Originally from South Otago, Kate Hesson (nee Keddell) attended St Hilda’s from 1990 -1994 as a
boarder at Tolcarne. She has strong family ties to St Hilda’s as her mother, Pam Keddell (nee
Cameron), was a student from 1955–1960 and now her eldest daughter Holly is in Year 7,
eventually to be followed by her youngest daughter, Charlie. “I have been suffering from a sense of
déjà vu all year as Mr Bradfield and Mr Huggett are still teaching there but the school has changed.
There are improvements - a school van for transporting students, the scratchy ugly brown merino
tights are gone and so is the computer lab with its clunky PCs. However, I wonder if times were
simpler without anxiety and social media to navigate as a tortured teen."
After St Hilda's, Kate studied Law and completed a BA (Major: Political Studies, Minor: German) at
Otago University. “My politics are now too pragmatic and my German too rusty to support my Arts
degree but I did put my law degree and my love of talking to good use." She worked at Anderson
Lloyd from 1999–2011 and then Goldsmith Law from 2012–2018, specialising in commercial,
resource management and property law. This year Kate began a consultancy company with her
husband (Mike) focussing on governance, organisational change and conflict resolution. She
combines her legal and communication skills to facilitate businesses through transitions such as
bringing in new partners or succession between the generations. (Find out more about Hesson
Consultancy Limited and Kate's work here).
Kate and her family have chosen to base themselves in Dunedin close to extended family because Mike’s work as an international cricket coach takes him all over the world. While Kate did not do the traditional OE to London, cricket has given her the opportunity to live in Argentina and Kenya where she was immersed in very different cultures. “If I had my time again, I would recommend that girls take a gap year and live somewhere with a different culture before they decide what career path to take. You grow so much through such life experience that it changes the direction you thought your life would take when you first leave school or university."
Cricket has also shaped her life as a professional cricket widow, which as any partner of a high
performance athlete/coach can attest, is not a gig for the faint-hearted. Raising a family in such
circumstances has meant that her musical interests have been put on the back burner but she has always prioritised volunteering in the community and maintaining a career. Kate was the side kick of the then music teacher (Richard Madden) and many assumed she would study performance at University. “People who don’t know me from school days are surprised to know I play the piano or sing, while people who haven’t seen me much since school will ask how my music is going. Even though I don’t have as much time as I would like for it at the moment, the good thing about music is that you can take it with you where ever you go. It doesn’t depend on your physical prowess which we know starts to diminish after you hit 40 – if not earlier”.
Kate credits her time at St Hilda’s, and particularly at Tolcarne, with teaching her resilience, tolerance and independence. “I often use the phrase: “I can take it, I went to boarding school!” There are downsides though - she never really learnt to cook or iron properly. (She would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to her Uni flatmates). Kate has met Old Girls in different parts of her life over time and has found a consistent theme of inner strength, kindness and ‘down-to-earthness’ in each of them. Kate is proud to count herself amongst that group and that her girls get to continue the family tradition.
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