New Hotel Gosford hosts powerful International Women’s Day luncheon

On Tuesday, March 8, over 150 women from across the Central Coast descended on Hotel Gosford to celebrate the incredible achievements of our female community.

Hotel Gosford is a family-owned and heritage listed property, first opened almost 100 years ago in 1926. Today, it’s owned and run by the Harris family – Peter and Jane, as well as their son, Jordan. After their re-launch in November last year following extensive renovations, the team at Hotel Gosford were understandably excited to be hosting this event for such an iconic day.

international women's day

Words by Jacqueline O’Neill, Images by Brooke Biro Photography

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and has occurred for well over a century. The day is not country, group or organisation specific, and in recent times, also acts as a call to action for the acceleration of women’s equality. This year’s international theme was Break the Bias’, which saw women and their allies gather globally to discuss and bring to light the biases that are experienced by women everywhere in 2022.

Guests arrived to the sweet tunes of local musician, Kelly Griffiths (Elaskia Music)

A Local Affair

Attendees to Hotel Gosford’s event were treated to the best that the Central Coast has to offer. Upon arrival, guests were entertained by the sweet tunes of local Kelly Griffiths (Elaskia Music), treated to a delectable dessert bar courtesy of Cakes by Kyla, and warmly welcomed by the effervescent local actress and comedian, Marney McQueen, who MCed the day.

Once guests had time to mingle and were then seated for lunch, a number of special guests discussed potential areas for improvement when it comes to ‘breaking the bias’. Serial renovator and TV personality, Kara Demmrich, gave us some great insight into her struggles balancing her kids while on set, as well as her dreams to have her daughter grow up feeling like she has equal opportunity in the construction industry – a typically male-dominated field.

women guest speakers

From left: MC Marney McQueen, with guest speakers Pi Williams, Julia Hughes, Lisa Pagotto and Kara Demmrich

Lisa Pagotto, of travel experience company ‘Crooked Compass‘, also told stories of the biases she sees in her work, particularly when it comes to conflict-stricken regions in North Korea, Yemen and Saudi Arabia – suggesting that true equality would be achieved once a greater number of women were seen on the frontlines of conflict around the world.

Julia Hughes, who is the co-owner of the much-loved Mr Goaty Gelato and Bar Botanica, admitted that while she feels tired pretty much all of the time, chasing her two beautiful kids, she’s happy to be doing her own thing in business after the difficulties she formerly faced as a woman in the corporate sector. Guests then finally heard from Ettalong-based textile artist, Pi Williams, who explained that she is simply thankful that she is seeing an increase in the number of women working in creative spaces previously dominated by her male counterparts.

Over 150 women attended the exciting event at Hotel Gosford on Tuesday

Supporting Coast Shelter

Following the panel discussion, Michelle Connolly from local charity, Coast Shelter, shared with the audience several stories that exemplify that difference that their work makes within the community. The true generosity and abundant community spirit came through in the form of donations for the charity raffle, with contributions by JL. Fine, Spell, La Boheme, Brooke Biro Photography, Niche Home & Living, The Grateful Gifter, BUMP Health & Fitness and Women on Boards.

The event and raffle raised over $2000 for Coast Shelter’s work in providing specialist homelessness services and support programs across the coast for people who are at-risk of or are experiencing homelessness, as well as those experiencing domestic and family violence.

Special mentions also go out to Sonya at The Flower Seekers for the beautiful blooms for the day, Bec Lou Events who arranged signage, Kathleen Kirby for her set up of the mini fashion market (representing Nina G Jewellery, Easy to Love, Fabric of Society and Venetia), and Oatley Wines for the wines, including the prosecco on arrival.

Everything about IWD was on fire – even the food (literally)

How Can You Help?

To learn more about Coast Shelter, click here. There are plenty of ways to help, including volunteering your time to prepare and provide meals, mentorship to young people, or to help provide a range of other essential services.