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40 of the most brave, brilliant and intelligent women in Cambridgeshire

40 of the most brave, brilliant and intelligent women in Cambridgeshire

It's important to celebrate the women in our lives - and the amazing things they do - every day.

But today is International Women's Day (IWD), which puts extra focus on recognising the work and achievements of women across the world.

The day has been marked for more than a century, as the first IWD was in 1911.

There are so many inspirational and amazing women from across Cambridgeshire - so we've put together a list to celebrate some of them.

Have we missed anyone off the list? Let us know some of the inspirational women in your life, in the comments section below.

Nicole Dobbin

Nicole Dobbin with her husband Simon (Image: Warren Gunn)

Nicole Dobbin has shown unwavering strength since her husband, Simon Dobbin, was attacked by football fans which left him with permanent brain damage.

Almost three years since Simon was paralysed from the neck down, Nicole has remained by his side and cared for him every day.

Also mum to their daughter Emily Dobbin, Nicole gave up her job to support Simon full time and last year she won 'carer of the year' at the Cambridge New Community Awards.

Jenny Bailey

(Image: David Johnson)

Jenny made history when she became the country's first transgender mayor in 2007.

The Liberal Democrat politician, who was born a boy, underwent gender reassignment in her late 20s and early 30s.

She first became a city council member in East Chesterton in 2002 and represented the area until 2008.

Interested in environmental issues, she has worked to promote cycling, waste management and recycling.

Gerri Bird

(Image: Keith Heppell)

Gerri Bird had a difficult start in life but, against all the odds, has accomplished a huge amount and become a huge success.

She spent many of her early years in hospital with polio which left her in a wheelchair.

After working at Addenbrooke's for years, she went on to join a disability charity before becoming a councillor for East Chesterton in 2011, then Mayor in 2014.

Living life to the full, Gerri has jumped out of an aeroplane, swum competitively and won trophies for banger-racing - so it's fair to say she's never let anything hold her back.

Cllr Gerri Bird, previously deputy mayor, has been chosen to replace Cllr Nigel Gawthrope who died suddenly at the age of 61 while on holiday at the start of the year.

Mary Beard

(Image: PA)

Dame Mary Beard is a professor of classics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge.

As well as writing multiple books and being a leader in her field, the classics professor has spoken out about a number of important issues including the #MeToo movement.

Last year she was appointed a dame (DBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for her services to the study of classical civilisations.

Julie Deane

Founder of the Cambridge Satchel Company, Julie Deane has shown it's possible to make a lot out of a little.

This business woman's success story began at her kitchen table with just £600 and an unstoppable drive to make enough money to send her two children to a better school in a matter of months.

In the space of five years the business was worth £50 million.

It hasn't always been easy but now, 10 years on from when it first began, the Cambridge Satchel Company is as popular as ever and Julie's bag business is still booming.

Victoria Bateman

Not afraid to attract attention in the name of making an important point, Dr Victoria Bateman has hit the headlines on numerous occasions for her unique protests.

The economics fellow at Gonville & Caius College has protested against leaving the European Union by stripping off and writing Brexit messages across her body.

The naked academic also challenged MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson to a Brexit debate in the buff.

She previously protested against inequality in economics by wearing nothing but bank notes.

Imogen Grant

Cambridge born and bred, Imogen Grant has already represented her city for the Boat Race twice.

The medical student at Trinity College has shown strength, determination and commitment, making a name for herself as a hugely successful rower.

Heidi White

(Image: David Johnson)

Founder of foodPark, Heidi White, has shown that it's more than possible be a successful entrepreneur while juggling motherhood.

Not only that, but Heidi has shown that the tastiest of food can come from the back of a van.

Along with two other women, Heidi organised food festival, Eat Cambridge, in 2013 - just as street food was in its early days of infancy.

A year later foodPark was born, and it has been feeding office workers three days a week ever since.

Offering something a bit more exciting than sandwiches, foodPark is Cambridge's first (and only) collective of street food traders.

Rosalind Franklin

(Image: Surrey Mirror)

A chemist who studied at King's College, Rosalind Franklin is recognised for her contributions to understanding the molecular structures of DNA.

While her father tried to deter her from going into science, because it was difficult for women to have a career in the field, Franklin became one of the most renowned scientists in history.

She left Cambridge in 1953 when she went on to lead work on the molecular structures of viruses at the Birkbeck lab. She died from cancer in 1958.

Su Metcalfe

(Image: David Johnson)

Dr Su Metcalfe made a major breakthrough to help cure Multiple Sclerosis.

The auto-immune condition affects 2.3 million people around the world.

It attacks cells in the brain and the spinal cord, causing a number of physical and mental side effects including blindness and muscle weakess.

At the moment there is no cure but Dr Metcalfe and her team are working to change that.

Priyamvada Gopal

(Image: Cambridge News/Cambridgeshire Live)

An academic at Cambrdidge University, Priyamvada Gopal has stood up to racism within the institution.

Dr Gopal, who teaches at the university's Faculty of English, announced last year she would refuse to supervise King's College students, due to "consistently racist profiling & aggression" by porters.

Following her decision, the college announced it would do more to improve its reporting and complaints procedures and that staff underwent unconscious bias training.

Ruth Fox

As well as being a professional football player, Ruth Fox has become an ambassador for mental health.

The St Ives Town FC ladies player has spoken out about her battle with depression in her new book The Unseen Battle: One young footballer's struggle off the pitch.

In the book, Ruth details her experience with her mental health struggle, and the reaction to her work has been extremely positive.

Since the publication of her book, she has been invited to give a talk at a mental health awareness evening on March 13.

She hopes to continue to raise awareness of mental health, which is often still seen as a taboo, particularly in the sporting world.

Laura Robson Brown and Katherine Mann

Authors of the Fitz and Will books, Laura Robson Brown and Katherine Mann have contributed hugely to the city's literary scene.

The books tell the story of two adorable cats and their adventures through the historical streets of Cambridge.

The first of the four books, The May Ball Adventure,  was launched in 2014 and the series has since proved to be hugely popular.

Fitz and Will is now the fastest-selling picture book series in Cambridge

Kirsty Hulley

(Image: Cambridgeshire Police)

Last year PC Kirsty Hulley received a Royal Humane Society Resuscitation award, which recognises the achievements of individuals who have saved or attempted to save the life of someone through resuscitation.

Kirsty was on duty at a football game when a man collapsed.

Along with a colleague, Kirsty successfully resuscitated the man.

Dame Mary Archer

(Image: Science Museum Group)

Dame Mary Archer was the chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for ten years.

An academic, she has taught science at Cambridge University and is now chairman of the Science Museum Group.

She even has a road named after her en route to the hospital - Dame Mary Archer Way.

Dr Elizabeth Moore

Dr Elizabeth Moore at the University of Cambridge is researching a new way to detect ovarian cancer in the blood.

This could work revolutionise the way the disease is diagnosed.

She and her team are researching circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), a way of detecting cancer that will be more targeted and accurate than any current test for ovarian cancer that currently exists.

Baroness Trumpington, Jean Barker

(Image: PA)

Baroness Trumpington was known as an outspoken and colourful character in the House of Lords.

Born in 1922, she helped crack Nazi codes at Bletchley Park then when on to have a long and successful career in politics.

She shot to fame when she was caught flipping the V sign to a fellow peer.

Baroness Trumpington announced her retirement in 2017 at the the age of 94 and died last year, aged 96.

Dame Athene Donald

Physicist, Dame Athene Donald, is a professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge who has published more than 250 papers.

Athene took up the role of Master of Churchill College in 2014.

She was appointed DBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for services to physics.

Dame Evelyn Glennie

(Image: Burton Mail)

Dame Evelyn Glennie has changed the face of music across the world.

The percussionist, who has been profoundly deaf since she was 12-years-old, has shown that anything is possible.

Now an internationally successful musician, Evelyn has lived in Cambridgeshire for around 20 years.

Sophie Hannah

(Image: Daily Mirror)

Psychological crime fiction writer, Sophie Hannah, is an international best selling author.

Her work has been published in 49 languages and, with the blessing of Agatha Christie's family and estate, she published a new Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders.

The book was a huge success and became a top five bestseller in more than 15 countries.

The Cambridge-based author wrote self-help book How to Hold a Grudge, as well as poetry.

She is an honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College.

Bisoye Babalola

(Image: Cambridge News)

Now living in Peterborough, Bisoye Babalola, received a BEM for services to the creative industries.

She is founder and chief executive officer of nights global, and has led a visual arts festival as well as hosting a school outreach programme in creative and digital skills.

A self-funded film festival and platform for independent visual artists, Nights Global gives new film makers the opportunity to screen their work.

Miss Babalola has devoted her spare time to the project since 2015, building up a team of six volunteers and screening the work of 76 directors.

She moved from London to Peterborough more than a year ago and is hoping to launch more projects across Cambridgeshire.

Anne Furbank

(Image: Cambridge News)

Based in Buckden, Anne Furbank was presented with with a BEM for services to the fashion industry and charitable fundraising last year.

She founded a small ladies dress shop in Buckden, Anne Furbank Fashions, in 1981 which has since grown to employ more than 40 people and won the Draper Independent Retailer of the Year Award in 2005.

As a successful local business woman, Mrs Furbank has used her talents to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Through her fashion business, she has raised £92,000 for BBC Children in Need since 1992, as well as £20,000 for various other local charities by holding fashion shows.

Caroline Hyde


Caroline Hyde has just been announced as the new CEO of Allia.

She joined the organisation in 2013 to manage the launch and operation of the first Future Business Centre, on King’s Hedges Road in Cambridge.

She oversees Allia’s work around developing flexible workspace and business support for ventures that focus on social or environmental impact, through the network of four Future Business Centres which are active in Cambridge, London and Peterborough.

Lucy Lake

(Image: Twitter: Lucy Lake)

CEO of CAMFED International, Lucy Lake has been awarded an OBE for services to Young People in Africa.

Lucy leads the non-profit organisation which aims to eradicate poverty in Africa by educating and empowering girls and women.

Under Lucy’s leadership, the organisation Camfed was recognised by the OECD for best practice in taking development innovation by scale.

In 2017, the charity passed the halfway mark in its pledge to put one million teenage girls in Africa through school by 2020.

 

Jane Paterson-Todd

Self-confeseed 'triathlon junkie', when she isn't running, swimming or cycling, Jane Paterson-Todd is leading Cambridge Ahead.

The organisation represents and brings together the city's academic and business communities.

Her leadership has help the organisation focus on the best way to address issues that affect the area, such as housing, transport and developing skills.

Judith Weir

(Image: Benjamin Ealovega)

Cambridge-born and trained as an oboe player, Judith Weir is an award winning composer.

She has performed with the national Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and was resident composer with the City of Birmingham in the 1990s.

She worn in the 'choral' category in the prestigious British Composer Awards 2018 with her work In the Land of Uz, a dramatication of the biblical Book of Job.

She has composed several widely performed operas, as well as written orchestral music for the like of the BBC Symphony, among others.

Heidi Allen

(Image: PA)

One of the recent defectors who quit their party to join the Independent Group, the MP for South Cambridgeshire is not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believes in.

The ex-Tory MP has also uses her platform to raise awareness of important issues, as she previously gave an emotional speech in Parliament about her abortion.

Lola Olufemi, Odelia Younge, Waithera Sebatindira, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

(Image: Verve Poetry Press)

Writers of a FLY Girl's Guide to University, these four women set out to represent the voices of women and non-binary people of colour at Cambridge University and other institutions.

The book draws upon their personal experiences at the university, in a collection of memories, poems and essays.

Published at the beginning of the year, the women hope the book will spark conversation and create positive change.

Michaela Esbach and Anne Bailey

(Image: David Johnson)

Co-founders, of Form the Future, Michaela Esbach and Anne Bailey helping young people to fulfill their potential.

Form the Future aims to inspire youngsters to dream big and connect them with exciting career possibilities.

Successful initiatives include Cambridge Launchpad, which aims to help spark an interest in STEM careers for young people, and sees schools participating in a specially designed programme backed by the likes of Marshall Group, Arm and TTP.

Jacqui Appleton

Last year, Cambridge-based solicitor, Jacqui Appleton, gave a brutally honest speech about why Cambridge Magistrates' Court should remain open.

In the passionate speech, the solicitor said the criminal justice is "on its knees" and that the delays in local justice are "scandalous".

A partner and solicitor at Shelley & Co in Cambridge, Appleton said defendants and victims are suffering "daily injustices as a result."

Zoe Cadwell

Forensic scientist at Anglia Ruskin University, Zoe Cadwell, has been awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to help her carry out research alongside experts in Canada and Australia.

A lecturer in Forensic and Investigative Sciences at Anglia Rusking, Zoe will work alongside other researchers on forensic evidence recovery and fingerprint enhancement, particularly focusing on how they use forensic evidence in challenging environments.

Before becoming an academic, Zoe spent 13 years as a Crime Scene Investigator working on both cold cases and high profile investigations.

Rebecca Willers

Founder and chair of the Shepreth Wildlife Park, Rebecca Willers is passionate about conservation

She oversees work of the charity as well as the SWCC Hedgehog Hospital programme, which uses a scientific approach to rehabilitate and release hedgehogs back into the wild.

The wildlife park director spoke out in 2017 about how she is 'turning into stone' after contracting a deadly illness from an insect bite.

Rebecca was diagnosed with Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis - an incurable condition that kills one in 10 people within five years.

She isn't letting anything stop her though, as she's running the Brighton Marathon in April to raise money charity.

Anne-Marie Hamilton

From St Neots, Anne-Marie Hamilton is the chair and founder of the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Rural Support Group.

She was awarded an MBE for services to the farming community and to charity.

The organisation works to support those in the rural community facing a broad range of issue, from anything from debt to loneliness..

Chief superintendent Vicky Skeels

 

Cambridgeshire Constabulary's Vicky Skeels was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal. in 2018

She was the area commander based at Parkside police station for four years covering Cambridge and the surrounding areas.

Before she retired in October last year, Vicky was Head of Operations, responsible for local policing services and safer neighbourhood teams across the county. As an experienced firearms and public order commander.

Dr Hélène de Maleprade

(Image: Stem for Britain)


Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, Dr Hélène de Maleprade will present her physics research in Parliament to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges on March 13.

It is part of annual competition, STEM for BRITAIN.

Hélène’s poster on research about the swimming of green micro-algae towards light will be judged against dozens of other scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind.

Hélène was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.

Read the full article here 

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