Growing up in the sleepy hollow that was Jansen Road, anyone could tell that pretty little Annabel Pennefather was a girl meant for great things. It’s not from the way the child of five played hockey with her father in their front garden, or by her sweet and inquisitive nature.
One could tell by the life her late grandmother led. Born in 1903, Alice Pennefather was a Eurasian woman ahead of her time. Part-Japanese, part-Scot, she held a job well into her old age. In her youth, she was a hockey, badminton and tennis champ. And if these qualities didn’t draw tsks-tsks from the conservative society she lived in, the fact that she wore an off-shouldered gown at her 60th wedding anniversary should have done the trick.
What does this woman, who passed away 22 years ago at age 80, have to do with this year’s Her World Woman of the Year?
She is the woman whom Annabel, 56, calls her role model for life. “She was a strong, sporty woman,” Annabel says fondly of her grandmother, “truly a pillar of our family. She definitely held her own.” If she were alive today, it is safe to say that Alice Pennefather would have said the same of her granddaughter.
Annabel has chalked up a laundry list of achievements in the polar worlds of sports and law, enough to full three lifetimes, without so much as shaking a fist. Her latest job title is legal consultant, and head of Singapore’s first dedicated sports law practice at Harry Elias partnership.
Her other day job is a sports administrator, whose most public contribution to date was to lead our country’s athletes to the Athens Olympics and give Singapore its strongest smell of a gold medal. Her efforts recently earned her the prestigious Asian “Women and Sport” trophy from the International Olympic Committee, that recognises her promotion of women in sports.