Kieran Campbell | 13th August 2011
IN THE space of a week she went from being an anonymous puppeteer on the Sunshine Coast to standing before hundreds of strobing camera flashes in front of London’s High Court.
Christine Assange was certainly taken on a crash course for being a public figure.
And while it is her son, Julian Assange, who usually receives awards, Mrs Assange has been applauded for her commentary in the media over the past nine months.
The Sunshine Coast branch of Toastmasters has awarded the puppeteer the annual Golden Gavel, an honour for someone not involved in the group but who made great achievements in public speaking.
Mrs Assange flew to London in December after her son, the editor of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, was arrested.
Her words have been broadcast to millions of people around the globe.
Mrs Assange said she was “very chuffed” with the award for a talent she never realised she had.
“It is a very lovely gesture,” she said.
“You don’t know how it’s coming across and it is a bit nerve-wracking.
“It’s very encouraging to know that people actually think that it’s okay to listen to what I’ve got to say.
“It’s made my day.”
Lubo Gregor from the local Toastmasters said: “We feel she did an amazing job talking to the media about her son.”
Mrs Assange started performing in her late 30s, after years of stage and set design for big theatre companies.
She still works as a puppeteer, an occupation she chose for her love of fairy stories because of the tussle between good and evil.
Mrs Assange said her performer background probably helped her in front of large audiences.
“I think it just gets down to if you’re honest and you’re telling the truth,” she said.
“Try to just get the truth out as simply and as honestly and with as much heart as possible.
“Just be honest – I think people respond to that.”
Last month Mrs Assange headed a forum panel at Woodford festival Splendour in the Grass, where she attracted raucous applause.
“I thought I did all right but I didn’t know it would go as well as it did,” she said.
“I was terrified. The audience was lovely and supportive.”
Mrs Assange said she would pick up some tips from Toastmasters when she collected her award at their contest day on October 15.
CHRISTINE’S TOP TIPS
Know your subject
Try not to be too wordy
Have plenty of sleep the night before
A little bit of yoga to relax