Recently the BBC released it’s list of 100 inspirational women. From boxer Nicola Adams, to make up artist Bobbi Brown, it’s a list of campaigners, entrepreneurs, athletes and scientists from across the world.
JD Williams decided to release their own list, from much closer to home and, as earlier this year, I wrote about women who have inspired me, they asked me if I’d add any women to my list. There are so many that I take inspiration from every day that it was hard to keep it to a small list, rather than a big tome of people.
First up, one close to home. My Nana. She’s not with us now, she died a few years ago, at the ripe age of 92. Born in 1919, she was the illegitimate daughter of my great-grandmother and (allegedly) a soldier who was killed right at the end of WWI.
Though her mother married and she was adopted by my great grandad, the best friend of her biological father. Though she didn’t find out about it until much later, I have no doubt the stigma still affected attitudes towards her, but Winnifred Getrude Makin was a tough cookie. She worked as a volunteer during WWII, and brought up four children, often doing whatever she could to make ends meet – from taking in ironing to picking peas, while my grandad worked the mines in Yorkshire, and would often go without herself to keep her family hale and hearty.
But it was after his death that she really blossomed. She learned to drive and continued to do so into her eighties. She travelled the world, on her own, from Europe to America, including Las Vegas. As I got older, it became a ritual that I’d call her every couple of weeks, chat to her, and catch up on the family gossip. I think, finally when she did pass away, she was simply ready to go, much as we all thought she’d outlive us.
In truth, she was a genuinely incredible lady, and I miss her terribly.
She’s probably going to kill me (metaphorically, of course) for putting her on here, but Ilona Burton also needs to have a mention. A lady who has experienced her own issues with mental health and eating disorders, she now writes about both her experiences and those of others, and campaigns to de-stigmatise mental health problems.
I’m lucky enough, through the power of Twitter and a mutual friend, to be able to call on her occasionally for help, for comment (and vice versa) and cocktails. Which reminds me, we need a date please lady.
She writes honestly and truthfully and pulls no punches – and gives those with mental health issues, particularly eating disorders, a voice.
Finally, two lady chefs. I know more than a few who are massive inspirations, but these two are braver than I could ever be. Jackie Kearney and Debbie Halls-Evans have both taken their fantastic cooking skills and put them on the telly.
Hours of work, prep, and filming. Yeah, this takes lady-balls.
Jackie went on Masterchef and finished fourth – and now has a cookbook, a series of pop up events to her name, and produces her own range of sauces and pastes (seriously, the Pad Thai sauce is divine, and this has also reminded me to go shopping).
Debbie went onto The Taste, and wowed judges including Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain, going on to win the coveted title (and trophy) since then, she has been involved in charity events and pop-ups all over the place, from Los Angeles to Bolton. And she still manages to fit in family life. Super woman (who also has a fab husband).
They’re both down to earth ladies, who have done amazing things, and continue to do the things they love, whether it’s at home for family and friends, or for paying customers. I’m blessed to consider them friends, even if I don’t see them often enough – truthfully, I’d be the size of a house given the amazing food they cook.
So we’ll just stick to gin, eh ladies?
So there you go. Four more awesome ladies, I’m lucky to know, or have known. Who are the amazing women in your life?
With thanks to the ladies (some of whom don’t actually know I’ve done this yet, so, er sorry) and to JD Williams for asking!