Interview with Ester Willims (Board Chair)

Our Board Chair, Ester Willims, was born in England but made her way over to Australia in 2007 for work and has been here ever since. Community service has been a common theme throughout her life. Here, over a quick cup of Assam Tea (black) she shares more of her history.

Question 1: Why did you join commonkind?

I wanted to feel more connected to my community and give my children the same experiences that I had growing up. 

Question 2: What were you like as a child?

My Dad said I was a precocious, curious person who loved being surrounded by people, at all times. My mum on the other hand called me the Chief Negotiation Officer…I’ve no idea why ;-). 

Question 3: What was your first volunteering experience?

Helping my parents serve tea and coffee at the “Big Sleep Out” where people slept outside for one night in cardboard boxes to raise money for the local homeless charity. I think I was 4. 

Question 4: What has been your most memorable volunteering experience?

Am I am allowed to have two favourites?

  1. As a physio student, in my first uni summer holiday I volunteered for a week summer camp for children with high level needs. It provided families with much needed respite and gave the children a fun filled week away. It reaffirmed my passion for diversity and inclusion no matter your level of needs – everyone deserves a little bit of joy in their lives. 
  2. I sat on the Advisory Board for Hummingbird House (Queensland’s only children’s hospice) for 7 years from when it was being built to it becoming an established service. It was an absolute honour and a privilege to support a service that walks alongside families going through significantly challenging journeys with their children.  

Question 5: What’s the very first job you had (that’s not on your LinkedIn profile) and what did you learn from the experience?

My first job was when I was 14years old. I worked as a pharmacy assistant for a brilliant pharmacist who I still visit when I go home called Mr Patel. He taught me so much about business, relationships and life. My job was great. I would do things like assisting clients complete their scripts, sorting medicines, mixing creams and powders, drug warehouse management and delivering medicines to the elderly. It was so varied and taught me so much – I understood the back end ( finance) and front end ( clients) of community healthcare. It certainly provided a great environment to nurture my curiosity and I got to know nearly everyone and their health needs in the local community. 

Ester (age 3) in her garden in Leigh-on-Sea (England).

Question 6: What do you do for fun?

I have a young family so my time is taken up with a lot of sport and ballet, but my first love is hiking.

I grew up climing all over the UK with my Dad – I climbed the highest mountain in Wales (Snowdonia) when I was 6 years old in wellington boots that didn’t fit because my dad refused to buy me hiking boots till I proved to him I could climb a big mountain. I got my boots in the end… In Queensalnd my favourite place to hike is Springbrook and the trails near O’Reilley’s. 

Question 7: What motivates you?

Really sticky problems that switch on my curiosity and light up my brain. 

Societal benefit – I need to contribute to things that lead to the betterment of others, community and society. Every sector I have worked in has tapped into this key motivator. 

Question 8: How do you practice self-compassion?

I have a couple of strategies, usually I stop take a moment and then talk to myself in a gentle way like talking to one of my children with reassurance and care. If that fails I get a cup of tea, a warm blanket and watch Pride and Prejudice! 

Question 9: If you could give children and young people one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Be proud of yours and others’ differences. They are what makes the world an interesting and special place.  

Question 10: What is your most used emoji?

The bomb with a lit fuse…..

Can I say my son used my phone this morning? I think that may be his doing!

Learn even more about Ester and other members of the commonkind team here.

About commonkind

We provide benevolent relief to people and communities suffering from poverty, disadvantage and distress by facilitating age-appropriate community service activities for children, families and other interested parties.

Get in touch!

Whether you are a charity with a task that might be suitable or you are interested in helping us create a kinder and more connected community, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us here.

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