Challis Hooper was the bundle of energy and ball of fire that made her famous throughout BPWNZ and IFBPW even in her eighties. She lived with her widowed sister in Lower Hutt before her failing health saw her move into care for the last few years of her life.
Challis was formerly the right hand person for the Doctor who started the children’s health and nursing service before the second world war ?????????, as well as chief nurse at the enormous Dental School in Upper Willis Street in Wellington. In the 70’s her name was spoken with awe around this very political city for the work she had done for children’s health over the years.
A tiny person in stature she made up for this with her witty intellect and her sense of the ridiculous. She was opinionated, always right and great company at all times. Like many of her friends and colleagues in BPW she never married and was surrounded by adoring family and friends most of her life.
In the days when travel was expensive and took a great deal of time Challis represented BPW NZ at International Conferences and believed that all women should look to the future when the world would be truly international and women would need to run to keep up with the changes and then begin to lead that future.
She believed in the purposes of NZFBPW a specifically ‘to promote honest and impartial study of the affairs of the day’, with an increasing emphasis on ‘to encourage women to take a more adequate part in community life and in promoting Christian standards of National and International Life’. Her raison d’être was that this would lead to more active intervention in public questions and affairs, more positive leadership in selected civic and national activities and she truly believed in partnership at all levels of BPW.
She was a post World War II National President,1952 – 1956, having been the Wellington Club President from 1941 and 1942 jointly with Mary Campbell. I believe that she had been a BPW Wellington Club member since the Club’s inception in 1932.
Challis was the driving force behind much of the very public activities of the Club, Anti Nuclear Public Meeting, Women on Juries and much more besides.