New career for Unanderra's Maggie Sydenham

A quest to avoid boredom led to Maggie Sydenham uncovering a love of public speaking. She will give a talk on family history on July 11 . Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

A quest to avoid boredom led to Maggie Sydenham uncovering a love of public speaking. She will give a talk on family history on July 11 . Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

After finding she had a talent for public speaking a few years ago, 71-year-old Maggie Sydenham decided to make a career out of it.

She had spent a lifetime working at what the Unanderra resident estimates is 60 different jobs - because she is easily bored.

So after retirement there was the need to find something to do to escape any semblance of boredom. And that something was Toastmasters, the group that helps people improve their speaking skills.

"I needed something stimulating and I was becoming quite reclusive," Sydenham said.

"Even though I was comfortable at home I was very solitary and I wanted something to use my brains, so I decided to check out Toastmasters. I went to one meeting, joined that night and made my first speech the next meeting.

"I didn't join Toastmasters because I was a shrinking violet. I wanted to join because I really wanted some stimulation."

Three years later, she's found she loves public speaking so much that she's decided to try and turn pro - charging $5 for a talk on researching family history.

"I really have found a niche in public speaking," she said.

"I really love it and I thought I'd give professional speaking a go. At 71, I'm starting a new career.

"I have made hour-long speeches at other organisations like U3A, Probus, View Club and things like that and they were well-received so I thought 'why not give this a go as a professional'."

She chose a talk on family history because there's a lot of interest in the subject - it's also one she has some personal experience with.

"My father started on it. He did it for 10 years and only went back a few hundred years," she said.

"When I started researching and using the internet, I could go back a thousand years, it was quite amazing.

"Dad found out that we have convicts in our family history but one of the most interesting things I found is that one of those convicts is descended from royalty. So I've got the full monty in one person covering everything from kings down to convicts."

Other people's family history might not reveal something like that but the further back they go, the more likely they are of finding someone special, she said.

"Your great grandparents for instance, double every generation, so the further you can go back and find ordinary people the more chance there is you're going to find someone interesting. Not necessarily convicts or royalty, but interesting.

"Most people are perfectly happy to go back 200 years in Australia. They're not looking to go back as far as I've gone. I was just really fortunate that in one line of my family I was able to do that."

GLEN HUMPHRIES

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