The end of an era…. 

…..and the beginning of a brand new adventure!  
4 weeks ago, I had no idea that my love and loyalty to my family would come before my career. Yet, on Good Friday, I was faced with the consequences of a decision. Dad, after carrying the beacon of light for Mallalieus of Delph had made a decision to retire. He has been a Managing Director of triumph. He has seen its rises and its falls like no other. He deserves his retirement more than any other. One of the most incredible, gentle, generous noble men I know has given his life to the textile industry and his decision, I know, did not come easily. In the complexities of his retirement, came a need for family solidarity. 

Fast forward to today and I am now facing my final days at Bailey Laine and Mallalieus of Delph. Like those last liaisons with a familiar lover that brings a lead weight to your throat that you can’t swallow or breath past as you suffocate in your last embrace and tender moments, I realise the little things I will miss. My solid little upstairs unit that are Linda and Sharon, the stationary, the name, the WOW! winner mug. Sibling banter with my little brother. My Dad in his office chair happy yet moany in his stressful workload. 

With these thoughts and words, tears are burning as they rapidly build to find a way to flood from the kohl soaked corner of my eye, nipping like the sharp sting of a nettle. I desperately do not not want to give into them or the pain and grief that parting will bring. I’m not ready for that journey yet. 

The mill is not a job, it is a vocation and an all-consuming, ambrosial entwining of heritage, hopes and passions. 

Whoever takes over once Dad retires and comes out of the business will follow a line of Mallalieus that have taken that Directors chair. They will be the first person that does not carry the Mallalieu name, to take up the chair and own and run this businesses. They have very big shoes to fill. 154 years worth of big shoes actually and they will be in for the most intoxicating experience of their life. I have learnt so much in my 3 short years here and I thought, just in case the person in question gets to read this, that I would take a moment to share some of this knowledge as someone new begins their own roller coaster ride at Mallalieus of Delph. 

What makes the mill tick is the employees. I have always said, that from a cleaner to a Managing Director, whatever the job, like a machine with a missing cog, without one of them, it doesn’t work. Usually full of happiness, they are full of initiative and are actively willing and generous beyond anything I have ever known before. They are alive to the tragedy of life as well as the fun, they have taught me to speak with them not to them and to capture the moment with instinct, meaning and most importantly, wit. They are the heartbeat and energy of this extraordinary place and will tell you what they need, but most importantly what you need. Listen to them. 

I have learnt to work with others. With people whose path my life would not ordinarily cross and what a gift they have been! Heroes, friends and champions. People that have inspired me and have cracked open my experience here and shown me such sagacity, strength, vision and punctiliousness. I thank them all from the deepest depths of my heart. Every single one of them are champions of this exciting hive of manufacturing glory. Most importantly, I have learnt to trust my little upstairs squad with my heart and soul. They are true lovers and fighters, dedicated and loyal beyond belief. You will need to find your own little squad. Whether you believe that or not, you will find out to your own cost. The employees here will listen to you, help you and support you. Your first failure will be in not letting them do so. They are the ones that will make your dreams here real. Your passion and belief in them will make you or break you. 

Richard Branson says, “look after your employees and the business looks after itself”. Whether they feel they are or have been looked after up to now, I don’t know. Only they will know that when their next employer takes over. 

I have learnt to love this place. Its unique smell, its dark corners, its creaking floorboards, its haunting emptiness felt mostly when I’ve needed to collect something at a weekend. I have learnt where my personal and professional boundaries were. I was born to please and on the whole, I have enjoyed a life filled with encouragement, delight and love. I walked into the mill three years ago expecting this to continue forever. After all, it is 154 years old so what would stop it in its wonderful tracks before my retirement? However, its blessed path has been crossed and in that, I have had to call on my beliefs, postulate and rectitude for guidance. I have put my family first because they are my life. Their health and happiness are my priority. We will walk out of here as the solid family unit that we are. Together. 

My decision mainly came because I will not allow myself to be excluded from the board room where decisions are made. For years before my arrival and more so in my time here, I have watched puppetry take place and I will not be one of those puppets. I know from experience in different jobs, how some management teams work. Pay the “minions” pittance whilst we take our millions. Lower their pay so that ours does not change. We were not one of those management teams. So, my friend (I use that term exceptionally loosely. My Dad has often said “there are no friends in business”) Karma is a beautiful thing for this kind of management strategy….I will watch and I will wait…

I have learnt that I have many friends. I have learnt that those friends support you through the thick and the thin. The good times and the tough. They are what makes life rich. Not money, not position, not buildings, not portfolios. These precious little things I have learnt and I am profoundly grateful for.

But, dear friend, no more lessons. I chose to leave because, as important and beloved as the Mill is to me, family, friends and health are far too important and should be put before any job. If I stay, I will not be loved and respected back now as I have been. It is not understood what I saw at the beginning of my journey here, what I felt and what I created from nothing and how it has grown into something so wonderful and how it would continue to do so. There will be a new set of rules that I did not sign up to and could not and will not stand by. Nothing is worth giving away my creative freedom for, it has been too hard fought for. 

I have happily given 3 years to Bailey Laine. It was my lover, my partner, my children and my future. I do not choose what I see, feel and do, it chooses me. I have spent my life developing skills to be able to hear my instincts, reveal my inner stories and to be able to communicate them. I need to listen now more than I ever have done before to reveal these truths. I have always used whatever medium best tells that story and having listened, I truly believe I have no story left to tell here now. 

There are a magnitude of experiences that have made me who I am but I honestly believe that the Mill has been the making of me. It has shown me my strengths, my weaknesses, my passions, my desires and most importantly my passion for creativity. Here, I have found my fight and true sense of belonging. I have stood up for what I believe in and tried to do it with kindness, care, compassion, professionalism and seriousness. However, in the wake of recent events, the mill will wrestle with what, at its core, it now stands for. It is still in the process of deciding and clarifying what its fight and its belonging now are. I had to choose to leave because I choose myself and more importantly, my family. Never think that my decision to step down was simply just about not wanting to be someone’s puppet. It was about personal trust and creative freedom. You must make sure that your own freedom is guaranteed. 

I hope whoever comes next can ask the right questions, not only of Mallalieus but of themselves and take on the challenge with independence, vigilance and resolve. Mallalieus deserves a passionate leader so fierce and true that they would do anything, and I mean anything, for what they believe in. It needs a leader who will shout through the valley it nestles in and all those beyond about what it is to be free and loving and one who is determined to make a difference to its success. 

Mallalieus of Delph will ALWAYS be part of me, and always pump through my veins. So, always remember, you are part of a magnificent line of intrepid, fierce, energetic mill owners and Directors; without them, its demise would have long passed and you wouldn’t be entering something steeped in magnificent, time-hallowed heritage. In its astonishing 154 year history, this warm bosom of humanity has been conceived, erected and led by free-thinkers, staunch to textiles and heritage. The minute you forget that, you will see your demise. As I plan and dream of the adventures I am yet to have, I hope you take the tiller with pride. It is with immense sadness that I say goodbye to this glorious, never to be forgotten chapter of my life.

I envy you so, but my heart cheers you on because it will always be my family name above that door. 

“Some people want a big house and a flash car whilst others want a cabin in the woods away from those kinds of people” 

New York, New York!

When you’re in a relationship, it’s wonderful to spend time with that person you love, but it’s also incredibly important to have independent adventures as well. Having your own solo adventures teaches you more about trust, commitment, sacrifice and most importantly, it gives you time to reconnect with yourself.

Not only are solo trips important, but so are trips with best friends. Last year I was invited to a wedding in New York. Not just any wedding. The wedding of the gorgeous, beautiful souls Robbie and Savannah. Robbie’s Mum, my friend, died in 2014 so it was an absolute honour to be invited to this delightful union and I was going to love every single second of it as much as Lynda would have if she’d had the delight if being here and being able to see her youngest son marry so joyously.

My friend Lucy’s husband works for BA which gave us the perfect opportunity to see The Big Apple together by popping ourselves on his friend’s and family list. Life is short and as much as we love what all we left behind for six days, this was going to be the girls holiday we had never had opportunity to do up until now. Why not? Life’s short!

New York turned out to be pretty awesome, especially for those who enjoy city breaks, walking (and oh boy, did we walk!), culture, history and exploring. Out first day, a fabulous first day of our adventure, consisted of Grand Central Terminal (a terminal not as station as it’s the start and end of a line and not a through station), getting caught in the most horrendous thunder storm ever, drinking gin whilst more wet than if we’d had an actual shower and powering through a very long day of travel to a decent time for bed! Oh boy was bed good…… We woke early which was handy because it meant we were out by 7.30 at at The Empire State Building by opening at 8am. We missed ALL the queues and were up at the 82nd floor by 08.10. It was a windy day but that didn’t spoil the phenomenal views. More breathtaking as an adult than the last time I had the pleasure of being up there when I was 15. We went on to explore a bit of the city before heading to World Trade Centre memorial. This to me was a respect visit more than anything else. As teenagers my Dad gave my brother and I the most special treat of being able to have a meal at the “Windows on the World” restaurant eating the most delicious food I have ever had still to this day. When that terrible day of horrific mass murder took place, it made me realise how very lucky we had been to have the pleasure of going there. Making memories together and coming away safely. And so, that was my reason for returning. To pay my respects to the chef that made that meal for us, that sadly didn’t make it out that day. Along with far too many others. I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming emotion that visit brought. I will never understand the selfie takers, or the groups of people smiling for photos at the site, but maybe that’s just the world we live in now. We have to have photographs of everything and everywhere to prove we were there. I will now not only remember the chef that made the best Steak Benedict I’ve ever tasted but the beautiful mother to be and her unborn child along with the other five people whose names I stood by that day.

We decided to head to Macy’s for the wedding list after such a poignant morning. Whilst here, we ate in Stella Trattoria where I had the best soup, cauliflower and truffle, I have ever tasted. It was divine! Full tums and raring to go again, we headed to Times Square. Personally I don’t know what all the hype is about. We were soon accosted by Minnie Mouse, a Storm trooper and Super Mario who took photos with us and then demanded $10 for the privilege – wow, I was going to plaster that picture EVERYWHERE when I had the chance having paid for it to be taken on my own phone. No social media would go unmissed with that one. I felt violated and “got” I never get “got” After a full day out in the sunshine we whipped back to the hotel for a quick change before heading for The Ride Experience. Unsure of what to expect really, it was an absolute hoot, educational and full of laughter! There hadn’t been any shortage of that anyway but wow did we chuckle on this tour!  THE RIDE is an one-of-a-kind interactive entertainment experience where the streets of New York City are the stage, and you’ve got front row seats! The comedic hosts welcome you aboard the moving theater which navigates a 75 minute route through Midtown Manhattan and Times Square. Your hosts are trained in improvisation so that each performance is fresh depending on what’s happening on the street that day. We rounded off the very busy day with too many cocktails, more giggles and a fabulous Panini from the deli across the road.

Our second day in New York was spent losing my American pancake with butter and maple syrup virginity on Lexington Avenue in “Eat here now”, exploring a tiny corner of Central Park, which was a sheer delight, (especially finding the fountain that “The Producers” was filmed in and “The Stuart Little” boating lake)  walking side streets and drinking gorgeous, refreshing Raspberry lemonade in East Pole on 133 E 65th Street. As it was Wedding day, it was time to head to the hairdressers and then back to the hotel to finish getting ready for the wedding of the year! Wow! It really was a stunner of a wedding that it was a total pleasure to be a part of.

I can’t lie, I rolled in very late (or rather early morning!) from the wedding as we had extended the celebrations from the venue to The Viceroy rooftop bar and therefore, I probably wasn’t as  fresh as a daisy as perhaps I made out to be on the Sunday morning. Still, I braved it out, we hopped in a taxi and headed to Pier 16 for our big yellow water taxi tour of New York and the best bit, The Statue of Liberty. Oh how I love her. I love her and The Chrysler Building like you wouldn’t know possible to love a building and a statue and I was so excited. Despite no longer being with us, my Gran in a round about way paid for this boat trip so it was a very special one indeed for me. One which I was going to soak up and love for all that it was in all its glory.  There was no such thing as camera phones or selfies when I was 15, so I was going to take SO many photos and selfies to remember these moments in time. There was a very special moment in time as we headed from seeing the statue back to Brooklyn Bridge. Our tour guide Heidi, was impeccable and her knowledge was immense. She had gone quiet and was giving everyone their opportunity for quiet moments or just general moments for photographs. Some music came on just as I was looking out to the horizon and having a teary moment thinking of Granny and how much she would love that I was on this adventure with my friend. Granny was a big Neil Diamond music lover. So much so, not long before she died, she couldn’t speak to me on the phone during “An audience with Neil Diamond”

“I can’t take now, Neil Diamond is on the television. Oh and it’s on until after my bedtime, I’m staying up late so ring me tomorrow” she said down the phone

“But you rang me Gran and I missed the call so I was just ringing you back” was my reply.

Gosh I miss that beauty! ?Anyway, I digress. Being such a lover of his music, we had Beautiful Noise at the crematorium after her funeral service at church.

On the boat, now in New York, thinking of my Gran and how proud she would be of me, the song was playing a tune I didn’t know but a voice I did. I turned to Lucy,

“Who is this singing?” I asked her

“Neil Diamond, America” was her reply

I got goosebumps from head to toe. The tears came and that was my very special holiday moment in time. I will never forget it. Or her. The rest of the day was spent walking and exploring, we walked trough the financial district, China Town, Little Italy, Soho and Greenwich Village. I adore street art and I was blown away by the beauty and variety of it as we walked through quirky little streets. I was in my element. Lucy’s little legs weren’t so much so but she soldiered on. Bless her to every one of my strides she was doing two. I’m convinced she must have done twice the amount of steps I did everyday!

We found a cute little tapas bar with the most glorious black and white tile art on the wall. We have a gorgeous grilled cheese and ham sandwich and churros. I had never had churros before and these were an absolute orgasm on the tongue! We carried on walking through the most glorious streets and by the most spectacular buildings I’ve ever seen. The architecture in New York really is something else. We had a big last night out planned courtesy of my Dad and brother. They bought me a voucher for Christmas for a restaurant called Del Friscos.

We had a fabulous  waiter that recommended the VIP cocktail. This included pineapple that had been soaked in vodka for 24 days. Well I like a social drink but two of these are all you need for a squiffy feeling (and at $18 each are probably all you want to pay for!) Lucy had a gorgeous vegetable platter and I ate  a steak that would have been fit for Henry 8th topped with Alaskan King Crab butter. We were greedy and had dessert. I hadn’t had a New York Cheesecake experience on this holiday so I opted for that and Lucy a creme brûlée. It really was a gorgeous meal and dining experience never to be forgotten but if you’re heading here, it’s pricey. Our bill was $255 with a 20% tip on top so it’s not a cheap option.

I had a night time liaison with the Chrysler building on the way home. I think she’s more beautiful by night than in the daytime if that’s at all possible!

Our last day was spent walking, relaxing and eating (again!) in Smith and Wollenskys. This was mainly due to that fact that The Lexington Hotel wanted to charge us $15 per bag for luggage storage a total of $60 and I quite simply refused. A totally ridiculous, overpriced and unnecessary charge for such service!

I chose Smith and Wollensky because this had been another place I’d visited with my Dad and Brother as a 15 year old. I told the waiter about this and he gave us a little tour of upstairs (as this is where we had sat as a family) and then brought us a free coconut cake dessert to share. Service with a smile!!

We headed back to the hotel lobby with our bags and people watched (something I love to do. I make up stories about their lives to go with them and what I think they’re doing there!)  before heading to JFK for our flight home.

I love Instagram and sharing snips of life on “Your Story”  (not always to my friend’s and family’s joy) but I had done plenty in New York and therefore had plenty of these stored. After watching these videos, it’s evident that Lucy and I had an incredible time exploring this American city. More importantly, we got to spend some much needed quality time together. Some of the best memories you can ever make with your best friend is when travelling together. It doesn’t even have to be far or for a long period of time. When you explore new places and try new things, these are the memories that stick out the most when you reflect on your life and what better person to bring along for the ride than one of your best friends.

Oh and a final note – Jet lag, something which I thought was mind over matter, is evil. It’s the actual Devil. I’m still not recovered 3 weeks later. I knew I’d given up long haul for a reason!

New York, until next time, thank you for the joy and the memories. You’re a stunner!

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day for the childless adults.

 

This Blog isn’t the Blog I had planned. It’s far from it. I wanted something more positive and so, instead, it is a general statement from the friend that doesn’t have children.

 

I am so often asked a question.

 

“Do you have children?”

 

No, I don’t have children. For many reasons, I don’t have children. Why is this one of the first questions people ask? We aren’t all here to produce offspiring, whatever the reason for that might be.

 

Anyway, it made me think. It made me think about all the friends that parents around the world have, that don’t have children of their own. The childless friends, for whatever reason, are a pretty amazing tribe of humans.

Let me tell you why…..

They give a genuine *poo* about your kids.

They came to your children’s parties when you invited them. Not because they had a child of their own that dragged them there but because they actually wanted to come.

They laugh at the stories you tell about your children, not to amuse you or because they can relate to those stories but because they are actually interested.

They came to play pits and froze their arses off in the freezing adult area because they wanted to watch your child grow, develop and learn. They came to the child friendly restaurants and ate curly fries whilst your children played on their phone, knocked over their drink or ate so much ice cream at the ice cream station that they puked on their expensive shoes. They did this instead of being at all the cool places with the cool people that invited them out. Why would they want to be at those places when they love your kids and they love you?!

If they chose not to have kids, admire them for that. Some of them desperately wanted kids and instead of being jealous or bitter towards you for having all of yours, they relished in yours, they love them with every bone in their bodies and with all of their soul.

I am pretty sure you find it hard to remember a time before you had kids. Would you have been gracious and cool enough to sacrifice one of your Saturday nights then, to sit on the floor at a friend’s house with their kids and play Frustration or watch The Grinch for the 589th time? We are the tribe that are willing to do all this for your children because they matter to us. They make a difference to our lives in so many ways and we love it!

In this, we don’t want you to thank us at all, that’s not what this is about.

We want to thank you…..

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing your children, not because you feel sorry for us, but because you know we care and that we will make a difference in their lives and because you know we will enrich their lives. To share a child like that is a pretty amazing thing for a parent to be able to do. Thank you! Thanks for letting us be part of their lives. We love being with you, we love being with them. Even with the puke, with the bugs and with the nits. We wouldn’t change that for the world because they are a massive part of ours and have given us some of the best memories we have!

Happy 65th Birthday Dad

IMG_2662It hardly seems like two minutes since the 60th Birthday celebrations were in full swing for my Dad yet here we all are 5 years later. Minus a few but with others added to our family the celebrations are in full swing once more. We have had a family meal already. There are meals with friends and a party to come to celebrate this milestone and I for one, can’t wait.

There is never a day that passes by that I take my Dad for granted. I know how lucky I am to have him by my side. I managed (goodness knows how after 4 house moves since the occasion!) to find the speech I wrote for his 60th Birthday and decided to share it. It was written from the heart then and when I was reading the words all over again, they still rang so very true.

“Today we gather here to celebrate one man’s birthday. We eat, drink, laugh and dance to celebrate his special day but we live in a fast paced world, where the hours of time pass us so fast that sometimes we truly forget why we do the things we do.

As such, allow us to remember that today is not just my Dad’s special day, but rather a special day for all of us who love him – for we have been blessed with another day, another hour, another year with our beloved. It is we who celebrate because we know that we have the comfort of his love, the security that  only his heart can provide, and his strength that guides us in our life’s path.

To best understand what a father endures, a great poet, Kahlil Gibran once said,

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.”

As such My Dad as the bow has endured being bent as a bow does so that Neil and I, the arrows, may travel far and strong.

Many know that my Dad has done a great deal for both our family and friends but most don’t know what it takes to do what he has continually achieved. The man has awoken consistently for the last 40 years, to spend the entire working day, from early morning to late at night, as the rest of us played, watched TV or read books, sitting in his office buried in paperwork, travelling on business or simply making sure his business thrived.

When I was younger I would miss him and almost resented him for that. I would say, “I would rather have a poor Dad but one who would spend more time with me” But this was my youth speaking. I was too young to understand that my Dad was working so hard so that he can provide a better life for Neil and I. He has sacrificed his time, his life, so that other’s may live.

He has continuously stood as a pillar to both our nuclear and extended family. He is there for those within our community, those who simply seek advice from my Dad. Many have come in times of despair. He soon lightens the mood, something which I have learnt to do when my friends now come to me. For that and so much more, I thank you Dad. They come to him when a good man’s friendship is necessary. They are lucky to have him touch their lives in such a special way.

The truth is my Dad gave me a wealth – the greatest riches in life – he taught me how to love, to love unconditionally and he taught me how to be there for the people around me. My Dad’s lessons have taught us all and have taught us well.

Today Neil is beginning to follow in his footsteps and as of yet I have never seen his advise another in a wrong way. He so often helps people who need him. This virtue was not taught at Graphic Design college or in woodwork lessons, but rather, he learned it from watching our Dad.

This is but just one of Dad’s achievements. There are so many a=I could speak of, such as teaching us how to challenge ordinary thinking. To think outside the box. He triumphed over adversity and strived to re build his business and did like a phoenix from the ashes. He was challenged and he deservedly won. Knowing how hard he worked for this makes me swell with sheer pride.

So today remember, we are not here just to eat, drink, laugh and dance, but rather we are here to be reminded that we have the opportunity to spend one more day, one more year, and simply just one more time with the man that has loved us all unconditionally.

To Dad Xx”

 

International Women’s Day 2017

I was asked to write a Blog for the business page for International Women’s Day. I couldn’t post it on the work website and personally I felt it would have been a waste not to post it anywhere. People have told me for so long that I should write and so my Blogging adventure finally begins.

When I saw women unite around the world for Women’s walk, I couldn’t stop myself from being overwhelmed by sheer pride that together and individually, woman, really are wonderful. I am so glad I am a woman, because we are incredible. I mean really, just stop for a minute and think of everything women can do that men can’t. Oh my days are we lucky!

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year the motto is “Be Bold For Change”. Change can be driven by yourself as an individual or by organisations but it starts by being aware of the need and being bold. Challenge conscious or unconscious bias, encourage gender-balanced leadership and ensure women and men’s contributions are valued equally.

As a woman in business, I face challenges daily, because I am a woman. Do I let them bother me? No! There are things that bother me, I am only human but these challenges because of my anatomical make up, make no difference to me. I know they make a difference to other women and I strive to be a person that can help these women. To strengthen them, to offer them hope where they fear there is none.

I was raised by a passionate, proud, stubborn woman. I have all those traits in me, all of which I am immensely proud of. My Gran rocked. My Gran is still today, my reason for continuing on my journey. I know she would be proud of me and I only wish she could be here to help me celebrate my successes. I will continue to be passionate and to work hard because that is what my Gran did until the day she died at 96 years of age. I am lucky, I have had so many women in my life that have inspired me. Teachers (my art teacher in particular, whom I have recently got back in touch with and she is as inspirational now as she was then) colleagues old and new, acquaintances and friends from all walks of life. Ones that have guided me, that have stopped me, that have encouraged me. Ones that have taught me wonderful lessons and ones that have without doubt made me who I am today. Women that show me sides to life that I never knew existed. Not everyone has their tribe behind them, driving them to get the best out of life. That is why it is so important on days like International Women’s Day that we unite and celebrate every single woman around the world. To make the women with no close by tribe, realise that we are one tribe together striving for the same outcomes.

I am sure that many 1000’s of people like a certain Piers Morgan hate that women have “March for Women” days. Days when we are visibly seen to be supporting and empowering each other. I am sure Donald Trump hates the fact that there are women all around the world that would stand up to him and take him down in a simple sentence. By challenging these opinions, by working together and showing a united front we can change the mind set of such people. That is why we need to empower one another to do great things. Simple acts lead to great achievements.

It is 2017. Our sisters before us did not give up and they have come so far, yet we have still so far to go and that is OK because it offers challenges and chances. Many would say “it will never happen” or “it is unachievable”. It is not. Rome was not built in a day. As with anything in life there will always be doubters, pessimists, “Dementors” that take everything and give nothing and see no possibility of change. To them I can only say, as a woman, change can either offer you challenges or it can threaten you. Your beliefs pave your way to a successful life or they block you.

As a tribe, united in passion for equality, we can move forward with momentum and achieve more great things. The Suffragettes did not give up. Malala Yousafzai, did not give up. They stood up, they faced up, they charged forward and they spearheaded change. Let us do the same. I want a world where we value every single woman. Where we are equal regardless of ethnicity, social background, political choice. It is a mountain but every summit can be reached whichever path has to be taken to get there. Nothing is unachievable. Whether you are a Homemaker, a women running multi million pound company or a women in Africa setting up their own businesses to sell their beautiful crafts to simply provide food, shelter, an education for their families, ultimately we are all driven by the same things. Passion, pride and love. Take a chance. Hold on tight to your values and goals and take a risk. Be a role model and everyone else will follow.

Whether you are a Mother, Sister, Aunt, Grandma, Entrepreneur, Activist, Feminist, Actor, Homemaker or Artist, individually or together, like it or not, women are changing the world. In unity there is empowerment. For our future women we must unite to empower.

“The problem for all women is we’re identified by how we look instead of by our heads and hearts” Gloria Steinem

Special Notes – I would just like to give a special mention to the following women who have literally, in your own ways, whether you know it or not, made me who I am today. Whether I have known you forever, or for a short time, you have somehow shaped me. For that, I thank you with all my heart and I owe you a gin. Or chocolate. Whichever you prefer!

You beautiful, luscious, wonderful women!

Linda – You taught me the life skill of swimming. I love swimming. I love water. I love you. You are now my workplace rock and I couldn’t do any of it without you at my desk.

Marion – You saw “a girl with eyes like saucers” that was a little bit vulnerable and hugely scared of life. You believed in me. You guided me and I will be forever grateful. I am so glad we are back in touch after 18 years. I don’t think you will ever truly know the positive impact you had on my life.

Alice – That a woman’s body is amazing and never to give up because it does happen. Even when you really don’t think it ever will!

My Divas – Really, need I say more. You are all unique and offer more than even I can put into words.

Gill – You utter rock. I don’t believe I need to say any more than that.

Lynda B – You taught me to be brave. You motivated me to step outside my comfort zone and I did. And hey, look at me now form up there in the clouds!

Stacey – You taught me acceptance. You are an amazing Mummy to all three of your beautiful boys, with all their needs, you never moan, you simply set out to give them the best. Always.

Kim – Your strength and independence inspire me. You taught that the life path we want for ourselves may not be the one that is meant for us and that embracing what life throws at us makes us who we are and makes us stronger. You taught me that life gets us down but staying down is not an option. You have also taught me that it’s never too late to go on adventure of a lifetime!

Jane – You see beautiful souls and you saw mine. That made me believe I was a good and worthy person when for years, in fact nearly all my life, I had been told I wasn’t. Thank you for seeing beyond the exterior wall.

Bianca – The epitome of inspirational. You have made a legacy that has and will go on to help thousands of people either directly or indirectly. Without you there would have been so many lost and scared families. Because of you and what you have built, they have never had to be alone. You inspire me daily. You also taught me to be humble.

V – You taught me more about love than I ever knew possible but mainly, that it always finds a way.