English Speaking Union
- In 1993, she assumed the chairmanship of the English-Speaking Union and used her formidable network of contacts to give the organisation a hitherto undreamed-of international dimension. The ESU was originally founded to strengthen relations between Britain, the United States and the English-speaking countries of the Commonwealth. While improving these traditional ties, Brigstocke oversaw the launch of nine new branches, in countries as diverse as China, Japan, Eastern Europe and Brazil where English was not the first language; she set up steering committees for two more.
- China is a typical example of her modus operandi. A headmistress colleague had just married the British ambassador to Beijing, so Brigstocke sent a message, "When you see Joan, tell her I have a little job for her." The "little job" was setting up a branch of the ESU in China. This was not strictly possible, as China had no NGOs at the time, but Joan did lay the foundations of the China Universities English-Speaking Association, and soon afterwards found herself, as Lady Appleyard, appointed a Deputy Chairman of the entire ESU. ("The Chinese loved Heather. She was their image of a glamorous English lady.") During Heather Brigstocke's chairmanship, the brave decision was taken to borrow, in order to carry out much-needed renovation of the ESU's Dartmouth Street premises.
- Anne Mustoe, Baroness Brigstocke Consummate chairman and charismatic High Mistress of St Paul's Independent on sunday, Friday, 7 May 2004