Shirley Frew may have finished her time as a teacher at Matamata College but the impression she made on students continues to shine.
It’s a connection that will remain in the hearts of her students, in particular Louisa (Lulu) Wilcox.
She and many of her former sewing classmates will reunite with Frew at the 2018 Matamata College reunion.
Shirley – known affectionately as Nana Frew – joined Matamata College in 1969 as a relief teacher in sewing.
“I went to relieve for a term and never left,” she said. “I started off with just a few students and it got bigger and bigger.
“The kids were so creative, so I tried to push their creativity and we did all sorts of things.”
It was in this class that Wilcox, now a celebrity fashion stylist and editor, discovered her passion for creative design.
Nana Frew retired in 2013.
Wilcox said she credits Nana Frew with her successful career as a celebrity stylist in New Zealand and Australia.
“Nana drove me to heights unimaginable resulting in many fashion awards.”
She attended Auckland University of Technology and completed a three year Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in costume design.
Shortly after graduating, through a family member, she was offered a position at MTV Australia as the channel’s stylist.
Eventually she moved back to New Zealand to start her own business as a freelance stylist, landing a job with New Zealand Women’s Day, where she still works.
Lulu styles celebrities, including musicians, actors and New Zealand reality TV series contestants.
She is also the fashion editor for Australian Women’s Weekly.
Wilcox loves to attend the World of Wearable Arts competition and also scopes out new talent at the New Zealand Fashion Week.
“I like to promote and push the novice designer because I know how hard it is.”
Despite her busy career and being mum to two young girls, she always has time for Nana Frew whenever she visits Matamata.
“I give full credit to Nana Frew for my career. Her encouragement and belief in me was always there.
“I love catching up with her and I always keep in contact.”
And it’s totally mutual for Nana Frew, who said she always keeps an eye on her former students and was proud of each of them who are pursuing their dreams.
The college reunion will be held in March 2018, to celebrate its 100th birthday.