from being its first staff member in 1997, and was instrumental in doubling the provision of services including a special Mother and Baby Unit.  Marie-Louise is an inspiration to many and the Boorowa community.  

The program was composed of four dynamic and inspirational speakers. 

Elissa Pirotta  – “Working in a Non-Traditional Trade and Surviving – 
Woman in a Man’s World”, Valetta Projects

Elissa grew up in Murrumbateman and Yass. She told us of her boarding school antics and how she avoided the weekend confinement of boarding school to work with her extended family in the plumbing and draining business. This led her on a career path she may never have anticipated. Having initially studying Interior Design for two years, she transferred to the trade of plumbing, an unlikely parallel and now proudly runs her own successful plumbing business whilst teaching the trade at CIT, and even finding time to study Vocational Education and Training to extend her already impressive list of achievements. Elissa was a breath of fresh air, with her down to earth, no nonsense attitude to life and working in the industry, she gave us an insight into a woman working in a non-traditional trade, arriving on a job site and what to expect as a female. She shared many humorous stories.  Her tomboy attitude growing up, her ability to “get in and have a go” has held her in good stead in what could sometimes be awkward situations. Elissa learnt to think smart and can match the best of them!  At a very early age she developed an important characteristic which she has continued to draw upon RESILIENCE!  This trait has helped her stay strong and puts life in perspective whilst facing constant challenges. Her passion for the industry, attention to detail and sheer determination was inspiring. Elissa encourages more women to take up trades.

Kelly Eastwood – “A Food Journey through Billionaires on the High Seas, to Reality Contestants and a Little Farm in Tilba”
TV Food Producer, Chef and Food Stylist

Kelly took the audience you on a food journey through billionaires on the high seas, to reality contestants and a little farm in Tilba. Kelly has always had an adventurous spirit and as soon as she was able took herself on her first adventure to outback Australia. This sowed the seed of what was to come. Kelly has had a life so foreign to many of us with all her adventures from outback Australia to billionaires and superyachts. She has travelled the globe extensively following her sense of adventure and passion for the food industry. Cooking for the rich and famous where the restraints of budgets were unheard of. She told how the demands of the job, long hours being on call 24/7 took its toll on her body and her life. 

In all her travels there were still elements of love, loss and loneliness. Finding and loosing love, extended periods of loneliness missing Australia and her family and having to make challenging life changing decisions. Learning to follow her gut instincts, although not always easy to do, and at times questioning her decision she followed her heart and her passion. Kelly told how on returning to Australia she had to reinvent herself still carrying a heavy heart of what she left behind, relationship, friends and the financial benefits yet she soldiered on. Meeting with a Careers Counsellor fate stepped in and by chance she found herself working in food media finding herself on such shows as “My Kitchen Rules”, “Better Homes and Gardens”, “Masterchef”, “Destination Flavour”, “The Great Australian Bake Off”,  “John Torode’s Australia” and finally, “River Cottage Australia.  She shared the many insights to reality television. Kelly then told how she set up a Cooking School for “River Cottage Australia” until recently, and is now in the throes of establishing into her own Cooking School and Deli in Bermagui.  How she has since found love again and is enjoying life back in Australia. Kelly was open and engaging enthralling the audience with her stories, sharing the many personal facets of what has been an extraordinary life. There has been plenty of love, loss and loneliness on the way, but her experiences have always come from following her heart and her passion. 

Ailsa Piper – “Grief – the Ultimate Makeover”
Writer, Director, Performer

Boorowa welcomed back the lovely Ailsa Piper. Ailsa gave a very raw and personal account of her life since the unexpected passing of her husband Peter from a brain hemorrhage, who she described as her “rock” and her “true north”. How when she visited Boorowa in 2014 she purchased a little grey dress and how that dress offered a sense of comfort to her in the many days following Peter’s death. Ailsa gave an honest account of coming to terms with grief and the term “widow” and “widower”.  She explained all the emotions that come with grief and losing a soulmate, how she punished herself for not being present at the time, feelings of guilt and complete heartache.  

Ailsa was overwhelmed with the generosity of people and little acts of kindness, she did not cook a meal for six months. She described her daily flower ritual, her mourning walks and what has helped her to carry on.  Although confronting Ailsa now finds comfort that Peter has “taken a great leap”. She emphasized the gift of listening and how sometimes words are not required just being present. Ailsa found it difficult to cope living in Melbourne with so many memories, and moved to Sydney and has found a new sense of community. Ailsa explained the process of elimination when leaving your roots. Ailsa told when the time was right how she said goodbye to that “little grey dress”.  

The audience were privileged to be included in what was a very personal space. Ailsa described how she felt safe in telling her story in Boorowa. Ailsa captivated the audience with her honesty and serenity. She connected with so many women in the room, there was not a dry eye. You could have heard a pin drop.

Sue Read – “Dealing with Challenging Life Experiences:  Finding Meaning through Loss”
Psychologist, Life Unlimited Psychology

Sue Read runs a practice called Life Unlimited Psychology. Sue spoke about emotional resilience and facing adversity and trauma. She explored the concept of resilience, our ability to “bounce back” and responding to challenging situations and emotions offering strategies. 

Sue has a zest for life and abounding energy in her presentation. She shared her own personal story of being an elite athlete and working towards her goals and aspirations from a young age, only to have that taken away from her due to illness at a pivotal point of her career.  She spoke about being responsive and adapting to change, dealing with loss and acceptance and the process involved. Sue told of how we push through sometimes not listening to our inner dialogue until it is too late. She emphasized our mind and body connection. Sue touched on psychology flexibility in order to adapt. How we need to be guided by our values, finding meaning and purpose in our lives. She spoke of self-compassion and the importance of looking after ourselves and our non-negotiable list.  

We would like to thank our sponsors for their continual support of International Women’s Day in Boorowa. We certainly could not hold this event without their support.    
Hilltops Council, Boorowa Community Bank, Boorowa Arts and Craft Co-op, Local Land Services South East, Country Women’s Association – Boorowa Branch, Boorowa Lions Club, Boorowa Community Landcare, Rotary Club of Boorowa and the Rural Women’s Network.  

We would like to acknowledge the Business Houses who took the opportunity to support the event.
Boorowa Pharmacy, Boorowa Classic Cuts, Vanity Hairport, Bliss Hair & Beauty, Nouvelle Beauty Care, Debs Remedial Massage and Natural Therapies, Three Wishes, Glenleigh Antiques, Louise’s Beauty & Spa and Walsh’s Country Kitchen, and Home Finch.

Once again, another successful day for the women of Boorowa and surrounding districts!
We thank everyone who made the effort to support this day.