Westhaven celebrates 60th anniversary with fashion parade

WALKING THE RUNWAY: Matthew White showing off some of Westhaven's ugg boots and their drink holders. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING
WALKING THE RUNWAY: Matthew White showing off some of Westhaven's ugg boots and their drink holders. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING

For almost two years Simone Murphy and Jon Ballingall have worked together sewing ugg boots.

The duo work for Westhaven’s Two Sheep store. On Wednesday, the store celebrated Westhaven’s 60th anniversary with a fashion parade and the launch of their special anniversary ugg boots.

Mr Ballingall, who didn’t even know about the depot before he started working there, said while every boot was different from the next, he could finish sewing a pair of shoes in about 30 minutes.

“The best bit for myself is learning new skills. Since I started sewing I hadn’t sewed for about six years, since I was in school,” he said.

Ms Murphy said she couldn’t even thread a needle before she started, but described the staff as “heaven-sent”.

“People with different abilities might be lower in some areas and stronger in others, and even staff members are lower in some areas and stronger in others. It’s all about understanding and acceptance and treating us like we’re all human beings,” she said.

“We don’t like being put in those boxes and the people here make us feel like we don’t need to be put in those boxes.”

It was an understanding group of people who worked together to make the ugg boots, Ms Murphy said.

PRODUCT LAUNCH: Dubbo's Senior Citizen of the Year for 2017 Gwen Chislett modelling a pair of the Two Sheep Store's ugg boots before the new shoes, marking the anniversary, were revealed. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING

PRODUCT LAUNCH: Dubbo's Senior Citizen of the Year for 2017 Gwen Chislett modelling a pair of the Two Sheep Store's ugg boots before the new shoes, marking the anniversary, were revealed. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING

“We have our jokes, because if you don’t have a positive workplace you don’t have a productive workplace,” she said.

There were a lot of misconceptions about people with disabilities, Mr Ballingall said. Since working for Westhaven he said he had gotten used to a range of abilities and the different ways people reacted to others.