Perth’s Old Girls Network Events Spark Memories and Connections

Published February 19, 2024

L to R: Heather Curley, Anne Abbott, Blanche Lusty, Juliet Brewer, Pru Smith and Margaret Shorter.

Thanks to the efforts of our passionate Local Co-ordinator, Margaret Shorter, Old Girls of all ages enjoy regular meet ups in beautiful Western Australia, including an event coming up in March.

Margaret ‘Marg’ Shorter (nee Hartnell) has a dozen enthusiastic Old Girls on her current Perth-based list and is keen to grow this number.

“Our group is so much fun – I know that we all get a lot of value from our gatherings,” says Margaret, from her warm Western Australia home.

Margaret, who graduated in 1964, is currently organising an OGA evening in March this year and is enthused about the interest from Australia-based Old Girls so far. She loves how varied everyone’s background and interest are, as well as the broad age range of the women involved, which leads to stimulating conversations.

“A couple of the girls have retired from work, many work in very interesting roles and sectors, and one was pregnant last year – so there was a lot to chat about!” says Margaret.

Over the years, some have moved away and a few more have taken their place on her list, “It’s always evolving, which makes it vibrant,” she says.

One of the OGA attendees this year will be Georgia Manning (1992 graduate), who has over 25 years’ experience leading mining and infrastructure projects in both Australia and New Zealand.

Having a career in a traditionally male dominated industry, and now with a senior leadership position at BHP, Georgia understands the value of women supporting women, “I’m often inspired by the varied, dynamic lives of other Old Girls across Australia, so keeping up these connections is really meaningful to me,” says Georgia, “also, being so far away from New Zealand, it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Kiwis.”

Georgia’s niece, Olivia Andrews (Year 8) also attends St Cuthbert’s, so there’s still a close family link for her.

Much like Georgia, Margaret’s interest in maintaining this special network is in-part due to intergenerational ties. Her mother (Margaret “Peggy” Message) was also an Old Girl.

Margaret has attended OGA catch-ups for many years, often making a huge effort to travel over the Tasman.

“Originally, it was my year group (1962-1964) who used to meet every five years in Auckland,” describes Margaret, “it was worth it to come over from Perth for these reunions!”

It was here that an idea for a Perth group began to flourish. “At one of these events, I asked the organisers if they knew of any other Old Girls living in Perth. I was surprised when I was sent a list of a dozen names. So, I started the group in 2009 and here we are today, still going strong!”

Margaret flew over for Centenary Anniversary celebrations in 2015, and also to attend our Club 50 event, which honours a special group of Old Girls who left St Cuthbert’s over 50 years ago. Every three years there’s a ceremony to present new members with a Club 50 badge,“I was presented with mine, which was a wonderful honour!” she says.

Margaret is excited for her next OGA event at a lovely restaurant called Rambla on Swan, on 20 March.

“I’ve chosen the venue as it is overlooking the Swan River on the South Perth Esplanade, with uninterrupted views of Perth city skyline. The city looks magnificent at night!”

We look forward to hearing all about it.