Merle’s 50th anniversary and the month of women at the Regatta Hotel

11212298_10153261098655040_2053780264_nIn March this year, the Regatta celebrated the 50th anniversary of Merle Thornton’s famous protest at the Regatta Hotel and International Women’s Day with a Grand Ladies Luncheon on March 27th.  

The Grand Ladies Luncheon was opened by Merle herself who spoke about her protest against the oppression of women which included a ban on drinking in public at the Regatta Hotel on March 31st, 1965.

Merle received a standing ovation from the eager audience of women, and men, of all ages. Guests were treated to four courses of delicious food – for the mains, prosciutto wrapped chicken breast and pan seared snapper – expertly prepared by the Boatshed kitchen, led by Executive Chef Dan Flemming.

The Moet flowed and the guests mingled with many taking the chance to talk toMerle about her illustrious life, as well as her actions at the Regatta Hotel.11215953_10153261099205040_1880890213_n

Merle Thornton with owner of Kaf.Tanned, Jade Castle

After mains, our panellists took to the stage for a one hour discussion on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘make it happen.’ The panellists included: Rosie Waterland, senior editor of, Tracey Spicer, news anchor and Fairfax columnist and Amanda Wilson, the first female editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.11179994_10153261098730040_1633748289_n

The Beginning Boutique team with their guests

The panel was hosted by Gretel Killen, Australian media personality and author, who expertly guided the discussion through topics such as succeeding in the workplace, the gender pay gap, what it takes to ‘make it happen’ and where to from here for Australian women.

The luncheon was in support of the Sister2Sister program, a unique yearlong mentoring and risk management program designed to empower ‘at risk’ teenage girls to turn their troubled lives around. The early intervention program addresses deeply entrenched intergenerational problems in our disadvantaged youth, and focuses on the core underlying issues, starting with the lack of a stable positive role model. Funds from each ticket sold, as well as money raised from a raffle on the day, were donated to the Sister2Sister program.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Grand Ladies Luncheon this year, as well as our amazing panellists, Regatta team and sponsors. Most importantly, thank you to Merle Thornton for her actions at the Regatta Hotel fifty years ago and her life-long commitment to improving the lives of Australian women.

 Cheers to fifty years!11106472_10153169796465040_1801082737_nFrom left to right: Rosie Waterland, Gretel Killeen, Amanda Wilson, our marketing & PR coordinator, Jacki, and Tracey Spicer