Suzanne Nield

on Sunday, 13 May 2012. Posted in Leadership Interviews, Action Motivated Leadership

Pastoralist near Balranald
Suzanne Nield

Suzanne Nield has lived on 'Benilke Station' in western New South Wales for 21 years.  She created a Project called 'Friendship Quilts' to bring women, and men, together to take their mind off the drought.  Although Suzanne Nield does not see herself as a leader, CLW recognised her leadership qualities in her creation and implementation of an idea to bring women together and give them a purpose that is challenging, fulfilling and positive, amidst the relentlessness and despair of one of Australia's harshest droughts.  

In this interview, Ms Nield was asked what led her to create the Friendship Quilt Project, how did she put the idea into action, the level of support she received and how the experience affected her personally.

What led you to create the Friendship Quilt Project?

I suppose you could say the drought made me create friendship quilts for women of the western division. With all the death, dust and hardship around us I thought that women on the land could do with an outlet to help them cope with the drought.

What steps did you take to put the idea into action?

The steps were easy once I made up my mind what I was going to do. First I ran the idea past my mother and mother-in- law, then I spoke with a couple of friends about my project.  All were very supportive. The next thing I did was contact our local paper and did a small interview regards my idea I also put an article in The Western Division Newsletter and The Country Web.  I put a community news article on the ABC radio and from there I did numerous radio interviews.

How did you feel emotionally while getting the Project off the ground?

My feelings were quite mixed at first, when things started to get underway I was beginning to get cold feet and thought I had bitten off more than I could chew.  Then when I stopped and thought about what I was doing and the reason behind all this I got very passionate and determined to prove to myself that I would succeed.

Did the Project evolve with input from others before it became established?

I don't think the project would be as successful if it hadn't been for support I received from friends the media both radio and print and also the most wonderful and generous Australian out there.

How did your family react when you told them about the Project?

My husband thought here she goes another hair-brained idea, it will never happen but I have proved him wrong and now he is very supportive of what I am doing and my children think it is great having their Mum's photo in the papers and also hearing me on the radio it is a real thrill for them they are all very proud and I love them dearly for their help and support.

What does the Project involve?

 The project is to get the women of the western division together as often as we can and join in the making of friendship quilts that will be exhibited and auctioned with the money going to charities of the ladies choice.  It is my way of saying thank you to all those out there that have helped during the drought.  By holding workshops ladies feel free to talk about how the drought is affecting them it gives them a chance to have a good laugh or even a cry if they need but most of all it gives them time out for 
a short time and they go home with a more positive out look on the issues around them. 

How many women are taking part in the Project?

There are approximately 25 ladies in my district with numerous women from all over Australia contributing by either sending fabric or  blocks that can be put together and made into quilts.

Have you been involved in creating other Projects prior to this?

I was involved in organising a drought breaker party in 2000 with two friends we ended up with around 60 people turning up to celebrate the rain.  I was also in charge of a fashion parade for 13years at our local field day and I was the publicity officer on that committee also. 

What have you personally gained from this experience?

My personal gain through being involved in this project is respect for myself, confidence and the feeling you can achieve any thing if you put your mind to it and don't give in the world is out there waiting to be conquered. 

If you would like to contact Suzanne Nield, here are her details:
Suzanne Nield "Benilkie" via Balranald, 2715
Email nieldark@bigpond .com  
Phone (03)50206868