Buzz McCarthy and the Australian Women's Club
"Australians want to be involved in London life. It's what characterises us in London," laughs Buzz. "Everybody says yes and asks for details later."
Earlier this week I met with the energetic and aptly named Buzz McCarthy in a South Kensington cafe to talk about the Australian Women's Club. Buzz is a dynamic expat Australian writer, Doctor of Psychoneurology, trainer and entrepreneur. She is full of energy and enthusiasm for Australia and London and is President of the Australian Women's Club In London.
Relocation to London
Buzz has always worked and travelled between Europe and Australia and, after a successful media tour following her book publication, she decided to pursue a gap year 5 years ago . She packed up her cat, wine, home and car and trekked to London. Now she is making it her permanent home.
"I am very affected by energy," says Buzz. "A vibrant city like London spurs me on and, as a result, I have a busier life than most people I know. The proximity to Europe is brilliant and I am pursuing activities morning, noon and night. I am always taking part in art history classes or lectures or travelling abroad. I have created a rich life here. I could go the to V & A every day and I'd never see it all. I love it."
Thankfully for us, much of Buzz's work involves creating opportunities for Australian women in London.
The Australian Women's Club
Given Buzz's skills and experience, it is not surprising that she found herself on the advisory board of the Australia and New Zealand Literary Festival after arriving in London. Through these networks, and through her connection with Australian Theatre Producer Trish Wadley, she became a member of the Australian Women's Club.
Now President, Buzz curates some fantastic opportunities for the Club's membership base. "I have an amazing team behind me at the executive and committee level. All of our major events are sold out."
The Club offers a huge range of activities and events. Members celebrate Australian memorial or cultural days like Anzac Day, Australia Day and the Melbourne Cup but they also enjoy tours of places like Westminster Abbey or Australia House. Links between Australia and London are explored through speaking events featuring women like the Australian broadcast journalist Yalda Hakim, or Samantha Cohen, the Australian Assistant Private Secretary to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. "We do everything from offering tickets for Australia related lectures, luncheons and events through to organising foodie trips here and abroad, coffee mornings with great speakers, guided walks or theatre excursions," says Buzz.
The Club was set up about 32 years years ago with the intention of supporting Australian women in London who were looking for camaraderie an a connection with Australian culture and support. "These were women who had travelled to London in their twenties, of whom a significant proportion never went home. Many women married and settled in the UK," explains Buzz. "These are Australians who made their homes and built lives in London." Now aged between 60 or 70, their networks and knowledge of London make them so very valuable to newcomers.
The Club also supports the continual flow of Australian women who travel to London for extended periods along with their corporate partners. "Many of these women are precluded from work because of visa limitations," Buzz told me, "and they are here for given periods of time, usually three to five years. The Club offers them immediate support and community."
Finally, there are also a number of Australian women who live between London and Australia. "They usually do six months in London then six months in Australia," says Buzz. "As soon as they arrive in London they hit the ground running by booking into events with us. They have access to immediate friends and activities."
The Australian Women’s Club is part of a wider network of women’s clubs within London known as The Federation of International Women’s Associations in London (FIWAL). FIWAL was formed with "the strong belief that, if women of different races, religions and cultures from national associations could meet in a strictly non-political but structured and relaxed manner, they would find common ground through shared interests which would benefit their organisations and individual membership." FIWAL's membership base is impressive and broad: https://fiwal.org.uk/members
You can access the Australians Women’s Club London here: www.AWCLondon.org.uk