We took some time away from the business of copy-editing to hear from Hester von Wielligh, a member of PEG since 2006, about her thoughts and her experiences as a long-standing member of the Guild. She, too, is celebrating PEG’s 30th anniversary.

Hester is one of PEG’s select Life Members. These are some of the questions we posed to her, together with her responses.


When did you join PEG and what were your reasons for doing so?

My PEG application form asked: ‘How did you hear about PEG?’ My response: ‘Followed link on Centre for the Book’s website.’ From such serendipity grows engagement and, finally, a valued network of colleagues and a circle of friends. In 2004, I was transitioning from full-time employment as a public relations officer to full-time, self-employment as a text editor and translator. My broek het gebewe!

Joining PEG introduced me to other editors, each with their own skills and experience. What has always struck me has been the generosity with which our members share their knowledge and time.

In 2003, PEG marked its 10-year anniversary and, in the November 2003 issue of PEGboard, Marion Boers wrote:

Not long after that, Marion became chair and PEG began to grow in all directions, rather like Topsy (but not at all Turvy). Five years later, Marion became the president of the International Federation of Translators and John Linnegar took over as our national chair.

A great deal was happening. PEG began to shape an accreditation scheme and lay the groundwork for continuing professional development. Marketing members’ services became a priority. PEGboard was transformed into a fully electronic publication. PEG branched out from being national (with meetings held mainly in Pretoria and Johannesburg) to two local branches serving Gauteng and Cape Town.


You played a big role in taking PEGboard online in 2008. Can you tell us a little about that?

PEGboard’s birth as an electronic publication was driven by practical considerations: printing costs were going up; members were spread all over the country and new ones were being added almost daily, making it complicated and labour-intensive to keep up a mailing list and get new issues to the post office in time. The editorial team was likewise geographically scattered, and many wits were scattered in the production process. The solution: Go digital.

It was not a painless solution, and in my time as editor, it was sometimes very hard indeed to meet and survive deadlines. I have a huge respect for the editorial teams that succeeded me and developed PEGboard from a rather hit-or-miss publication to the solidly informative, professional product we now regularly receive.


What does it mean for you to be a Life Member of PEG?

Being made a Life Member during Isabelle Delvare’s time as chair came as a surprise. ‘Who, me?’ It’s a position that constantly challenges me to plough back into my organisation. I’m reminded that I’m grey and wrinkled and my editorial brain cells quite often backfire and short-circuit, which makes me increasingly passionate about engaging younger members to join the volunteers who form the backbone of our organisation.

We are celebrating our 30 years thanks to the many busy bees who gave and continued to give generously of their knowledge and time. Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu: We are PEGgers through other PEGgers. Our influence as an association of language practitioners must continue to grow and inspire our industry.

Feature image created on Canva.

Photos of Hester von Wielligh supplied by herself.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Hester von Wielligh

Hester von Wielligh has been tinkering with language ever since she discovered comics and, at the age of six, libraries. The rest is history. After matriculating at Linden High School in 1968, she obtained a BA (Languages) at Unisa and started out as a cub advertising translator at the then Perskor publishing company. Becoming a journalist was a dream come true, first at Rapport and later Die Vaderland, both Afrikaans-language papers. Like many journalists before her, Hester found the transition to corporate communication a logical step. Between 1983 and 2003 she was able to indulge in creative writing and editing, moving from Wêreldspektrum encyclopaedia to the legendary TrustBank with its red carpets and finally the National Library of South Africa. Today she is self-employed, most of the time working with her elderly minipin, Muisie, snoozing on her lap.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.