Awarded once a year, the St Anne Award gives special recognition to an Old Girl who has shown dedicated service to her community, going above and beyond the call of duty for no financial gain; someone who has embodied our value of ‘Reaching Out’ with compassion, humility and service.
2023 - Veronica Mellows (Courie) ST Anne Award Winner
I wrote Matric at St Annes when I was 16. I married John Mellows and in August this year we will have been married for 61 years. We have 3 wonderful daughters and between them they have produced 10 grandchildren. John was in shipping all his life until he retired. I was a classical piano teacher at St Mary’s and St Stithian’s, and then I taught at home for many years nurturing my pupils’ love for music and particularly piano. I run 6-7km every morning and have done so forever. In my youth...
I captained the St Annes tennis team and have played “all ages” 1st league tennis. I now play strong social tennis, which I love. I also enjoy bridge.
I worked in Pollsmoor Prison as a spiritual volunteer for 12 years. They treated me as a surrogate mother confiding in me all their dreams and hopes. Alpha was wonderful, seeing men, and women, giving their lives to Christ and knowing they had been saved for Eternity. Restorative Justice and one-on-one counselling were equally rewarding, seeing hardened criminals cry in front of their friends and gang leaders when they realised the ripple effect of their crimes. I was often reduced to tears hearing their stories and understanding the circumstances leading to their incarceration. During my prison ministry, John and I opened our home to Justin, an ex-prisoner, for a year and then again later for 18 months when he was battling with AML leukaemia before he died. I knew it was God’s will for me to care for Justin and I promised Justin that I would nurse him in our home until the end. I have been involved with Pollsmoor for 16 years in all. I continue to care for some ex-offenders who have been paroled and are battling to survive – several of whom are homeless. I am humbled that God used me in prison ministry for the past 16 years and feel fulfilled and blessed beyond words.
2022 - Heather Partner (Wright) ST Anne Award Winner
At Old Girls Day on the 4th of June 2022, Heather was awarded the prestigious St Anne Award. This Award recognises a St Anne’s Old Girl who works tirelessly to improve the lives of others, for no financial benefit at all. This is exactly what Heather does every day, with such dedication and enthusiasm. Heather is fondly known as Pootle or Poots by her classmates. She matriculated in 1974 after 7 years at St Anne’s (having started at the Prep school). She then graduated...
from UKZN with a legal/marketing B. Com Degree and commenced a magical career working on some of SA’s iconic brands. Heather recalls “ I started work as a marketing trainee and worked my way up to Marketing Director, and then CEO.” She retired 6 years ago, to follow her passion for Palliative caring, gardening and riding her stunning horses in Summerveld at the beautiful Rosehill Stables. Everyday Heather can be found helping the grooms and staff at Summerveld, their families, and communities in the surrounding areas. Improving the lives of the residents from Bucks Farm all the way down into the Shongweni Dam rural areas by building crèches, improving schools and feeding starving families. She organises the inoculation of dogs, feeding of dogs, arranging the dogs to be neutered, setting up a sewing centre where women can learn skills to enable them to earn a living, the list goes on. She worked tirelessly all through the Covid restrictions when food was most needed, through the KZN riots, and recently through the worst floods in KZN history. MAD is helping families who lost everything, to rebuild their houses by supplying blocks, passing the blocks from hand to hand, through river beds, where there are no roads. Recently Heather had a donation of musical instruments, from an American musician, and she persevered until she found a music teacher, who drives 150kms every Friday, to teach the children in the Valley. The videos of the music, singing and dancing is heart-warming and you can see the pure joy in the faces of the children. This has become all consuming, humbling and rewarding work for her. The Old Girls are proud to award the St Anne Award to Heather, she is truly inspirational!
House: Frances Baines
2021 - Paula Owen (Hammond) ST Anne Award Winner
Watching a video of the work done by the recipient of this year’s St Anne Award leaves no doubt this Alum is deserving of this achievement. She has shown heart towards the orphaned and abandoned, as well as determination to ensure that the children are kept safe and loved. It gives us great pleasure to present this award to Paula Owen (Class of 1991, Macrorie).
Matriculating from St Anne’s in 1991, Paula joined the workplace and started working at Style Eyes Clothing, a design and...
manufacturing supplier to local retailers. However her heart has always gravitated toward the Non-Profit sector. She is currently the Chair of the Ilembe Chamber of Business’ NPO Forum. Through building a beautiful friendship with Gogo Esther, a pillar and heart of the Etete community 12km from Balllito, KwaZulu-Natal, Paula’s vision began to take shape. After 15 years of Paula and Gogo Esther walking the neighbourhood streets, visiting the sick, down-trodden and hungry, SummerHill House was born of which Paula is the Founder and Director. The struggle has been real, but step by step, land was acquired, funds were raised and buildings were built. Summerhill is a registered cluster-foster facility for the long-term care of orphaned and abandoned children. There are currently 11 children in their care that call Summerhill home. The organisation also operates a Community Centre where homework, reading, sport, feeding and social care programs are provided to the greater community. Summerhill House provides assistance to a consistent 30 children a day, 15 crisis families a month and up to 200 children a day during their holiday feeding programs. Paula finds her greatest reward in the work that she does. She is not just fulfilling a need but something that she has been called to do. Paula recalls the following about her time at St Anne’s, “Schooling as a young teenager at St Anne’s definitely ignited a sense of passion and social responsibility within me, as our country faced the AIDS/HIV pandemic. At St Anne’s I developed a good sense of personal identity, shaped by my friendships, the staff and my time in Chapel.” Thank you for inspiring us Paula, we are so proud of you!
2019 - Peter Gush St Anne Award Winner
Mr Peter Gush joined the St Anne’s Diocesan College Board in 1968 at the age of 37. He was a chartered accountant and partner of Price Waterhouse at the time which stood him in good stead when he was elected as the Chairman of the Board Finance Committee in 1970. He became Chairman of the Board in 1979 and he chaired the Board for 12 years until 1990. Mr Gush was a very involved Chairman and he attended many Board and Finance Committee meetings, as well as Speech Days and other special...
College functions. He was involved in selecting three Heads of school – Tony Cheetham, Bill McQuade and David Wilkinson.
Mr Gush gave 52 years of humble, selfless service to the College both on the Board and the Foundation attending many meetings until 2018. He was renowned for his fierce guardianship of financial constraint at the College and preferring to save money “for a rainy” day. He interrogated all requests for funding from the Foundation and this attitude ensured the substantial growth of the Foundation funds. He assisted in getting the loan of R2 million to build Mollie Stone, and he surprised everyone by sanctioning a donation by the Foundation for the funding of the extensions of the Chapel.
His wife Caroline, their three daughters (Julia (1979), Katie (1981), Hilary (1987) and many of his extended family have been educated at St Anne’s. Sadly Caroline passed away in 2000 and in 2006 Peter battled and won the fight against cancer. Peter is a devoted family man and loves spending time with his children and grandchildren.
St Anne’s runs through Peter’s veins due to his close family ties with the College over the decades. He is a strong believer in women having equal opportunities and supporting themselves and he has proudly associated himself with St Anne’s core values, which represent his own. He has seen many changes during his time at St Anne’s and he has been an inspiration to us all with his unconditional dedication and service to the growth of the College.
The St Anne’s Old Girls Guild take great pleasure in awarding Mr Peter Gush with the St Anne Award as well as inviting him to be part of The Guild as Honorary Old Girl.
2018 - Thuli Sibeko (Ntsuntsha) St Anne Award Winner
Nokuthula (Thuli) Sibeko is a social entrepreneur at heart. In 1999, prior to starting her career journey, she was a member of a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) called Community Youth Empowa’ment (CYE), an organisation committed to social upliftment through community based initiatives. Some of the key projects of CYE were the established and running a Saturday School for learners in Soweto where they tutored Maths, Science and English; facilitating a self-development programme; building...
Resource Centres in some Soweto schools and hosting career workshops for learners. In 2012 and 2013 she cycled the Cape Argus for charity to help raise funds for school uniforms for one of the charities. She then co-founded Girls Invent Tomorrow (GIT), an NPO dedicated to initiating programs designed to empower, educate and mentor girls about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Through her GIT initiatives and with the support from her clients, she has hosted STEM career days, coding session and ran a 12-week tech Saturday programme. In 2015, she launched the NEXTgen Leadership Conference aimed to engage, motivate and inspire young people to maximise their potential and to guide them as they navigate their way to having a successful career. Thuli was nominated in the category Future ICT Leader at the 2016 ICT Achievers Awards, she was listed as one of the 60 women changing the narrative in Girls Code Blog and listed a Top 10 Youth that are helping revolutionise SA tech. In 2017 she was Awarded the Distinguished Woman in Business Excellence Award at the African Women Leadership Gala Dinner. Thuli continues to inspire girls to reach for their dreams and is a well deserving winner of the St Anne Award.
House: Mollie Stone
2017 - Jo James (Brown) St Anne Award Winner
On Old Girls’ Day Jo James was awarded with the prestigious St Anne Award for her incredible service to mentally challenged children. After completing her Bachelor of Social Science degree majoring in Social Work, Jo immediately began making a difference in the lives of numerous children. She began her positive impact on young people while working for the Empangeni Child Welfare after first doing social work for the Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society. Jo later became Principal of...
Sonskynhoekie Special School for mentally handicapped children which at that time was only open to white pupils. While the Director of Zululand Mental Health, she was alerted to the desperate need for help to assist the high number of black handicapped children in the area. In 1981, she started Thuthukani Special School in her garage. From the initial 4 children, the number rose to 100 children in 6 months and she realized the enormous need to build a school. Relying solely on donations she struggled to find suitable land. In 1990, Jo was granted R500 000 by the government to build a school from scratch and was also gifted a piece of land from a local farmer. The first ever multi-racial special school for mentally challenged children in South Africa was built and officially opened in 1993. What an accomplishment! The school now has 412 children of all races with 180 on a waiting list. Jo remains a Trustee 36 years later and is a worthy and deserving winner of the St Anne Award for 2017
House: Frances Baines
2015 - Angela Thomson (Ibbotson) St Anne Award Winner
Angela was so appalled that desperation forced humans to scavenge on the landfill site at Grahamstown that she masterminded a recycling project and under her competent management she has improved the plight and self-respect of impoverished citizens in Grahamstown/eRhini. Her project had created jobs, developed skills, reduced litter and pollution, and alerted people to environmental issues. After a successful career in teaching and prior to her recycling initiative, Angela nurtured and...
encouraged many teachers in farm schools and in remote parts of the Transkei. Her adherence to commendable values such as empathy, disciplined thinking and the benefit of teamwork was probably first learned in the classrooms and on the playing fields of St Anne’s. However her quiet selflessness in uplifting disadvantaged people sets her apart as a blessing to South Africa and a deserving recipient of the 2015 St Anne Award.
2014 - Jenifer Thompson (Chapman) St Anne Award Winner
For the past 60 years Jenifer has quietly devoted a lifetime of service to others and has served her community with distinction doing charity work. She lives in Johannesburg where she has raised her four children. She has worked in many areas including running the Department for Physically Disabled Children, belonging to Child Welfare at Vrededorp School, working for the Red Cross, Tara Hospital, the Sandton Ambulance Services, Hospice and Lifeline counselling. In addition she has assisted...
SANCA visiting schools and educating children on drug abuse and for over a period of 12 years has been counselling at the Linden, Bramley and Sandton Police Stations and at the Sandton Clinic.
House: Marianne Browne
2013 - Ros O’Connor (Dunn) St Anne Award Winner
Ros O’Connor was recognised for her indefatigable social conscience and the considerable gifts of her time, energy and determination to make a difference to diverse and disadvantaged school communities.
House: Frances Baines
2011 - Didi Francis St Anne Award Winner
Didi Francis cycled from Cairo to Cape Town, with a team of seven fellow (male) cyclists, to raise funds for the Millennium Promise and the Millennium Villages project in Tanzania. Their efforts resulted in R 1 500 000 being raised.
2009 - Jennifer Shumaker (Harison) St Anne Award Winner
Jennifer Shumaker began working with The Heifer Project, a privately funded group that assists the poor by donating a heifer (or a similarly appropriate animal) to a deserving recipient. Later, Jennifer joined the Mercy Corps and was sent to Liberia to help to rehabilitate child soldiers. Most recently she has established a family practice specialising in conflict resolution, working particularly with abused women and children in homeless shelters.
2007 - Jane Inglis (Matterson) St Anne Award Winner
Jane Inglis has been instrumental in making changes at Turning Point Home in Brixton, Johannesburg where she is fondly known as ‘Mama Jane’, a loving nickname she has acquired from the boys.
2006 - Tessa Carss (Leary) St Anne Award Winner
Tessa Carss, in partnership with her husband, established the Zoë Carss Education Trust as a memorial to their daughter, with the intention of advancing education, most particularly amongst children and young adults, in developing countries.
House: Frances Baines
2005 - Sarah Dottridge (Smythe) St Anne Award Winner
Sarah Dottridge devoted nearly thirty years of her life to the community of Sweetwaters, in the Kwazulu-Natal region of Vulindlela, near Pietermaritzburg. Sarah made a significant difference to this densely populated, semi-rural community of about 100 000 people, most of whom live in conditions of extreme hardship and deprivation.
2004 - Meryl Harrison (Anderson) St Anne Award Winner
Meryl Harrison fought for the plight of neglected and abandoned animals in Zimbabwe during the land distributions.