In a year marred by infection waves, economic and social unrest, it’s important to take a moment to celebrate those deserving women who continue to contribute to the community and the environment no matter the circumstances. This Women’s Day, Renishaw Hill on the KZN South Coast will be highlighting the roles of five such women as part of its celebration.
“I think this year, possibly more than ever, we need to highlight the incredible work being done by South Africa’s women,” said Phil Barker, of Renishaw Property Developments on the KZN South Coast. “At Renishaw Hills, we are privileged to have such an incredible team who are at the forefront of our innovative thinking and game-changing techniques. We’d like to honour them this Women’s Day by sharing their stories and vision for Renishaw Hills.”
Meet the women in sales and marketing
July 2021 was an important month for Renishaw Hills who welcomed Sharyn Coetsee in the Sales and Marketing Department, joined by Kelly Mitchell shortly afterwards.
“I have the best job at Renishaw Hills!” said an enthusiastic Sharyn. “I get to invite clients to take a fabulous tour with me around the beautiful Renishaw Hills and show them the gorgeous investment options for their possible forever homes. We’re so excited about the launch of Phase 6 and the new opportunities.”
Sharyn brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having sold residential property in Scottburgh and surrounds for the past 16 years. However, she believes Renishaw Hills is something special: “It has total privacy from all the other properties as it is tucked away. Its stylish, upmarket design and finishes, alongside the 100 percent indigenous gardens, makes it the ultimate place to live.”
She looks forward to celebrating Women’s Day with her family, possibly indulging in her favourite pastimes of beachside visits, or tea and cake at a local coffee shop: “Us women deserve to be spoilt and acknowledged for all the good that we do. Every day should be Women’s Day!”
Although her initial start date was interrupted by recent protests, Kelly Mitchell made it to Renishaw Hills on 16 July where she immediately set about her duties, ensuring the clients are warmly welcomed to the stunning village.
“I will be involved in the next few phases at Renishaw Hills, and am so excited to share this journey with our clients as they embark on new adventures,” said Kelly, who boasts experience in customer service, advertising and human resources locally and abroad.
Commenting on her new position, Kelly said: “I admire everything Renishaw Hills stands for – a commitment to nature, adventures and the community. Every time I drive around the village the residents are out and about enjoying their lives. I especially love the gardens which inspire and encourage me. There is no better place to work!”
This love for nature extends to her downtime, which she spends in the outdoors, tending to her herb and vegetable garden, while caring for her two children.
“Life is a constant challenge of changes and I admire all the ladies in my life for keeping me smiling through it all!”
Meet the women responsible for the indigenous gardens
Renowned South African botanist, Dr Elsa Pooley, is one of the key visionaries behind the Renishaw Hills gardens, which are an iconic feature of the estate. She’s established indigenous gardens at notable spaces along the KZN South Coast, including the CBL Head Office gardens – a precursor to what would become Renishaw Hills.
“With input from Phil Barker, and working with Gareth Hampson and Doug Cooke, we started the indigenous nursery at one of the Renishaw compounds,” recalled Elsa. “This quickly outgrew the site, and was moved to Crocworld Conservation Centre. Doug and his team expanded the nursery to fulfil the needs of the development.”
A passion for the natural world keeps Elsa busy. As an indigenous landscaping consultant, she assists in gardens like those found at Renishaw Hills, as well as rehabilitation projects. She operates botanical tours, and is also working on an encyclopaedic book ‘The Complete Guide to Indigenous Garden Plants of South Africa’ with Geoff Nichols and Andrew Hankey.
Describing Renishaw Hills, Elsa said: “I think it is possibly the only housing development in the country which provides a landscaped garden in the price of the house – a wonderful idea from Phil Barker. The indigenous gardens, complimenting the great architecture, as well as the wonderful site looking out over the ocean, make it a very special housing estate.”
She will, no doubt, be spending this Women’s Day out in nature – a day she feels is worth celebrating: “It is an opportunity to take a break and consider our place in the world, a time to salute the women around us and show our appreciation for all that they do.”
In 2015, Amanda Maphumulo joined the staff of the nursery on a temporary basis, as she was keen to get involved in the development.
“This was the start of a wonderful association of horticultural knowledge from Doug and Amanda, the nitty gritty agricultural and conservation background of Gareth, and my indigenous gardening experience,” recalled Elsa.
Amanda’s knowledge and skill in landscaping saw her become a firm fixture at Renishaw Hills, where she now supervises the gardening, from earthworks and installation through to garden maintenance. It’s a role she relishes in a place she truly loves.
“The diversity of the plant material we use here is amazing, they’re all indigenous yet still beautiful throughout the year,” said Amanda. “There is never a dull moment with our gardens. From flowers to foliage our gardens are lovely.”
She said the garden design by Elsa is unique for each unit: “This is exciting because it gives me a chance to challenge myself by exploring different aspects of each garden. The houses are so stylish and suitable for anyone wanting a harmonious environment with the birds and other living creatures.”
Commenting on the Women’s Day celebration, she said: “It is important because it empowers us not only to believe in ourselves, but to value each other as women.”
Meet the woman with a passion for the community
Despite a severe lack of knitting skills, Margi Hoby Botha gleefully joined a group of community-minded women at Renishaw Hills from Projects with a Purpose (PWAP). This Renishaw Hills-based NPO provides hand-knitted, crotched and sewn items for those in need, and Margi was soon hooked!
“I was inveigled into taking over the chairmanship of Projects with a Purpose in December 2020,” she explained. “We try to find out the needs of the community and then concentrate on one or two organisations a year.”
This year has seen the group making adult bibs, wheelchair restraints and cushions for residents in the Jona Vaughn Home which cares for the mentally and physically challenged. They’ve also been tasked with knitting warm jerseys for those at Usizo, a place that seeks to alleviate poverty through education.
As a former teacher, Margi has always been involved in outreach programmes that seek to empower the youth, particularly those in townships. Through educational games and techniques, she has helped disadvantaged children enter mainstream education, and assisted in upskilling adults for better work opportunities.
Passionate about topical discussions, quizzes, sewing and bridge, Margi found the perfect place in Renishaw Hills when she relocated in 2019: “Renishaw Hills is unique. The beautiful indigenous gardens, as well as friendly and supportive residents make the transition to retirement easy. Socialising is always on the agenda! Fun Fridays involve sharing, quizzes, dancing, special meals, entertainment and the numerous clubs cater for a wide variety of interests – from bridge to snooker!”
She’s looking forward to celebrating the diversity and independence of women, while cherishing those scarred by gender-based violence: “Women’s Day is a celebration of how far women have come in terms of their achievements in all walks of life.”