Influential women of the Derwent Valley acknowledged

AN honour roll of Influential Women of the Derwent Valley has been established by the Derwent Valley International Women’s Day Group. The inaugural list was announced at yesterday’s International Women’s Day breakfast at the Lions Club of New Norfolk.

Announcing the inaugural list of more than 80 names, Julie Triffett said the organisers acknowledged all women of the Derwent Valley, “from the women who moved their family to the hopgrounds and smallfruit farms to earn money for books and uniforms to send their children to school; the gardeners who grew the food for their families; and those women who nurtured good citizens; to the women who served in the land army in Tasmania, who were employed at the Peg Factory, Willow Court, Cottage Hospital, or as sales assistants, teachers and administrative staff,” Mrs Trifffett said.

“Some names you will recognise, others maybe not, some you might agree with, others not,” she said. “This list has been compiled by consideration of each woman’s contribution to the community and the world, rather on the basis of popularity. These are all women who were born in or lived in the Derwent Valley and have influenced people and communities in our Valley, Australia or internationally. They may have excelled in community service. standing for and with our families, organisations and communities. They may have influenced the hearts and minds of our children through teaching and working in our schools. They may have operated businesses that contributed to the Valley’s economy. They may have served our country in the darkest of times. They may have nurtured and cared for others in times of illness.

“There are so many ways that women have influenced life in the Derwent Valley both in the past and now. This list is the beginning of recognising the achievements of women in the Derwent Valley. It was not possible to list all of each woman’s achievements as there are many facets to every woman. The list is open-ended and if you feel that someone has been omitted, and you want them to be included, or you want your name to be deleted, please contact a Derwent Valley International Women’s Day group member. The list will be reviewed and expanded prior to International Women’s Day each year. There are tentative plans for an e-book in the future. Obviously, much research will have to be done, and permissions sought, to do justice to the women listed,” Mrs Triffett said.

Sarah Anson: New Norfolk businesswoman, licensee of the Derwent Hotel from 1840-41.
Betty Beament: Leader, Girl Guides; advocate and volunteer for Molesworth Community Hall.
Jewel Beresford: Gemmologist, instrumental nationally in the training of gemmologists.
Meg Bignell: Author, Welcome to Nowhere River, The Angry Womens’ Choir and The Sparkle Pages
Mary Binks: Former Mayor of Devonport, National Council of Women.
Ruth Binny: Educator, local historian, Derwent Valley Historical Information Centre
Margaret Bird OAM: Educator; advocate for women’s rights through Zonta International; Tasmanian Council for the Ageing.
Anne Bridger: New Norfolk businesswoman, first licensee of the Bush Inn Hotel, 1825.
Judy Bromfield OAM: Educator and long-serving New Norfolk/Derwent Valley Councillor.
Jackie Brown: Educator, 1995 Rural Woman of the Year
Zelda Browning: Teacher assistant for 40 years at Westerway Primary School.
Anne Burns: Volunteer and president of the New Norfolk Junior Football Club.
Mona Cannan: Educator, local historian.
Fiona Cardwell: Businesswoman, former Lions Club of New Norfolk President, long term volunteer.
Sandra Carmichael: First female president, Lions Club of New Norfolk; Director of Nursing at Corumbene Care.
Dorothy Cawthorn: New Norfolk businesswoman 1960s-70s,
Sally Coleman: President, New Norfolk District Football Club.
Gwen Cooper: Director of Nursing at the New Norfolk District Hospital.
Jessica Cosgrove: First female deputy mayor and acting mayor, Derwent Valley Council.
Di Cowburn: Educator and local historian.
Rita Cox: Local Historian and author.
Naree Crane: Director of Nursing at Corumbene Care.
Hilary Craw: New Norfolk businesswoman; Derwent Valley councillor; local historian.
Geraldine Davis OAM: Nurse, sporting shooter and community worker.
Severine Demanet: New Norfolk businesswoman, co-owner of award-winning restaurant.
Liz Derksen: New Norfolk businesswoman.
Sister Nora Donnelly: Catholic Sister at St Brigid’s Catholic School and St Peter’s Catholic Church.
Gwen Doolan: Nursing Administrator, Royal Derwent Hospital.
Michelle Dracoulis: First female mayor of the Derwent Valley Council.
Patsy Duggan: Educator, St Brigid’s Catholic School
Dana Faletic: 2004 and 2012 Olympian, rowing; women’s advocate.
Sue Farley: Educator and community volunteer; Vinnies; Derwent Valley Rotary Club.
Dr Karla Fenton OAM: Psychiatrist who completed 61 years in medical practice before retiring in June 2016.
Kathy Foster: Educator and 1984 Olympian (basketball).
Sheila Fuller: Night Supervisor at Royal Derwent Hospital.
Dulcie Fyle OAM: Businesswoman, florist; fundraiser for children with disabilities.
Marg Gaby: First female president of the New Norfolk District Football Club
Nellie Gilbert: Educator at Moogara, Lachlan and New Norfolk State Schools
Pat Gillhesphey: Community volunteer; Treasurer, Maydena Community Association.
Ngaire Glover: Justice of the Peace, joint initiator of the Derwent Valley Online Access Centre and long-term volunteer.
Mavis Godfrey: Australian Olympic Support team in the 1960s.
Betty Godfrey: First editor of the Derwent Gazette (1953) and the Derwent Valley and Moonah News (1954).
Mollie Goss: New Norfolk businesswoman
Pat Green: Educator, St Brigid’s Catholic School.
Rosina Hall: Owner of the Plaza Cinema, New Norfolk.
Celia Hooker: Nurse, Minister with the Anglican Church.
Kerry Hore: National and world rowing champion and first female rower to compete at four Olympic Games.
Betty Howell: Editor of the Derwent Valley Gazette from 1954-69.
Nora Johnson: Nursing Administrator, Royal Derwent Hospital.
Wilhelmina Jeffery: Artist (late 1800s) specialising in Tasmanian ornithology and flora.
Kerry Kievit: President, Lions Club of New Norfolk, Derwent Valley Council co–citizen of the year 2022.
Betty King: First white woman to set foot in Australia (1788), and last surviving female from the First Fleet (died 1856)
Muriel Knight: Speech Pathologist at Royal Derwent Hospital.
Rebecca Lynd: 2017 Rural Woman of the Year; Businesswoman, Three Valleys Food.
Margaret McMaster: Long-serving member of Corumbene Care/New Norfolk Hospital auxiliaries.
Kaye Menzie: Justice of the Peace; Co-ordinator of Visitor Information Centre.
Bridget Mulligan: New Norfolk businesswoman in the 1850s.
Sister Jane Murphy: Matron at New Norfolk District Hospital
Grace Pearcey: Long-term volunteer, Lions Club of New Norfolk, Ladies Auxilliary.
Belle Pearson: Educator; joint founder of Derwent Valley Concert Band.
Eileen Pegler: Matron, Royal Derwent Hospital, World War II veteran.
Lyn Plunkett: Minister with the Anglican Church
Stella Potter: New Norfolk businesswoman, children’s wear, 1970s; Volunteer with Zonta Interational.
Rachel Power: Derwent Valley tourism businesswoman.
June Purkiss: Nursing administrator, Royal Derwent Hospital; New Norfolk Concert Band librarian.
Edna “Gillem” Reid: Artist; Adult Education lecturer; mural painter; member of the Derwent Valley Regional Arts.
Dorothy Robinson OAM: First female Councillor with the then New Norfolk Council; businesswoman, florist; local historian and author.
Nicky Rouleston: New Norfolk businesswoman and mentor.
Anne Salt: Educator, and community volunteer recognized for her work with 26Ten.
Judith Sweet: Author; columnist; television cook; convenor of Slow Food Tasmania.
Brenda Triffitt: Educator; gardener; community volunteer.
Jacqui Triffitt: Psychologist, sportsperson, author of On the Front Foot: The Rise of Tasmanian Women’s Cricket
Toni Tucker: Advocate, Share the Dignity representative in the Derwent Valley.
Sue Urbanc: Artist; social worker; member of Derwent Valley Regional Arts.
Carol Volant: Nurse; Matron at Corumbene; first Co-ordinator of Children’s Services in the Derwent Valley; long-time volunteer.
Thelma Vollprecht OAM: Nurse and fundraiser for children with disabilities.
Caroline Walker: First female general manager of the New Norfolk District Football Club.
Professor Kate Warner AC: University law professor; first female Governor of Tasmania.
Fiona Weaver: Derwent Valley tourism businesswoman.
Jacky Whitehead: Former Derwent Valley Councillor; Norfolk and Norwich World Family representative.
Lola Wilton: Long-term volunteer, Lions Club of New Norfolk Ladies Auxilliary.
Sally Wise OAM: 2019 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year; author and cook.

Who would you add to the list? Send your suggestions as a comment below.


    1. Sandra Hetherington!

      Quiet achiever, massive input into our community + Norske Skog Vision Team.

  1. Deb Rose
    cheeky little place.
    Amazing, kind, generous, successful business woman and mother. Her hard work and generosity to community members goes un-noticed as she does not advertise the free food and drinks that she hands out daily to those less fortunate than others in our community.
    Through her own trials and tribulations she has never faulted in her generosity and friendship to all who grace her doors at cheeky little place.

  2. ELLEN CLARK AND ANN WHITTLE Both Chaplains at Schools in the Central Highlands and the Derwent Valley. ELLEN CLARK has done so much community work and voluntary work for the Central Highlands over many many years. AS ANN WHITTLE has also done so much community work for the the Derwent Valley

  3. Jane Hodgetts. Manager of the New Norfolk Library. A quiet achiever but INCREDIBLY supportive and influential in literacy in the Derwent Valley throughout the 1980s/1990s. Constantly engaging school children with readings, displays, and performances at the library – while supporting local organisations and groups such as the Derwent Valley Concert Band. Also a highly skilled and committed archivist who has contributed much to recording the local history of the valley.

  4. I believe Sandra Hethering and Jan Simpson should list. Sandra tirelessly for the community and doesn’t expect any recognition for her work . Jan Simpson spent 22 year working with her husband and the Dragon car for Variety.

  5. Clare Lee. Business woman, active Soroptomist member. Her great grandmother came from England with a 10 month old baby on the Schomberg and survived being shipwrecked off the coast of Victoria and started her own business in New Norfolk. Her son took over and started J.F. Lee and son on corner of High St and Burnett St.

  6. Sandra Hetherington for the tireless volunteer works she does including Relay for Life (Derwent Valley) organiser. She is part of the committee that looks after the Frascartti Garden. She is part of a fundraising committee that raises money for worthy causes via her work place. She has been honoured by the D V Council in the past by being named Australia Day Citizen of the year. She is a quite achiever with a big caring heart.

  7. Valmai Hollis ( Gilbert) has given many years of service to local St Johns Ambulance in the past as well as her support for the Methodist Church – she is now a resident at Corumbene
    Mavis Beattie for the service to education , the Maydena Community and her involvement with NN Garden Clubs

  8. Also worthy of inclusion –
    Rhyllis Cashion, Educator and Zonta Club
    Pauline Ackerly, St Vincent de Paul – charity work for 40+ years
    Colleen Smith, New Norfolk District Hospital
    Sheila Plunkett, Nurse and charity work, St Vincent de Paul
    Catherine Rainbird, organist, St. Matthews 1940s to at least 1960s
    Faye Figg, Educator
    Mrs Jeannie (Jane) Allwork (Dr Frank Allwork’s wife), on Parish Council of St. Matthews, on the fundraising committee for the New Norfolk Cottage Hospital, and later on the Board of Management, on the Hobart Children’s Hospital fund raising committee and the fundraising Committee for the New Norfolk Red Cross Society. Dr. Frank Allwork was the first medical advisor and officer to the Cottage Hospital in 1910, having run a medical practice in New Norfolk from 1900. The Allwork family resided at “Kumara”. Mrs Allwork was active in the Community from 1900 until 1924.

  9. Jillian Smith…service to Education as Teacher for over 30 years at Westerway, Ellendale, Glenora and Maydena schools

  10. Congratulations to those involved in the launch of the INAUGURAL ROLL OF INFLUENTIAL WOMEN OF THE DERWENT VALLEY, a great project.

    We wish to make some comment and suggestions for future consideration.

    1. There is a Mavis Godfrey listed but perhaps it was referring to Mavis Triffitt (later Ebzery) see below.

    Before 1935, and then again from 1938 to 1950, women wishing to participate in athletics only had two options: schoolgirl competitions with short sprints and novelty events, or enter meets under the auspices of the men’s body, the Tasmanian Amateur Athletics Association (TAAA), to compete in short sprints and relay. Despite these restrictions, Tasmania produced some fine women runners.

    June Smith (later Bowring) was nationally competitive but unable to “officially” compete in the National Women’s Championships because Tasmania did not have a women’s association.

    In 1935 the Tasmanian Women’s Amateur Athletics Association (TWAAA) was formed and affiliated with the Australian Women’s Amateur Athletics Union to enable Tasmanian women to compete nationally. However, locally the TWAAA was not supported. Some educational authorities opposed the promotion of track and field activities for young women. The TWAAA went into recess in 1938.

    The driving force behind the reforming of the TWAAA was Mavis Triffitt (later Ebzery) who became honorary secretary in 1951 and retained the role until 1981 when the TWAAA and TAAA merged to form Athletics Tasmania.

    From 1951 to 1981, the TWAAA served its objectives. Athletics clubs formed throughout the state, competitions were held, and State Championships were hosted annually.

    As early as 1956, the TWAAA was able to claim the honour of producing Tasmania’s first female Olympian, Heather Innes AM, a javelin thrower; and Tasmania’s first female Olympic official, Mavis Triffitt, who as Mavis Ebzery was appointed Women’s Manager of the Athletics section for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Team. Mavis also officiated at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

    2. June Bowring, also mentioned in the above article was a New Norfolk resident and prominent Athlete, Tennis player and Golfer.

    3. Sandra Hetherington is a worthy inclusion on the list as recommended by several others.

    4. Shirley Brown spent many years involved with the NN Hospital Auxiliary.

    5. Anne Stevens has been the Organist at St Peter’s Catholic Church for over 50 years and she has taught music to hundreds of DV children.

    6. Ivy Clarke was a business woman involved in the Soroptmist Club formation and the Corumbene Auxiliary.

    7. Nancy Shepherd was the first Manager of The ANM Hostel, now “Rosies Inn”, she was Catering Manager at the new NN Hospital for many years and also involved in catering functions for St. Brigid’s School and the Soroptimist Club and many years earlier at Lachlan functions.

    8. Elsie Murtagh was the Catering Contractor for the ANM Canteen at Boyer and the ANM Hostel and Single Men’s Camps for many years.

    9. Dr Karla Fenton OAM was born in New Norfolk and completed 61 years in medical practice before retiring in June 2016. She is included on the Tamsanian Honour Roll for Women. Dr Fenton joined the Tasmanian Psychiatric Service in 1969 and worked in adult psychiatry, the Combined Children’s Centre, Youth Counselling and was Superintendent of the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centres at the John Edis, Royal Hobart and Royal Derwent Hospitals. She also worked at Clare House in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was Acting Regional Psychiatrist on the North West Coast and was a Forensic Examiner for the Sexual Assault Medical Services.

    Mike & Sheila McBain
    New Norfolk.

  11. Great Initiative. Can I suggest 2 more names for consideration:-
    1. Amy Mary Smith; spent many years in the 1950’s through to late 1960’s working for [1] the N. N. District Hospital Auxiliary; [2] St. Brigid’s Catholic School Auxiliary & [3] St. Peter’s Catholic Church, sitting in the High Street & other sites in all weathers, raising money to assist in the operation of these bodies.
    2. Jill Butler has been a willing worker for St. Matthew’s Church in New Norfolk for very many years, filling various roles with the Church & with the Church Mother’s Union.

  12. Margaret Goss – St John Ambulance and first female member of DV SES
    Margret Bester – Lions Club
    Wendy Garwood – St John Ambulance
    Bel Bird – Business owner
    Marie Scott – Life member of Lachlan Community Hall Association

    1. 1) Grace Curtain – Local historian and writer for the Derwent Valley Gazette.

      2) Elizabeth Curtain – First female appointed Justice of the Peace in Tasmania in 1926 who helped form the New Norfolk branch of the Labour Party as well as a prominent member of the Red cross branch during two world wars.

      3) Gwendoline Curtain-Graham – Secretary of the New Norfolk branch of the Primary Producer’s Union and has the Gwen Curtain-Graham wing in New Norfolk District Hospital named after her – for many years serving the auxiliary there. Both Gwen and her Mother Elizabeth made history in 1946 by sitting together on the bench in a police court, then in New Norfolk.

  13. Pat Haboeck, business owner in partnership with her husband Siege watchmaker/jeweller for over 30 years 1962 to 1995.

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