Surfer encourages women to aim for stars

Former champion surfer Layne Beachley knows about coming close to giving up.

It is why she started her Aim for the Stars Foundation, aimed at supporting girls in a range of fields.

"The catalyst was when I was No 2 in the world," Beachley said.

"I was working four jobs and not earning enough money to be able to compete to win a world championship.

"That lack of support and lack of belief in me presented me with the choice - do I quit and get a real job or do I continue pursuing my passion?" she said.

"Fortunately I had the belief and support of individuals along the way that had an enormous impact in my life. They were the ones who picked me up and told me that I could do it.

"If I didn't have those people then I wouldn't have continued.

"So I have become that mentor, that pillar of support and that person that these girls can rely on to pick them up and believe in them."

Not giving up is a theme of the speech Beachley will be giving at today's Illawarra International Women's Day Committee luncheon.

"Predominantly I'll be talking about daring to dream - having the confidence to set a goal and what it takes to achieve it and the importance of overcoming challenges and ensuring that you have good people around you," she said.

The luncheon is one of a number of events during March to mark International Women's Day, next Friday.

Other events include an art exhibition and a garden gala day at the Wollongong Botanic Garden.

Beachley described International Women's Day as a "significant day in the diary".

"It's a good day for women to get together, share stories, talk about our challenges and inspire and motivate each other and be a sounding board and a pillar of support," she said.

"As women, we tend not to acknowledge our weaknesses because we don't want to be considered weak or vulnerable.

"But once you share your challenges with others, you realise you're not alone in the challenges that you have and there's actually several other women out there experiencing the same thing."

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