Celebrating Rural Women at Deepwater ‘Winter Warmers’ Day

Dressed in their most vibrant colours, over 100 women gathered at Deepwater Hall for a ‘winter warmer’ day on Friday, June 16.

“This is a fantastic event, and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Jessica Towns, runner up of The Land Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman program. Jessica was just one of nearly 20 speakers on the day, sharing their stories of hope and perseverance, and providing health education and information on local services.

Hosted by HealthWISE in collaboration with chair of the 2022 NSW Rural Women’s Network Gathering Mary Hollingworth and the Deepwater Hall Trust Committee, attendees also enjoyed exploring stalls featuring work from local artisans and music from ‘Goldheist’ singer Hester Fraser.

Jessica spoke on her passion for rural life and efforts to attract and retain young professionals in Moree as part of the local Young Aggies Committee.

“I wanted to show people how great it is to live in a rural community, how great the sporting teams are, how great the art galleries are,” she said. “Rural women are some of the most strong, independent, empowering women that I have ever met in my life.”

The event speakers: (Back) Christine Davis, Susie O’Neil, Jessica Towns, Anna Barwick, Belinda Hook, Kathy Wicks, Brenda Stace, Barb East, Catherine Spora, Vicky Brandy. (Front) Anne Starr, Mary Hollingworth, Letecia Kearney, Shyanne Sturtridge, Kerry Strong, Sue Manttan, Chris Connor and Kate Arndell.

Pharmacist and NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year Anna Barwick encouraged the women to be proactive in their communities.

“I want to challenge you to inspire and grow – no matter how many years you’ve been on this planet, whether it’s short or long. I think there’s many things we can all do in our lives to improve our health, improve our mental health and improve our community,” she said.

Shyanne Sturtridge shared her story of turning challenges into triumphs. Shyanne faced an unstable home life, completed her high school certificate in the height of the pandemic and dealt with the threat of drought on a rural property.

“It started to feel like there was no out. Then the bushfires started to appear. Everyday we would see that they were getting bigger and closer to our property… wondering whether today was the day an ember would light up in one of our paddocks,” she said. Despite these obstacles, Shyanne has excelled in her studies and is in her final year of a nursing degree. She says she wouldn’t change her life “for the world”.

Attendees enjoyed a warm lunch and received prizes for their vivid outfits. The day ended with laughter as HealthWISE primary health care nurse Chris Connor and Belinda Hook from BreastScreen NSW looked at the humorous side of breast checks.

The event was an initiative of the HealthWISE Recover, Adapt, Connect program, which is an Australian Government funded initiative to support communities and individuals who have been affected by the Black Summer bushfires. It featured several local service providers and makers, and HealthWISE nurses gave health checks on the day.

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