During the year, there was an opportunity to apply for a place on an intensive development program – an Executive Development Scheme, known as EDS92. I was successful in my application. The program included placements in new areas to expand our experience. Most of the participants were career Public Servants, with little or no experience in the private sector. I was the odd one out with predominantly private sector experience. As a result, all the others took placements with private sector organisations; I took placements within the Public Service. That is the background.
One of the participants is Liz. She was 15 years younger than me, had worked in the Public Service all her life, was single, and had an accounting background. All very different from my professional background in Computing, married with two children – although they had both left home at that time.
But somehow, we hit it off.
We discovered some common ground. Liz’s family migrated to Australia from England when she was a child and live in Adelaide. We lived in Adelaide on a couple of occasions. Our birthdays are only a few days apart.
Although based in Canberra, as I was, Liz took placements in Victoria. With the EDS92 program, we had intensive development sessions three times during the fifteen months of the program. These were our only opportunities to catch up, but we made the most of the time.
At the end of the program, Liz stayed in Melbourne, changing jobs to do so. On one occasion we were both visiting Adelaide at the same time, and we met up at a Gliding Club where my husband took her for a flight.
We do not see one another often, but exchange cards, emails and texts between the occasional visits.
Two years ago, Liz visited during the Benalla Festival. I had been a little nervous as we had not met up for a couple of years, and our lives have taken different directions. I need not have worried. We enjoyed having time together.
This year we have arranged for Liz to visit again. We had hoped to meet up to celebrate our birthdays (they are only 4 days apart), but our busy lives meant that this was not possible. In the end we decided that Liz will come to Benalla during the Benalla Festival once more. She had thoroughly enjoyed her last visit during the Festival and had even checked the dates before suggesting the Parade weekend for her visit.
A friendship that has lasted the years, even though our lives are so totally different, and face to face contact is infrequent.