She has overseen the transformation of countless showgirls but Bernadette Burcher admits, she once lacked the confidence to be one herself.
“I never was a showgirl, and I’m not sure I can answer why not. I would do it though, if I could go back. I think it gives you a confidence boost, in those days I could have done with one.”
The 69-year-old Junee local is an enigmatic combination of farming stock and city deportment.
Despite a life lived on the land, Mrs Burcher is known for her highest standards in self-presentation.
She aptly describes: “I’m not a work horse, I’m a show pony.”
The fourth youngest of 10, Mrs Burcher’s education was unceremoniously cut short when at aged 16 her school closed.
After approaching every business on Wagga’s main street, Mrs Burcher stumbled upon a lifelong passion.
“I was working at Coles at the time, and went for a haircut. The salon asked me to be a hairdresser, so I asked my mother, she said to take it.”
She eventually came to own that salon, selling it when she was in her 30s.
Even during her treatment for breast cancer six years ago, the mother of three and grandmother of five kept her etiquette.
“The day I was diagnosed [...] I said to my husband, ‘I will not wear the same outfit for two days’.”
On the first day of treatment, Mrs Burcher promised fellow Hayfield patient, Buck, that once they were cleared of their respective illness they would celebrate together. The day never eventuated.
“I went to his funeral, and I absolutely couldn’t believe it. He went so quickly.”
“I fear everyday that it’ll be back, but I was never going to let that get to me. It will never stop me from being me.”