Helen Heggie sold her massively successful business in 2009, completed a Diploma in Community Services, and put her skills, gregarious nature and infectious laugh to use as Activities Co-Ordinator for Sydney Community Services. She graciously took part in our Q&A…

You’re a Gladesville local. How long have you lived there?

I was born in Gladesville but moved around in my early 20s. I settled back in Gladesville when I started a family 15 years ago.

What keeps me in Gladesville is the sense of community, the wide open spaces with the contrast of being so close to the city but having the Lane Cove River on one side and the Paramatta River on the other side, and plenty of bush land in between. The variety of well-established cafes, restaurants and clubs with good public transport to almost anywhere in Sydney is a bonus.

You’re now part of the team at SCS. But before you worked in the corporate world. Tell us about that…

In 1999 I started my own business called “Bullet Sportswear” which manufactured school uniforms and sportswear across NSW and QLD. I later incorporated promotional merchandise and branded corporate wear. It was a job that was fast paced and I revelled in the ability that it gave me to be creative, design a product from scratch and see the end product distributed. As the company grew it was not unusual to arrive at work at 4.00am and leave at 8.00pm with a line of couriers loading orders to get dispatched by deadlines.

It was a crazy time I enjoyed with my staff and suppliers. I formed a lot of close relationships with people in the industry which I still have today.

Once I started my family (I have two sons aged 12 and 14), I found it harder to maintain that fast pace so I made the decision to bite the bullet (excuse the pun) and hand over the reins to someone else.

I sold the company in 2009 when my second son was born…literally the day after he was born. The sale took place, and all the contracts were signed in the nurses’ station of the maternity ward of the Sydney Adventist Hospital. The midwives assured me I signed correctly on all the dotted lines. My memory of this is still very hazy.

One chapter closed and another opened while I relished in being a stay-at home-mum and wife.

You decided to make a change and becomes an Activities Co-ord for SCS – was that change easy to make?

When my boys went off to school so did I, and I completed my diploma in Community Services. I found the change in career easy as working in the community sector involved being a part of a team, and I’ve always loved talking to people young and old across different cultures and walks of life.

Describe a typical day when we’re not in lockdown?

There is no such thing as a typical day at SCS for me and that suits me perfectly. In a typical week I might be visiting clients , some in their late 90s for a cuppa and some social interaction, then I’m on a bus with up to 18 clients and volunteers taking them on day trip anywhere from the Northern Beaches to the Southern Highlands, visiting local attractions, museums, historical sites and art festivals .

My working week ends with a BBQ with my men’s group (the “BOOMers”), usually overlooking the ocean somewhere.  I’ve always said I’m probably the happiest person in Sydney to go to work on a Monday!

If there is one thing you’d like to change about community service in general, what would it be?

I’d like to remove some of the barriers from the disability and aged care sectors so they have better access to healthcare and their community, decrease wait times for available services and the endless and often complicated paperwork and criteria they need to meet in order for funding to support them.

If you’re not at work, what are you up to?

If I’m not at work I’m usually somewhere outdoors, hiking in the Blue mountains, visiting antique stores, fishing with the kids, kayaking along Lane Cove river and searching for the perfect coffee in a new cafe.