A COMMONWEALTH Games gold medallist and the founder of a Cambodian orphanage came together to share their inspiring stories with south-west women on Wednesday.
About 240 people attended the Connecting Rural Women luncheon in Camperdown to hear Raelene Boyle and Rebecca Lake.
The luncheon, organised by WestVic Dairy, Commonwealth Bank and Ambleside Financial Services, was an opportunity for rural women to network while raising money for the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Foundation.
One of Australia’s National Living Treasures, Ms Boyle spoke openly about her athletic career and triumph over breast and ovarian cancer.
She was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer seven weeks before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. As she pushed Betty Cuthbert in her wheelchair for the opening ceremony she worried about the cables laying across the track.
With her recent diagnosis taking its toll, she said: “I thought if I tip her out, I’m not strong enough to pick her up and get her back in the chair”.
WestVic Dairy acting executive officer Jocelyn Bevin hailed the day a success.
“There was a buzz in the room with lots of women networking,” she said.
“It was an inspiration at both ends of the scale with Raelene and Rebecca.”
Ms Lake is a former Portland woman who helped found the Khmer Social Economic Development Organisation (KSEDO) Children’s Centre in Cambodia.
Ms Lake spoke about her work with KSEDO in Siem Reap and her position now as president of its Australian branch. Together with five local Cambodian women Ms Lake opened a residential care centre in 2011.
Mrs Bevin said when the guest speakers were talking “you could have heard a pin drop”.
Mrs Bevin commended United Dairy Farmers regional representative Roma Britnell on her talk highlighting the importance of the dairy industry in the south-west.