Membership: 1986 to present
Club Newsletter: 12 years
Life Member: 1996
Professional & Personal Insight:
- Heather Roberts-Thomson and her husband John live in Hawera.
Heather Roberts-Thomson – Her Story:
In celebration of the 70th anniversary of BPW New Zealand, BPW Hawera spoke with foundational and life member – Heather Roberts-Thomson (pictured) about her involvement in the club. Here’s what she said.
Of the first meeting in June 1986, Heather recalled, “It was called by Beverley Sturgeon and at the instigation of Diana O’Brien. We had quite a large number – about thirty people – show up. Like me, most of them were teachers.”
”We weren’t particularly interested in other women’s groups. We saw ourselves as professionals and we wanted to do professional things. The professional in business and professional women was very important to us. For us, the network with other clubs and guest speakers made BPW a stimulating environment and it broadened our horizons.”
“There were no cakes to make – no fundraising,” she added with a smile.
From that first meeting, the club started with 20 members and it grew to 40 and then, Heather says, “it dropped down quite low. One of the challenges for us as a club was that we never really had a strong base of people to draw on because they would move to another place – and that was particularly the case with teachers.”
“Then – about 1994 – Sheryl Wallis came along.” Sheryl, who is a business woman herself, set out to attract other business women to the club and she did.
“That we have more business women is one of the biggest changes I’ve seen for BPW Hawera. The other is that the members are getting younger. But,” says Heather, “this is really an indication of the changes in our society. More women are working because there is more choice for them and in what they can do. For some women, it’s because of their financial situation and they need to work.”
Something that Heather noted with pride is that the club has always and is still hosting the candidate evenings for both general and local body elections. Another long-time initiative is the Second Chance Education Grant. Heather would certainly like to see them continue.
For the future, Heather believes that there will always be a place for BPW. She says that its international connections and contributions to policy raises people’s sights and broadens their horizons. For Heather, BPW is a place for business and professional women.
Since that first meeting in 1986, Heather has held the positions of President and Secretary for BPW Hawera. She also produced the club’s newsletter for 12 years.
In 1996, the then President Sheryl Wallis was successful in nominating Heather for a life membership in recognition of her contribution to the club. Heather is highly regarded amongst longer serving club members, noted for her particular skills in administering the meeting process.