OVER a hundred local residents and businesses turned out to celebrate International Women’s Day at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens on 8 March, 2019.
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Balance For Better was the theme for the breakfast event, hosted by Kate Washington MP and Meryl Swanson MP.
Now in its second year, the event included market stalls showcasing businesses owned by local women, speeches by school leaders, and an award ceremony.
School leaders from Tomaree High School, Irrawang High School and Hunter River High School were invited by Ms Washington and Ms Swanson to share their thoughts and aspirations as young women in Port Stephens.
Ms Washington said, “It was terrific to once again host the International Women’s Day Breakfast with my good friend, Meryl Swanson.”
“Once again, the young women student leaders from all of our public high schools, shone.”
The awards ceremony saw Ms Coral Kearins announced as Port Stephens Woman of the Year in recognition of her outstanding work at the Boat Harbour Recreation Club implementing a tennis programme that has seen cultural change and huge benefits to the students of the area.
Coral Kearins is known as a tireless volunteer, advocate and organiser for her community in Boat Harbour.
Ms Kate Washington said, “Coral’s ongoing work to promote better local facilities, and greater accessibility within our community, is highly valued.”
“Coral has a deep sense of community spirit and she is certainly worthy of this honour.”
“I’m pleased to be able to acknowledge her years of hard work and commitment to Port Stephens.”
Coral is also involved in a push for the creation of an All Abilities Playground in Port Stephens to support children with a disability and their families.
International Women’s Day has been celebrated for well over a century, and is designed to celebrate the achievements of women while also striving for equality.
At the breakfast and holding a stall was local historian and author, Mrs Yvonne Fletcher, who has written about strong women.
Her most famous book, co-authored with Mr John Gillam, “You Can’t Fight, You’re A Girl” tells the story of Hunter local, Maud Butler who at the young age of 14 stowed away on a ship bound for Europe to fight in World War I.
Mrs Fletcher said, “Maud wanted what many women sought at the time, and still do now: equality and to be treated the same as men.”
“Her story is one of an inspiring and courageous young woman who fought passionately for her ideals.”
All proceeds from the breakfast went to support the work of the Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services and the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens.
By Liz MUDD