Rupam Baoni, Writer and Artist

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The smaller triumphs contribute to the complete oeuvre comprising one’s life and its greater achievements. No happiness is complete or accomplishment laudable unless it stands upon a foundation of contentment and peace in our everyday lives. For a woman especially this is not just paramount but also a primal need because she shuttles between various domestic commitments alongside her idealistic ones. The family, friends, their health and well being, my receptiveness to the world around me, my energy to love and be in love after all these years… and then yes, to find that an odd poem of mine, a piece of writing or artwork has touched a spot in someone’s life, or has taken on its own mysterious flight and is resonant with them: all this put together would perhaps be my greatest achievement at the end of the day.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I struggle with the word motivation because over the years I’ve realised that disciplining myself to working consistently everyday helps me in becoming sentient to those higher moments that might startlingly present themselves to me in the midst of it all. Having said that it is also true that tiny things like seeing sunlight filter through an autumn tree, smoke rising from the chimney of a house I might pass on a train journey, a chance meeting with someone extraordinary in the most ordinary of circumstances, a word or sentence I hear or read somewhere – all this too does stimulate me into writing or painting or carving something that may or may not have anything to do with whatever incited it in the first place. I guess it is this energy pulsating everywhere – in nature, in places, in people, their pains, hopes, emotions, the stories or songs throbbing within them – which touches me intensely, impelling me to write, paint or carve.

What do you owe your mother?

My mother is the organic force in my life. There is nothing false or pretentious about her and there are no embellishments lining her speech. She has taught me the value of honesty, of simplicity, of living within one’s means and maintaining equilibrium in life, love and relationships, of the importance of being orderly and of decluttering my outer world so I may explore freely the convolutions within in my search for that higher truth, whatever medium I might choose to work with.

Which women inspire you and why?

 Gosh so many of them! Frida Kahlo in her re-birthing of herself after her accident, pursuing relentlessly her colours despite her multiple surgeries and the debilitating pains she had to live with all her life and most of all drawing from those very moments of darkness her stimulus to paint; Barbara Hepworth in her tenacity to seek the truth despite all odds in her domestic life as well as from her male counterparts; Maya Angelou’s wildfire heart, the fearlessness that bristles through her works; Kiran Bedi, the first woman IPS officer in India who has combined so beautifully, policing with kindness, empathy, reintegration, in her correctional approach to handling prisoners and other offenders; then also a very dear friend of mine who fights her  MS valiantly everyday and finds new hope and laughter in all of life …oh the names could go on forever from the past or those forming the fabric of our daily lives– in their grit, their dedication, their strength to embrace their many other commitments alongside what they’ve set out to achieve. I am inspired by women who can pursue their higher goals without disregarding the beauty of womanhood in all its compassion and tenderness.

What are you reading?

Apart from those countless research books on Barbara Hepworth and twentieth century art and artists related to my current project, I am dipping in and out of Pablo Neruda’s “100 Love Sonnets”, each poem of which startles me every time I read it in either its sensuousness or his ability to grab one’s guts and seek out the visceral. One other book that is my constant companion is the Bhagwad Gita, which I feel is a great manual for daily living and thankfully with no religious affinities. It talks simply about the value of performing one’s tasks consistently and to the utmost without the desire of an outcome.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

There are not very many really mentionable instances except back in the Nineties after my first book was published and well-received that a much older and established poet/poetry editor of a prestigious publication house whom I had long admired, hugely praised my writings (which was indeed flattering to a twenty year old), luring me with the prospect of publishing my second collection before beginning to make inappropriate advances to me. I did of course reject his offer of publication but remember being shaken up tremendously and disillusioned for quite some time after that about the power that men held, the status of women in society and this lack of recognising a woman’s merit in view of her physical attributes. Incidents like this I guess prepare us for a life of future hurdles and make us strong but I worry for the younger girls everywhere who are vulnerable.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

If any human being or creature is discriminated against or not respected as an equal being then we certainly cannot call ourselves evolved people living in a civilised world. A sense of respect and equality needs to be inculcated in the minds of all people and from the very beginning. For this I think it is imperative we take parenthood very seriously and have children only when we’re committed to nurturing them well and into individuals who have developed a sound rational mind that can perceive and distinguish between right from wrong, even challenge us when we are wrong. It has been established that most people inclined to certain behavioural patterns, to criminal acts, paraphilic and other disorders or those harbouring prejudices towards others are merely acting upon instincts, scars, habits developed in early childhood. When children experience warmth, love, confidence, respect and equality towards all at home, they will carry that respect along with them in later life. Having said that I do feel that the world is improving tremendously with every generation. The inequalities and biases that our grandparents and parents grew up with were righted somewhat among our generation and our children seem to be so much fairer and evolved compared to us. I have great hope in the world being a much better place in their hands.

Describe your perfect day?

Early morning start with yoga, meditation, a brisk walk in the park or the woodlands nearby (and feel the life-force everywhere) before sitting down to a creatively productive day that winds up with a girly heart-to-heart with my daughter back at university, a quick catch-up with my parents about their well-being and that of my family back in India, then finally curling up over a quiet mug of evening tea with my husband, listening to music we both love or just being – that’s when I know all’s right with the world – and my day complete. 

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

I don’t know about statues really (because I feel statues tend to distance the glorified one from the onlooker) but I would very much like the works of many of these remarkable women living here over the ages, recognised and disseminated everywhere – the Cornish beaches, libraries, schools, parks, town centres, public places etc. in the form of their sculptures, books, plays, pieces of music, their poetry or words inscribed and for all to absorb –so their spirit transfers itself to that of the places and reminds all that these were great women living here, and that there are great women everywhere in our own mothers, daughters, spouses, who possess exceptional talents and need to be recognized and celebrated just as Barbara Hepworth, Rowena Cade, Dora Russell and others were.

Give us a tip?

Writing: When the words refuse to come, write down the most honest sentence that comes to mind…and the skein begins to unravel, liberating those primordial truths trapped within.

Painting: Let your colours sing, fight, dance with each other… because from midst that riot will emerge the perfect harmony.

Stone: Hold it in the palm of your hand and sit still until its pulse falls in step with yours and you’re a part of the matrix… in flesh, blood, soul.

… and finally, a poem dedicated to women.

ultimate form

when you made me

you plucked fires from

furnaces, wove them into the

windstorms and drew

my breath. You tipped fronds

filled with dew, carried

back and forth palmfuls from

rivulets and bathed

me, forehead down, to allow

the bleeding. You dug

out strips of earth, carved my

shoulders, breasts and

innards to give me form. From

the morning Sun you drew

the colours and gave me light

so I might love

Rupam Baoni is a critically acclaimed writer and artist living in London and distributes her time between writing, painting, sculpting and service towards pertinent social causes. Her poems, short stories and essays appear in literary journals and newspapers. Her first book of poems Green Red and Amber, published at the age of nineteen prompted positive reviews in leading literary magazines and newspapers. She was youngest of twenty-one international poets invited to prestigious poetry readings alongside the US Poet Laureate Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon and others of repute and has since then attended many literary festivals, seminars and conferences. She gives talks on art, philosophy and organizes workshops on painting, art appreciation and creative writing around UK and India. A huge admirer of the sculpture, philosophy, and (globally undervalued) vision of Barbara Hepworth’s, she is currently working on a book that delves into the psychological and sensual aspects of the sculptor’s works and workmanship, apart from getting together a new collection of poems, essays, short stories.

“When I was writer-in-residence at the Hypatia Trust for nearly a month in September 2009, I fell deeply in love with Cornwall. It has since then become a second home for me and I keep going back whenever I can to its startling stretches of blues, greens, umbers, its beautiful people, its raw energy that is enticing in a visceral sort of manner. I find poems buried beneath its stones, paintings splashed over its cliff-tops and sculptures carving its landforms. Also, my research work on Hepworth in and around Cornwall has been a fascinating journey and I can so well relate to Barbara Hepworth’s love and connection to the place being the outsider that she was and yet feeling that twinge whenever she had to leave it, even if it was for a short time.”

www.rupambaoni.com

Jessica Cox, Mother, Surfer, Entrepreneur.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Travelling the world surfing on my own from the age of 18 has been an amazing experience and one I have learnt so much from. It was something that when I was younger I could only of dreamt of as I came from a family surviving on benefits. 

Running my own business and bringing joy to people! But ultimately it has to be my daughter, bringing a new life to this world is a rollercoaster, but the most amazing thing I have ever done.  

What motivates you to do what you do?

Selfishly I get great joy from bringing others joy! When I see people achieve something they didn't think they could, even something that might seem small like putting on a wetsuit, I can see a new sense of confidence and empowerment which I know they will take away with them. It is something very special. I try to create a safe, joyous space, which encourages and embraces, enabling this special process. 

I feel at home in the sea and nature and anytime I'm there it feeds me. To have this as part of my job is my dream, so I'm following that and it seems to be working! Over the years I have had some of the most amazing experiences and comments from the women I have worked with and this motivates me every day. 

I also believe passionately about working with nature, protecting it and harvesting its fruits. By sparking a love for it we can then spark a passion for protecting it. 

I decided to work with women as I saw a real lack of confidence in many women and girls I worked with or have met in my life, including myself. A lack of confidence to try something new, be physically active or have a healthy sense of looking after ourselves. We are constantly bombarded with images of how we should look, behave and act. Most of the time it’s totally unrealistic and can cause a lifetime of low self-confidence, eating disorders and depression. I want whole heartedly to conquer this in the women I meet. I believe we do this by supporting each other, creating a community of women and girls where we celebrate our uniqueness, all shapes and sizes, ages, disabilities, mental health disorders those that have suffered abuse, deprivation, bullying, we are all wonderful in our own way, and I hope to in some way uncover this in their hearts.  

What do you owe your mother?

My Mum grew up on a council estate in Doncaster, she left home at 19 and went her own way as a hippy, embracing music, community and self-discovery. I respect her bravery, for stepping into the unknown and doing her best. She brought three kids up pretty much single handedly, which is no mean feat! 

Which women inspire you and why?

Unfortunately I don't have enough female icons, I do feel they don't get enough attention or media coverage, that's why I think what the Hypatia trust is doing is so very important. 

But I'd say the early black women blues singers, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. They weren't only dealing with the discrimination of being black and then also of being female, but they were in a male dominated industry and yet they got up there uninhibited and sang from their soul, that inspires me.

I would also say, it has to be the girls I meet that are going their own way, following their dreams, even if it doesn't conform. I often see guys doing this in the media and they are held on a pedestal, but as soon as a girl or women is going her own way, doing something differently, I feel it can get the opposite kind of attention or none at all. Well I say go girls, no matter what people say, always follow your dreams. 

What are you reading?

Pema Chodron an amazing female Buddhist monk. She comes from New York and lived a totally normal life with kids and a husband etc. Her husband left her for another women and out of her breakdown she discovered Buddhism. It's great as she really understands our everyday problems and tailors the teachings to be able to bring it into the West. I highly recommend her. 

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

As regards to surfing, when I first started surfing there were only two girls that surfed Sennen and they were already very good. I was so nervous it took me a year of deliberating until I finally got out there. I think if I hadn't been so strong willed I would of never have made the leap. This really motivated me to create my first girls surf group, enabling young women to not have to face that fear as I did. 

It's interesting though, as when you do get out there it's often not as bad as you first thought, its just you and the sea :-) 

I have been in many surf shops and they have straight away taken me to the learner board section before even asking me my experience level. It usually takes me about twenty minutes of talking to them before they finally half believe I can surf. I think things are changing though! 

As regards to being a women, I think career options, running my own business and being a Mum have all been very difficult, but this is a broad subject and I think, again, the more we support each other and the less isolated we feel with these problems the better it can be. 

How can the world be made a better place for women?

Real women in the media, inspiring women talked about more to help inspire others. Problems shared not covered up, to make us believe there is something wrong with us, being a mother, a carer, and a housewife all of these things are actually hard and should be given a lot more respect.  

Describe your perfect day?

Laughing, dancing, singing and surfing.

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

It would have to be one of the amazing women that work in some of the special organisations here. Those that work with vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls on a daily basis, they are making such a huge difference to so many and need to be remembered. Perhaps a book published with their names and some stories of those they have helped.

Give us a tip?

Don’t take life to seriously (easier said than done!) and at the same time, try to remember what an incredible miracle it is! and even if its little by little, face your fears, it will reward you I promise. 

Jessica Antonia Cox is a mother of one living in Penzance.  She grew up in the town and has been a semi professional surfer whilst setting up and running her own business and social enterprise Sirens Surf.

Sirens run bespoke surf and yoga retreats, surfing courses, private surf tuition also accessible through social media. They hold community wellness events, which reach out, to vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls often collaborating with community groups and organisations here in Cornwall. 

Khadra Galaal, Gynaecological Oncologist at The Royal Cornwall Hospital.

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What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My biggest achievement is becoming a gynaecological oncology surgeon. 

What motivates you to do what you do?

Making an impact in people's lives motivates me, I want to do the best I can, help my patients and inspire the next generation of women doctors.

What do you owe your mother?

I owe my mother everything. She is the reason I went to medical school, she grew up in a very traditional and religious family where women were expected to marry and education was for boys. She made sure all my sisters were university graduates and successful career women. she would tell us 'don't be like me, I was lucky, your father is a good man, others are not so lucky'. 

Which women inspire you and why?

Hilary Clinton, not for the obvious reasons of being first lady and secretary of state but for having such a courage to get up and try after disastrous failures. I admire those who can get up and carry on despite obstacles and failures.

What are you reading?

These days I am mostly reading medical journals for my research projects. When I am relaxing a read a good crime novel. 

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

Not sure if there were many barriers, I learnt fairly quickly that I had to work harder and for longer than most of my male colleagues. I like to think of it as an advantage, it made me excel in my profession

How can the world be made a better place for women?

By supporting education for young girls in third world countries, there are barriers to education in most non-European countries. education improves lives and lift communities from poverty, it also leads to smaller family sizes and that can only be good :)

Describe your perfect day?

My perfect day is a sunny day at the beach, any of the beaches around here are just sublime.

We've noticed there really arent many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered? 

Professor Lora Fleming is the Director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and Chair of Oceans, Epidemiology and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School

Miss Khadra Galaal joined Royal Cornwall NHS Trust in 2012 as a consultant Gynaecological Oncologist. She qualified in medicine from Dundee University in 1992 and after specialty training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, with subspecialty training in Gynaecological Oncology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead.
She completed accredited fellowship in Gynaecological Oncology and was appointed as a consultant in Gateshead 2007. and since then, in addition to developing techniques in radical cytoreductive surgery for ovarian cancer, she has developed laparoscopic radical surgery and surgery in women with high BMI. She has been an accredited Colposcopist since 2007.
She has numerous peer reviewed publications/reviews/chapters in the field of gynaecological oncology. Current research and clinical interests include the impact of obesity on the surgical management of ovarian and endometrial cancer, alternatives to transfusion in cancer surgery, and evidenced based practice.

With thanks to Sadie Mitchell for nominating Khadra.

Wendy Teasdale nee Holland, Teacher, Wife, Mother, Swimmer.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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    Mrs Teasdale, proudly flying the Cornish flag, as she leads her children on the St Piran's Day Parade.

Mrs Teasdale, proudly flying the Cornish flag, as she leads her children on the St Piran's Day Parade.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A big achievement in my teaching career was receiving the International School Award, which was founded on the children's global awareness and required their understanding of the world - from Cornwall to all parts of the globe, which of course included an appreciation of the diaspora. Aren't we so lucky to have Heartlands on our doorstep? On a day to day basis in school, I aspire to 'reach out' to all the children - and their families too, to secure their positive engagement and involvement in the wider school family. It might only seem like a small thing, but to hear a parent say that their child has now 'awoken' to school life with confidence and self-esteem, or that the parent now truly feels involved, is a small achievement - but on the way to much bigger things. It is also really important to achieve a ‘balance’ – living your life in harmony with your family and friends. For me, that meant giving up my job and concentrating on bringing up my young children. I fully understand that not all mothers can or want to make that choice, but I know that it was right for me and I was blessed with the support I enjoyed from my family whilst my husband was at sea.

What motivates you to do what you do?

There is no greater motivation to teach than the challenge that each child brings you – how can I inspire this child to achieve their potential? Teaching is undoubtedly a vocation, not a '9 to 5 job', and as I now approach my last few years in the profession, I am as passionate as I was 30 years ago - as no child ever gets a 'second childhood'. Hopefully, I can also share my experiences with the younger teachers in the schools and help them be as inspirational as they can be. 

What do you owe your mother?

If it wasn’t for my mother, Joyce, I would not be a teacher today! Every time I doubted myself at St Luke’s or in my early days as a junior teacher, she would always encourage me to ‘stick at it’ as she could see I had the potential – even when I couldn’t! My mother sadly passed away last year but I admired her so much; she lost her mother when she was only 3 years old, but remained loyal and cared for her step-mother for decades. I can only dream of matching that commitment, perhaps that's what has driven me to care so much for the children in my care. 

Which women inspire you and why?

Mother Theresa and Diana, Princess of Wales. They were very different in status, monetary wealth and material possessions, but they both had ‘the common touch’ – that ability to engage with any other person, no matter what their background or circumstances, in a way that made them feel comfortable, supported, valued and loved. 

What are you reading?

Victoria Hislop's "The Island" really resonates with me - the heroine wants to find out more about her mother and her travels take her to the island of Spinalonga, the old leper colony off Crete, which I hope to visit in October. I think we are so busy today, with our focus on social media 'feeds', that we can forget to make time - for ourselves, to relax and re-charge our batteries - and our family.  

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

Very few at work, as female teachers make up the majority of the profession here in Cornwall. Perhaps that’s why I was easily able to refresh my training and knowledge as a teacher and return to the profession after 7 years ‘out’ of the classroom bringing up my two boys. I wish more jobs had such well-designed and signposted routes back to work for mothers.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

We should not be bombarded with what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like, or how great her career is, or how ‘wonderful’ her house or family are! We are all unique, some of us are sisters and mothers as well, but we are all daughters and we are all individuals. We should have the self-confidence and esteem to be happy in our bodies, our families, our jobs, our homes.

Describe your perfect day?

That’s easy! A morning swim at high tide at Point, lying in the calm waters, letting the sun shine on to my face, whilst I reflect on all the blessings we enjoy living in Cornwall and take a moment to remember those who are not with us now. Then, a walk around the Cathedral, such a haven of peace and tranquility – there is always something new to see. I love the way the Cathedral wraps itself around the older St Mary’s Church – that’s how I would like to be thought of as a mother. A short car journey would take me to the King Harry Ferry – is there a more stunning crossing, anywhere? – and on to the Roseland Peninsular. Another (!) swim at St Mawes (you can tell I am a Pisces!) followed by a drink with my husband and two boys looking over Carrick Roads. Returning home, my boys would have the braai ready (they’ve both been to South Africa and brought that BBQ-type tradition back to Cornwall) and we would sit and relax in the garden, whilst enjoying another great Cornish sunset.

We've noticed there really aren't many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Our Cornish heritage is mining, fishing and agriculture. I would love to see the female role in that legacy reflected with statues of Bal Maidens, Fisherwomen and Farmers’ wives – they are captured in paintings and old photographs, but not statues. Yes, our parents’ generation can remember them as living people, but those personal memories are literally dying now. We should celebrate the role of women in the history of the Duchy before the memories fade like the photographs and become forgotten.

Give us a tip?

From my Mother (and John Wesley!) I try to: 'Do All The Good You Can, To All The People You Can' but my tips to young people are - Seize The Moment and Be The Best You Can! 

Wendy Teasdale, nee Holland, was born in her parents' house in Truro in March 1962. Her father remembers there being so much snow on the ground that the midwife struggled to get to Bodmin Road and he was needed to help deliver the baby! Wendy went to her local primary and secondary schools and studied her "A"-levels at the Grammar School before going to St Luke's Teacher Training College in Exeter. Her initial teaching jobs were in Suffolk but she was always keen to return to the Duchy and was thrilled to be offered a job to teach in Torpoint. Whilst living in Plymouth, Wendy met and married her Naval Officer husband, Mark, just before he sailed for the first Gulf War, complete with his new 'Cornish Passport'! With Mark away so much, Wendy took a seven year career break to look after her two sons, Ben and Sam, before they started full time learning and she felt able to return to teaching. An 18 year stint then followed at Archbishop Benson School in Truro - amazingly located on Bodmin Road, barely 100yards from where she was born: how the wheel turns! This 'return to her roots' must have energised Wendy as she drove the Archbishop Benson to International School Status, receiving the prestigious award from George Alagiah in London. Her “Arts Week” became the highlight of the summer terms, with guest visitors such as local artist Lamorna Penrose and the BGT dance group FLAVA. Wendy was asked by Cornwall County LEA to share her teaching skills, acting as the Key Stage 1 Moderator for the County, ensuring that common teaching standards and marking ‘norms’ were delivered across the Cornwall. Wendy really was the "Go To" teacher for help and professional advice. Wendy is hugely passionate about inclusion in the widest sense and developed her Community Cohesion programme in 2011, keeping at alive and 'up to date' with the latest projects such as the "Who Am I’ initiative. For many years, Wendy has been a key-note speaker to the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) students in their Induction Week, and sits on the SCITT Graduation Board. Wendy recently joined the staff at Perran-Ar-Worthal CP school, to be close to where she lives in Carnon Downs.

Cal Major, Ocean Plastics Campaigner, Paddleboarder and Vet

Cal Major

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Stand up paddleboarding 300 miles around the entire Cornish coast last year was my biggest achievement to date. Just over 5 years ago, I had my hip operated on - I went from being a karate black belt, captain of my football team and fit as a fiddle to being told I wouldn't run again. I lost a lot of confidence in my body's physical ability, and talked myself down from doing things, believing I was physically incapable. Discovering I could stand up paddle board was a huge confidence boost, and deciding to take on the challenge around Cornwall was a really big step for me. It ended up being as much of a mental challenge as it was physical; I never doubted I would complete it, but some days am still so amazed I did.

What motivates you to do what you do?

The driving force behind my expeditions is the damage that single use plastic is doing to the oceans. Single use plastic is the stuff that is used for a matter of minutes, often packaging, then thrown away. Relatively little of it is recycled, and that which isn't has the potential to make its way into the oceans, where it pollutes the water, kills wildlife and reduces the ocean's ability to sustain life on Earth. I desperately wanted to find a way to show people the harm it was causing, but more to demonstrate simple things we can all do to limit it, such as choosing a refillable water bottle over single use plastic bottles. I wanted to deliver a positive message, so turned to adventure as my vehicle.

What do you owe your mother?

My mum teaches me compassion and unconditional love. She always has so much love to give and I think this has really affected the way in which I treat other people too. Sometimes, when I find myself in emotional trouble, I think of the love and understanding she would show me, and try and direct some of that compassion inwards. Especially if I'm giving myself a hard time, I try and think of what my mum would say to me in that situation, and how she would see the best in me, not the bad bits that I'm focussing on.

Which women inspire you and why?

There are two types of women that inspire me. The first are those who have a passion, work hard and stand strong for what the are fighting for. Sylvia Earle is a huge inspiration - she has advanced ocean conservancy and inclusion of women in the field of marine research, is intelligent, humble and brilliant.

The second is authentic adventurers and sportswomen. I'm inspired by women who are less interested in how their bodies look, and more interested in how they function. Those who acknowledge their potential, train hard to reach their goals, and are calm and humble along the way. I'm inspired by women who understand that we are all a team, and aren't out to spite anybody else, but to encourage and support their team mates. I love Marie Buchanan who is an amazingly strong and determined UK professional SUP racer, and a really lovely, encouraging and genuine woman! I'm also inspired by Izzi Gomez who is a kick ass pro SUP surfer at the age of 17.

I'm a big fan of Anna McNuff who is a female adventurer who isn't afraid to show us the real bits of taking on big challenges!

What are you reading?

I'm currently reading two books - the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which are lovely books, easy to read and fun, based around a pretty cool female protagonist, and The Tide Book which was a gift to me and is a beautifully written description of how the tides in the UK work - they are deceptively complicated!

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

I am a veterinary surgeon by day, and this has had some huge gender barriers to overcome, particularly when I was a farm vet when I first graduated. The farmers would take one look at this small, young, female vet and in that moment decide I wasn't capable of doing a good job. From the moment I walked onto a new farm I needed to prove my worth to be treated with any respect. However, as soon as I had performed adequately just the once - a successful caesarean on their prized heifer, a seriously physically challenging twisted uterus correction, or saving their youngstock from a bout of pneumonia, they would welcome me back, send me away with fresh eggs, and bring me warm water to wash up in afterwards (I was told by my male colleagues that the boys only ever got cold water!)

How can the world be made a better place for women?

By women believing in themselves and their abilities. There is so much in society telling women that they have to look or behave a certain way. I wish more women would listen to their intuition and believe in their innate ability in whatever it is that drives them. I have recently been studying mindfulness, which has given me a lot of confidence in listening to my inner teacher and trusting that I know what is best for me. I also think the world would be a much better place for women if we had a bit more love for our fellow females, and less competition that can be so unnecessary and damaging.

Describe your perfect day?

My perfect day would be shared with loved ones for a start - it's great to challenge yourself alone but humans are made for interaction! It would be surfing or stand up paddle boarding in the sunshine, then camping on a remote beach, with a campfire and a bottle of wine!

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

Ooh that's a tricky one! There are so many women in Cornwall at the moment fighting plastic pollution - Heather Koldewey in Marazion, Claire Wallerstein of Rame Peninsula beach care, and Jill Stott of Clean Cornwall. These ladies have all made a huge impact on the health of our oceans, and continue to do so with humility and cool determination.

Give us a tip?

Don't underestimate yourself. You have all the strength and answers you need. They're not always immediately obvious, but if you give yourself space and time, you will figure out what is truly you, and can give up on that which isn't. Go forth and be the most authentic, beautifully vulnerable, unexpectedly strong person you know you are.

Cal Major is a stand up paddle boarder, surfer, ocean lover and vet. Increasingly upset by the amount of plastic waste she was finding in the ocean, she wanted to connect people to the harm that it was causing, but moreover to empower people to make positive changes to help prevent it. So she turned to adventure and last year stand up paddle boarded the entire Cornish coast in a bid to demonstrate the problems surrounding single use plastic water bottles; a 300 mile epic ocean voyage in overhead swell, gale force headwind, fog, rain and treacherous tides. This year she is circumnavigating the Isle of Skye’s 400 miles of wild and unforgiving coastline on stand up paddleboard to show how we can protect our environment from the threat of single use plastic.

www.paddleagainstplastic.com
www.plasticfree.org.uk

https://www.itsafishthing.com/plastic-in-the-ocean/

Rebecca Parry, Head Of Projects At The Wave Project.

Becky Parry Head Of Projects At The Wave Project

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Personally - Surviving a condition in pregnancy called Hyperemesis Gravidium (Severe sickness and vomiting) which left me malnourished, dehydrated and emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted for nine months, then having a long and not the easiest labour and then still having the strength to deliver our baby girl safely and breastfeed her for 18 months, It was a long recovery for me afterwards!  Aside from that, finding a job I truly love, enjoy and feel rewarded in.

What motivates you to do what you do?

Knowing and seeing what we do really makes a difference, the children I've worked with in and out of water keep me inspired! They are amazing individuals and go through so much in their lives and show us all how they overcome their own challenges. It keeps your head and your feet firmly planted on the ground and it humbles me as we have such privileged lives compared to some of the young people we work with.

What do you owe your mother? 

The strength and passion to help people, to leave my problems aside to help others. To be loving, warm and non judgemental. To work, love and play hard and most of all how to be a good mum. Oh and my OCD, cleaning and laundry habit.

Which women inspire you and why?

All women inspire me, each of us have our own stories and challenges so we should celebrate and inspire each other.  Bethany Hamilton is a particularly inspiring woman in surfing, at the age of 13 she was attacked by a shark whilst surfing at her local beach in Hawaii. One month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water and within 2 years had won her first National title. She continues to surf professional and and now has a child, which is pretty inspiring.

What are you reading?

I don't get much time to read at the moment, having a toddler to chase after keeps me pretty busy, but when I can grab five minutes I love to pick up Breathe magazine which has some lovely articles and features and gives me a bit of escapism. When we go away on holiday, I always make sure to pack plenty of books, as this is when I get most of my reading done. I like to read a mix of genres and am always looking for recommendations!

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

The surfing industry has been a predominantly a male dominated one so I have seen lots of gender barriers over the years. Things are changing and there is starting to be a little more equality in the sport, but there is still a little way to go!  It’s great that The Wave Project is a surfing charity that currently employs more women than men!     

How can the world be made a better place for women?

Celebrate each other and try not judge or criticise, there is so much pressure put on us to have the perfect image and lives and I think social media doesn’t always help this.

Describe your perfect day?

We don't get many family days together, just because of the nature of my husbands business, but when we do I like to pack up for a day on the beach or boat, pack a picnic, and head down for a lovely day playing on the beach and in the sea together.  I like to stay as long as possible, enjoying the evening light and sometimes a BBQ if we’ve been organised enough.

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

I would like to see Daphne Du Marier, Rowena Cade or Barbara Hepworth rememberedwith a statue. I don’t feel they are celebrated or remembered fas much as they could be for their contributions to the county.

Give us a tip?

Not many people know how to escape a rip current and I think living in Cornwall surrounded by the sea, its an essential tip to know!

Rip currents can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea's surface.

If you do find yourself caught in a rip:

- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.

- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.

- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.

Rebecca Parry has lived in Cornwall since the age of 4, and has always been engaged with surfing and the sea in one way or another, in and out of the water.  Her involvement with the Wave Project started during the initial pilot project in 2010, Rebecca was then employed by the organisation in 2013.

Rebecca originally qualified as a primary teacher and improving young people’s emotional and mental health is something she feels vey passionately about. Combining this with her respect and passion for the sea and surfing has allowed Rebecca to pursue a career within a charity which she feels very honoured to be part of.  Seeing first hand how surfing can benefit and improve young people’s emotional and mental health and wellbeing is very rewarding. This passion for the beach and sea and her qualification in teaching lead her to develop The Wave Project’s Beach School intervention which is now being delivered to schools around Cornwall on a regular basis.

Rebecca married her beach lifeguard-training husband Stuart in 2012 and have since had their daughter, Pip, in 2014. Rebecca herself has suffered with postnatal depression and post traumatic stress after suffering with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during her pregnancy. Rebecca has found getting back in the sea & surfing, after pregnancy very beneficial to her overall mental health & wellbeing recovery. Rebecca enjoys days on the beach, swimming with her little girl, surfing, reading and has an interest in holistic/natural health.

 

The Wave Project started in 2010 as a voluntary group funded by the National Health Service in Cornwall. The initial aim was to use volunteers to provide one-to-one surfing lessons for young people with mental health issues as a way of getting them outside, doing physical exercise and feeling more confident about themselves.The first project achieved outstanding results.

The results of the pilot showed that going surfing once a week helped clients feel more confident, improved their outlook and gave them a sense of fun. The participants were young people who other services had been unable to reach.  The evaluation showed that the surfing course had led them to feel more accepted, positive and comfortable with their lives. Encouraged by the results, The Wave Project was established as a not-for-profit company. Further funding was obtained, initially from BBC Children In Need and later from the Big Lottery Fund and other funders, and the project began to grow.  Since then, The Wave Project has developed an award-winning intervention that uses the local surfers to help young people reduce anxiety and improve their emotional health. New projects have been set up all over the UK, including in Wales and Scotland.  All of these projects use the same methods employed on the original pilot scheme in Cornwall – getting local surfers to work with clients and teach them to surf. The sessions are delivered by a mix of paid staff and volunteer surf-mentors who work in partnership with established surf schools. Some of our surf mentors started out as clients themselves.  Most importantly, our sessions are free of any pressure to succeed – clients work at their own pace and achieve their own goals. They can work 1:1 with their mentor, or get more involved with the group. Our ethos is to be totally client-led. The role of the surf mentor is to encourage and enable, not to push clients towards an arbitrary goal. We have found that this approach reduces anxiety and allows clients to feel empowered, enabling them to overcome challenges and develop a sense of pride in their achievements.

We take referrals from professionals working with vulnerable children and young people, and also run private lessons for schools, charities and companies. Regular referrers include the NHS, social services, mental health services, GPs, family support services, counsellors and children’s charities.

https://www.waveproject.co.uk

Liz Fenwick, Writer, Wife, Mother Of Three.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Aside from the family ones…writing books that touch readers hearts.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I have a huge need to tell stories especially about women – past and present. How do women survive when confronted by things they never imagined? I hope that by telling these stories in an entertaining and readable way I can reach out and let people know they are not alone.

What do you owe your mother?

My stubbornness, my belief that if I worked hard enough I could do what I wanted to and most importantly that love isn’t about the words but how you demonstrate it.

Which women inspire you and why?

So many it’s hard to chose. But my current hero is Isobel Abulhoul who founded the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. She saw the need to increase literacy in the Middle East and to build bridges between cultures. She felt books were the best way and I agree.

What are you reading?

Cornwall in the Great Civil War by Mary Coate.

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

When I was younger it was being assessed on my appearance and not my brain. In my first job after university a wise woman said to me that my looks would open any door but only my brain would keep it open. I hope that my daughter will not have to use her looks in that way and will be judged on merit alone.

How can the world be made a better place for women?

Respect. I think the world has lost the notion of respect in its rush to achieve many things. Now that some battles have been fought and nearly won can we have a little quiet respect back?

Describe your perfect day?

Coffee in my garden before everyone is awake, a few hours writing then into the boat to enjoy the Helford with a good book while my husband fishes, cooking the catch and enjoying my garden again….

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

That’s a tough question as I think the women of Cornwall have been focused on surviving in a challenging environment rather than changing the rest ofthe world. Cornwall, especially in the past, was a harsh place to live so I would love to see a statue celebrating all Cornish women from the fishwives to the Bal Maidens to those who served in both wars to the current day…

Give us a tip?

As I’m a writer I’ll give you my best writing tip. Listen to your work whether you have a trusted friend read it to you or have the computer do it with text to voice software. It gives you distance from the words and helps you to experience it as a reader and not as someone who knows everything that is and isn’t on the page.

Liz Fenwick

http://lizfenwick.com 

Award winning author of The Returning Tide, The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger and Under A Cornish Sky. After ten international moves, She's a bit of a global nomad. It’s no wonder her heart remains in Cornwall. Her books are available in Dutch, Germany, Portuguese, French, Estonia, Norwegian Danish, Turkish, Swedish, Latvian, Serbian and Czech.