Embrace Every Moment

Zoe Sholl graduated from Santa Maria in 1947 and is one of our truly Golden Girls. Over the course of her life she has been married, had two daughters and lived for 15 years in Papua New Guinea. She has had a broad range of career experiences as a secretary, personal assistant, interior designer, reiki practitioner and colour therapist.

Zoe has always been attracted to colour. As a designer and therapist, she feels we are drawn to the colours we need in life. Most recently she has been attracted to the colours red and purple; the colours of The Red Hat Society. It is a movement that has swept the world since 1997.

Zoe beautifully articulates the mission and origins of this special group, “The Red Hat Society is an international “disorganization” of women who embrace the worth of deepening friendships and re-discovering the value of play.  Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next.

“A number of years ago, American, Sue Ellen Cooper and her friends took inspiration from the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. It is about a woman who wears a red hat and purple attire.  Sue Ellen saw the purple and red as a wonderful symbol for the celebration of life and she formed a group of friends that met on a regular basis for afternoon tea dressed in their red hats and purple dresses. 

“The group began with a few women 50 years of age and over, deciding to greet middle age with verve, humour and elan.  Word spread and there are now Red Hat Society Chapters with more than a million members throughout the world participating in a variety of activities. There are over 70 chapters here in WA. Our ‘Empress of the West’, Bev Fussell introduced Red Hat here in 2003.”

Since joining in 2004, Zoe has found friendship and socialisation with fun loving, caring women in The Red Hat Society. They participate in activities that bring joy and interest and consequently the group has thrived. In April, Zoe’s Chapter organised a street party for her 90th birthday – no easy feat with Covid-19 breathing down their neck, but highly successful, nevertheless.

Zoe says, “The caring nature of the group has been evident since Covid-19 struck and members have rung around regularly to make sure we are all okay and just to keep in touch.  I have been in a chat group online with eight others and we keep each other amused with everyday happenings.”

Zoe learnt the value of friendship at school in the company of the girls at Santa Maria. She says, “I think I was a very shy child and therefore friendships meant a lot.”  It seems fitting that she continues to celebrate friendship and life with a group of vibrant women who embrace all that life has to offer. She may have swapped uniforms, but the attitude and bonds are the same.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

By Jenny Joseph

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