Pauline Edwards says
It is so hard to believe that it is 35 years since, as a very new Member of BPW Wellington, New Zealand, I travelled to Montreux in Switzerland to attend the 50th Golden Jubilee Conference of BPW I. I had been a member of BPW Wellington Club for a very short time (less than a year) and to attend the meetings I needed to work in London and Birmingham for a couple of weeks – at the BBC for my organisation, Television One. I was the Training Officer for Television One and TV2 and needed to learn about Television Development from my opposite numbers at the BBC This also gave me the requisite time to have enough leave to be in Montreux for the week of The Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of the World ‘Golden Jubilee Congress’.
I paid for my flights and accommodation and so of course TV was happy for me to go! I was part of a huge team of BPW New Zealanders (25+ if I remember rightly and some very helpful husbands too) and because I was not a delegate but knew how to use a real stop-watch (first go out and buy a couple of stopwatches for IFBPW) I became Madam Time Keeper, telling International Officers and delegates that they had run out of time when they attempted to continue well beyond their allotted times and staring down at this huge number (500+ I believe) of women from throughout the world, some there under immense duress – like the women from Argentina whose husbands were under house arrest whilst their wives were away to assure their Government their wives would return – scary – remember Don’t Cry for Me Argentina!
Perhaps by now we should have had a reunion of those New Zealanders who went as well as the husbands who were the gophers and supporters of all the New Zealand delegates. It felt as if we were at one of our own Conferences I paid my way for travel, attendance fees and accommodation, as did all the New Zealand delegates and attendees, with the first three New Zealand delegate Officers having their entry fees paid as our official delegates – I remember it being a huge amount of money for BPWNZ to pay.
The weather was great whilst we were in Switzerland. I was staying about 5 kilometres away to save money and I walked to the Congress venue every day along the side of Lac Le Man – to you Lake Geneva – in the bright but cold early morning sunshine for about 40 minutes in each direction! I remember the National President and Vice resident stayed in a Sanitarium way up a cliff face in the same direction around the Lake!
Perhaps what our members need to know was that in those days communication was by postal letter, telegram and telephone – no email – and telegrams were expensive and hand delivered!It was fun, a marvelous learning curve and an opportunity not to be missed. I have been a member of BPWNZ ever since and if now at the age of 66 somewhat elderly in terms of our membership and now classified as a Fellow of BPWNZ. Montreux was immense fun and made my simple commitment to BPWNZ even stronger and it was with immense sadness that I could not attend the Regional Conference in Auckland this year because I was in Christchurch, house and menagerie sitting for my Guardians children (read adults with their two children) whilst they took a quick hike back to the UK to visit their now very elderly parents/grandparents and to introduce their children to their Grandparents.
I tried the flying in and out visit for the day stuff to Auckland but had to be gone for 24 to 36 hours and that did not work for the dogs, cat and rabbit at all.
So when ever any of you are considering attending Conference or Congress remember it will be fun, the overseas people you meet will be memorable and interesting and your commitment to BPWNZ will be even stronger And I will now take my influenza back to bed yours with coughs and sneezes Pauline Edwards BPWNZ Fellow
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