On 6th March our Chief Exec, Ann, took part in a panel discussion at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall for an International Women’s Day event.

Local Enterprise Manager at NatWest Business – Heidi Franklin chaired the discussion, on the theme of ‘Inspiring  Inclusion.’

The tone of the event was about opening doors for other women that the speakers themselves felt fortunate enough to have been able to walk through, or had had to knock down and wanted to make sure they were wedged open enough so that others could follow…

Each of the inspirational women spoke about overcoming obstacles, about under-representation and ignoring the nay-sayers – at times with eyes “filled with tears, or a stab of rage”, but without judgement from the room or feeling a need to supress their emotion. “We’re women. Emotion is normal, shows our passion for what we do and our periodic irritations at how hard we’ve had to fight to get it,” states Liz Nice, EADT in her article about the event (link below).

The speakers shared stories which included overcoming challenges in childhood to work with children with behavioural issues; rising to success after a devastating injury during a crucial dance career audition; overcoming imposter syndrome from a childhood conditioning of being told you will amount to nothing; navigating motherhood and the challenges of juggling parenthood with forging your own path.

Debbie Lewis – Regional EcoSystem Manager at NatWest Business describes the panellists present on the day:

Lungile Bushell – founder of Journey of Healing, wife and mother of two, who’s daughter Nandi Bushell is a young drumming phenomenon who performed at the Queens Jubilee.
Melissa Dark MBE – National Casualty Bureau CoOrdinator, City of London Police. Melissa was awarded an MBE for her role in creating the Pandemic Multi Agency Response Team.
Jeanette Dennis – Head of the Agriculture & Estates Team at Ashtons Legal LLP -having lived and worked on the family farm in Norfolk, Jeanette is perfectly placed to handle farm land deals, renewable energy and diversification cases.
Ann Osborn HON DUniv – CEO at The Rural Coffee Caravan making a difference to rural communities throughout Suffolk creating social spaces in rural areas to combat social isolation and loneliness.
Gina Long MBE – a philanthropist, entrepreneur, freelance journalist, mentor and renowned charity campaigner and ambassador.

“What an amazing day!!” Ann reflects, “I was so busy being in awe and combatting nerves, that I forgot to take pictures. But it was an amazing event. It was such a privilege to be included. The atmosphere was all about women celebrating and lifting each other. It was empowering.”

Read the full article about the event in the EADT from editor Liz Nice: What would work be like if women were in charge? 

(Images below: Charlotte Bond, EADT)