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Penkridge estate agent Heather Stern talks of life, family and being president of Stafford Soroptimists

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: June 15, 2014

By Sarah Marshall

Penkridge estate agent Heather Stern talks of life, family and being president of Stafford Soroptimists

Penkridge estate agent Heather Stern talks of life, family and being president of Stafford Soroptimists

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AGE: Would rather not say.

HOME: Penkridge  

FAMILY: Two adult daughters who are married each with a young son.

OCCUPATION:Estate Agent

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WHERE WERE YOU BORN?

I was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD LIKE?

I was an only child of firm but loving parents. We were not poor but certainly not well-off either. Picnics in the hills and two weeks each August by the sea were the highlights. We got a car when I was seven but never had a TV. We attended church every Sunday morning and took a fairly sedate walk every Sunday afternoon around lanes often featured on the TV comedy Last of the Summer Wine. My mother never worked, made all my clothes, cooked two full meals a day, kept an immaculate house and garden and still read to me for hours and took me to the swings in the park. When I became a mother I decided she had been Wonder Woman.

TELL US A CHILDHOOD MEMORY.

I loved dancing and still remember my horror when I saw the mess my new red tap shoes had made on the polished wood floor beneath our bay window. I must have been about four years old. Other memories of childhood are vivid and many but here is one that belongs to our industrial past: the smell of the lanolin on the men and women’s clothes as they crammed into the trolley bus at the end of their shift, the women with rollers in under chiffon scarves, my mother hated being on that bus, she’d rush through the shopping to get home before the mills came out.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU LEFT SCHOOL?

I planned to teach, my dolls were all very well-schooled.

HOW DID YOUR CAREER PROGRESS?

After university, where I read French, I decided to go into industry instead of teaching. By that time the work had widened for women and I joined a plastics company in the marketing department and later went to British Leyland. As was often the case with my generation, I took a break when I had my first daughter. Joining an Estate Agent as a Negotiator was not so much planned as happened upon, but I loved it from day one and that is over 27 years ago now.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH the SOROPTIMISTS?

I was asked to join the Management Committee of Wilford House, a residential home for the elderly on Wolverhampton Road Stafford. This Home is supported by Soroptimist International of Stafford  and I was subsequently invited to one of their meetings. I joined the Club in early 1992 when Kate Brade was President.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

Bringing my business through the recession and continuing to ensure that the people in Penkridge and surrounding villages are able to move home despite difficult times.

DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?

I do sometimes wish I had taken up my place at King’s College to do the PGCSE and at least tried out my childhood dream of teaching. But then again maybe I would never have become a Soroptimist.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE AIMS/AMBITIONS?

I aim to lead a full and active life as long as I possibly can.

FAVOURITE CAR:

Whatever I am driving at the time, currently VW Passat.

HOBBIES:

I am a member of the ramblers, have a largish garden to maintain, sewing and reading. I am a Soroptimist and as president it does absorb a good deal of time.

FAVOURITE MUSIC:

Beethoven

FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION:

Anywhere where I can de-stress, beautiful cities, mountains, sunshine, sea.

FAVOURITE FOOD & DRINK:

Wine & chocolate, but beef from our local farms is excellent too.

FAVOURITE NEWSPAPER:

Frankly, I only read the local press these days. I get the majority of my news from the BBC on the internet.

FAVOURITE BOOK:

I read a lot. Testament of Youth by Vera Britten and Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise to Candleford have both been re-read at various times but I would probably stick with Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

FAVOURITE PIN-UP:

I’d rather not say.

THINGS YOU LOVE/HATE:

The English countryside, the wonderful sites and houses cared for by the National Trust. Family and friends, Soroptimism, which has given me an opportunity to meet women in many different jobs. Our activities have widened my horizons and challenged my ideas/I hate violence against women first and foremost, from domestic abuse to female genital mutilation. Soroptimism gives me a chance to do something about that so it is more than a vague feeling. I also do not like marketing men selling the “girls wear pink and play with pastel coloured Lego” view on life. We really thought we’d gone beyond all that in the late 70s, I find it sad. Also bad manners, being shoved off pavements by cyclists, chewing gum.

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