Where are they now? Narelle Forrest
As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
This philosophy is often brought home to former local, but now Melbourne based lawyer, Narelle Forrest (Thomas) when helping city-born colleagues understand how things work in the bush.
Narelle contends that growing up in the relative isolation of Esperance helped her develop life skills that have stood her in good stead throughout life.
The word resilience is often mentioned these days as a necessary trait to cope in the modern world and for Narelle the freedom she experienced as a child helped her develop resilience, maturity and independence.
While appreciating her carefree lifestyle with Dad Harry, Mum Kath and brother Justin, Narelle was also aware of some of the social problems that existed in her hometown so grew up with a realistic view of the world.
With her father originally from Geelong and mother from Wyalkatchem, Narelle was born in Esperance.
Dad was very involved with the Ports Football Club and the family regularly attended games, the highlight for Narelle being allowed to toot the horn when a goal was scored.
Narelle attended Nulsen Primary School from 1985 -1992.
Her abilities were recognised in being named as a student councillor and Dux of the school in Year 7 but she was also absorbed in many after hours activities such as ballet under the tutelage of Fran Bridges and later Ian McDermott, performing in the Junior Bijou, playing in the school band and photography.
She also won several trophies playing junior golf at the Esperance Club.
It was in Years 11 and 12 at ESHS that Narelle developed a love of English Literature, inspired by the dedicated teaching of Mrs McArthur. With a strong support base of friends and teachers around her, Narelle achieved a TEE score beyond her expectations and it seemed a natural choice for her to to pursue a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Communications, initially with the intention of becoming a secondary school teacher.
However, following her degree and after another year of journalism study where she found an affinity with the media law component she decided to study law, achieving her degree with Honours, in 2004.
As if not busy enough, at the same time Narelle enrolled in the Army Reserve and spent any spare time with her unit and on training camps.
2004 was a milestone year as it was also then that she met future husband, Melbourne based Drew Forrest, a stockbroker with a fund manager.
The year was spend flying back and forth to Melbourne before Narelle relocated after winning a job as a Judge’s Associate (providing research and administrative assistance to the judge) in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
She went on to work at a couple of top Australian law firms in Mergers and Acquisitions.
Although finding the work challenging and exciting when son Jack was born in 2010 it was clear that being an MA lawyer and a good mother were conflicting goals so she changed jobs to work as an in-house legal counsel at Armaguard, managing to also achieve during those busy years a Master of Commercial Laws from the University of Melbourne.
With Drew and Jack being devout AFL Richmond supporters it was providential that second son, Sam was born last year on New Years Eve, the same year as the Tigers long awaited premiership.
Having just returned to work following maternity leave and with her main focus ensuring her boys have all the love and support they need to make their way in life, Narelle has further ambitions to achieve in her career, hoping to eventually be appointed to a general counsel position.
Being able to prove, especially to the Melbourne legal fraternity that a girl who didn’t go to private school in Melbourne is still able to have a successful legal career has always been a great motivator for the girl from the bush.
Sadly, Narelle’s father died two years ago and while Mum, Kath still lives in Esperance the family don’t return as often as they would like however Drew’s parents live in Torquay, a seaside town outside Melbourne, not dissimilar to Esperance and frequent visits there help Narelle cope with any homesickness for her hometown.