Trudie Howard


Trudie Howard: Curio Shop manager, boss of Koos, Staff Mom, and so much more

This dame is the Centre’s oldest staff member on paper, but the youngest at heart. At 55 years old, this busybody decided that staying at home was for the birds and came to work at HESC instead. She’s been firmly entrenched in our team and hearts for 10 months now.

To locate her whereabouts is easy. We just have to listen for the Juanita du Plessis song Jou skaduwee, because if it’s playing anywhere you can be guaranteed that Trudie won’t be far away. Her wine red lips are also a dead giveaway. This is one lady who should never commit a crime, because her movements can be easily pinpointed by the bright red lip stained glasses she drinks out of.

Trudie runs the Curio Shop, takes care of Koos our resident parrot and “Stoep Supervisor”, supervises the DVD room and mothers the staff when necessary. And these are just some of the many tasks she undertakes on a daily basis. Working in the Curio Shop is clearly the highlight of her day though, as she absolutely loves working with people. Trudie’s expert sale techniques are also quite something to behold. She loves a challenge, and makes it her mission every month to not just reach her budget, but surpass it.

This hardworking lady’s love for HESC is immense, and she’s always ready and willing to do whatever it takes to help us achieve our goals. Of course, as is the case with every job, there will always be one thing that you least enjoy doing. And for Trudie that’s cleaning the many items on sale in the Curio Shop. She says she only came to appreciate just how full the shop actually was once she set about cleaning everything in it.

Trudie loves animals, so it came as quite a surprise to us to learn that our feisty teammate was in fact also quite afraid of them. The first time she interacted with our cheetah cubs – who were about five months old at the time – she was quite literally a quivering wreck. Fortunately help was on hand in the form of our well-trained and able guides, who stayed by her side the whole time.

Her role as Koos’ caretaker is a little difficult to describe. One could almost liken it to love-hate relationship. Before Trudie came along Lettie used to look after Koos, and after she left he continued to call her name longingly. We think Trudie may have been a little jealous of this other woman in Koos’ life. But even though she put up pretences of being fed up, Trudie would still come into the office everyday to brag about his latest antics. This is without a doubt a sign of true love.

One story in particular really made us laugh. Trudie said Koos caught some squirrels eating his food, and proceeded to shout at them loudly, “Hey, hey, hey!”

Funny enough, Trudie has an African Grey of her own, and his name is also Koos. He’s a lot younger than our old bird though – only six years old compared to Koos’s stately 35. He also talks more than he whistles, although we can’t repeat what he says here.

If all of our guides are out on tour then we’ll ask Trudie to step in and start the information DVD we play for guests when they arrive. She’s a real entertainer, and never fails to elicit a laugh with her favourite line: “I’d love to offer you popcorn, but the machine is broken today.”

But Trudie’s most important role at the Centre is definitely that of staff mother and grandmother. Taking care of her “adopted” children is something she thrives on, and each is assured of a special place in her heart.

This lighthearted lady has a serious side as well though. Trudie says the value she’s gained from her life’s experiences is immeasurable. She adds that perhaps the hardest lesson she has learnt so far is that one pays dearly for mistakes made in the past. We of course eagerly drink up all the advice we can get from this wise lady!

Trudie really plays a vital role, both at the Centre and in the lives its many staff members – offering advice, laughing together, and like any mother has to do, crying with her kids.

We’re lucky to have her.