Events have been held across Monmouthshire to celebrate the achievements of the county’s women with Caldicot and Monmouth Comprehensive schools running special International Women’s Day occasions for girl students. A variety of speakers attended Caldicot School following a Facebook appeal asking local people to nominate women who inspire them – 101 comments were received with some amazing examples of the difference that women make in their communities every day.
Inspiring stories were shared and discussions held to help girls consider their future goals. Speakers included:
• Catherine Baker – local volunteer who makes a difference in her community as part of a Rogiet parkrun (Co-Event Director), Friends of Rogiet Countryside Park, Magor Rainbows, Magor and Undy Crime Prevention Panel and Magor CIW Primary PTFA. Catherine said: “My advice is to do the things that scare you. There will be so many hurdles in your life to overcome but you won’t succeed if you don’t try. I do something unpaid to benefit the community. No one can make you volunteer. If you embrace the idea of giving up time to help others I would recommend volunteering; you will learn new skills, increase confidence and expand your network. Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”
• Chloe-Beth Morgan-James is a Welsh beauty queen who won the Miss Wales 2008 contest and competed in the Miss World 2008 competition held in South Africa. Chloe shared that: “People who achieve things that they never thought they never could inspire me. People make a snap judgement about me. It’s helped shaped me as a person. Other girls need to support each other e.g. around period poverty. Being judged by other women and putting them down for achieving something. Always be kind as you never know the struggle the girl next to you might be going through and you never know when that girl might need to help you. Filter out negative energy and have a genuine, real group around you – to be there for your friends, your mum or your sister. Be kinder to each other and be kind to yourself. Don’t judge, don’t make snap comments and be kind.”
Carol Bogue-Lloyd – VP of Europe Retail and Consumer Products who has been responsible for large Contact Centres and Customer Service Operations across the globe and brings over 30 years’ experience from the Utilities and IT Customer Contact Centres and Service Desks. Carol highlighted: “Nothing’s impossible – go for it. Learn and much as you can and enjoy what you’re doing with a smile. This has been a brilliant day and it’s been inspirational, we can take on the world.”
• Jayne Brown – who offers sports and fitness days to leisure centres and schools and works within the Health Care and Complementary Therapy sector. Jayne inspired everyone in the room explaining how: “You can do anything you like, you’re fabulous – we’re all equal. Work hard and ask questions. Push yourself and your friends and that’s how we can all succeed. If they are looking to set up their own business, link to Big Ideas Wales and register and we’ll send you the details. Any teacher or head teachers in schools, colleges and universities who’d like a role model to come in to speak to them should visit the Big Ideas Wales web pages.”
• Irene Cameron– who was awarded an MBE for Services to Education in 1995. Irene was appointed as a magistrate in 1981 and a Member of Young Offenders Tribunal. Irene was the chair of Newport Committee for Macmillan Cancer Support for many years and acted as a local councillor. Irene commented: “I like to get involved in things to make a difference, I have found today quite inspiring.”
• Eira Culverwell from Big Ideas Wales – runs a company called Resolveit who provides training and workshops in how to stay safe within the Defence and Security sector. Eira holds three black belts, a fourth Dan in Kyokushin Karate and runs a martial arts club in her spare time. Eira shared: “I was bullied in two schools and I wasn’t as confident as I am now. I hated going to school because every day was a complete nightmare. Your power is the only confidence you can have. Find something you’re passionate about and run it full pelt. Even when training as a black belt I refused to hit back in anger. I live, train and work. I study every day. If your idea is weird and you love it – run with it, it might make you money. Write down your goals, they’re really important; I write down my goals and I follow them”
• Maddison Davies – who holds four different black belts and was the youngest ever Team Wales Taekwondo member. Maddison’s career high so far was being a Commonwealth Games Bronze and an Olympic Qualifier Bronze. Within the next couple of years, Maddison hopes to make it to the Olympic Games and win gold. Maddison expressed: “I am inspired about being different to other girls like myself. I may be small, but the fight in me, the ability to dream, the desire, the passion and drive to push through adversity to push through hardship that doesn’t come with height or weight or gender – that comes with heart. As women, we survive and we may seem small but we are mighty.”
• Joanna Goodwin – ex-Caldicot School pupil and Head of Digital Practice at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Joanna advised young people to: “Be a boat! You are a warship with all the guns and armour around you – don’t let any rubbish going around you make you sink. I’m inspired by people who challenge the norm and push to build things better and do things a bit differently.”
Helen Kings – Managing Director at Touchstone, a UK-wide property management firm which specialises in the private rented sector and build to rent. Helen said: “The more you take yourself get out of your comfort zone, get involved, ask questions and be enthusiastic, the quicker you will grow. Get out, talk to people and try lots of different things.”
• Andrea Rodley – County Commissioner for Girl Guiding Gwent while being a full-time mum. Andrea said: “I want to give girls the opportunity to get out and experience fun, friendship and travel. Don’t be self-conscious. Just be joyous in everything that you do.”
• Eleri Rosier – a reader in Marketing and strategy at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Eleri is a volunteer for Raglan Music Festival which takes place throughout the weekend of 7th/9th June. Eleri feels: “Inspired by people who push themselves completely out of their comfort zone and who achieve amazing things despite overcoming difficult obstacles. You can be whatever you want to be, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”.
• Elaine Theaker – who runs her own law firm, Advantage Legal. Last year at the age of 54 Elaine rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in a tiny rowing boat and achieved two Guinness World Records. Elaine described how: “try it – you can astonish yourself. I’m proud of starting my own business from scratch. I’m delighted that the opportunity was there so I took it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do – but by saying yes to opportunities that come along that opportunity might lead to something else. I finished my A levels not knowing that I wanted to do, I tried a job in law. Don’t ever turn something down as it might just be a life changing opportunity. There are no silly questions.”
At Monmouth Comprehensive seven inspirational guest speakers shared their career journey and success stories with girls from Years 9 and 10. Speakers ranged from a foreign diplomat to fire fighters.
Cllr Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member for Social Justice said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from the amazing women in Monmouthshire today. I feel really proud to live in a county where people can achieve their goals whatever they might be – career, sport, volunteering – the list goes on. Some fantastic discussions were held today, with lots of advice for young people about how to plan for the future. Girls shared their views on how our communities can improve now and in the future. I hope that the young people who took part in the discussions today feel inspired to pursue their dreams – whatever they might be. I fully support this year’s International Women’s Day campaign which is committed to building a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play.”