By Anj Handa

You can’t keep a good girl down!

What a rollercoaster 2018 was! I started off the year with Aussie flu and lost a patch of hair the size of my palm. Not the best start, especially for a speaker who’s often in the public eyes. I needed respite and decided to launch the IWC Residentials in The Dales. It was one of my better ideas since I’ve since held four and there are two more filling up next year.

Things took an upward turn, with a feature in i-news on International Women’s Day (IWD) and being invited to keynote at the Chartered Management Institute’s IWD event in Leeds. Then… a car accident and whiplash. Already recovering from a broken ankle, I was in a lot of pain.

Thankfully, my friend and Associate Minoti Parikh stepped in to help deliver a series of Speak Up! public speaking events, hosted by Grant Thornton and Clarion.

Shortly after, an email from Grant Thornton to let me know I’d been nominated as one of their 100 Faces of a Vibrant Economy helped to lift my spirits. But I was ready for more positivity and came up with the idea of Igniting Summer.

This event showcased the progress of winners and nominees in Igniting Inspiration 2017. What an incredible event, full of joy, inspirational talks, music, dance, a BBQ and new connections. It was captured by La Vue Photographique who sponsored our photography. The event is definitely on the cards for 2019.

Membership was launched!

Then the Royal Society of Arts got in touch about a partnership and prompted me to launch a digital membership offer within the space of 72 hours. We now have members across the UK and abroad including two very supportive men!

Towards the end of summer, I was honoured to speak at a 2-day conference in Paris for top PAs from around Europe and China. I’d missed this kind of networking, having worked on international teams for the first half of my career as a multilingual headhunter.

Then we held our first member-led event in Huddersfield, with the venue sponsored by Global Diversity Positive Action and supported by student volunteers Kiran Firdos and Laura Bowen.

November saw the Faces of a Vibrant Economy exhibition in London where the photo above was featured. The photographer was previously a Director on Superman and Wolverine.

He was such a professional that he allayed my self-consciousness about the alopecia. At the exhibition, I met other ‘Faces’, including Rachel Clacher, the Founder of Moneypenny, who gave me 30 minutes of her valuable time.

And of course, there was Igniting Inspiration 2018, which wouldn’t have happened without aspire-igen’s venue sponsorship, the support of all our other sponsors and Roth Read Photography who offered to take the exceptional photos at the awards and after-party at The Midland Hotel.

Special thanks to our MC Minoti, Joe Grant from aspire-igen for amazing food and volunteers Kiran Firdos and Charlie Roberts.

What’s next?

There were additional goals, such as delivering social impact reports for corporate partners (achieved), reaching 1200 Twitter followers by the end of 2018 (almost there), and reaching 100 members (not quite halfway there).

The ultimate goal is to launch an Inspiring Global Citizens programme for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in 2019. The first would cost £1000 to run for a cohort of six to eight young people. We are crowdfunding to achieve this goal but so far have only reached £280. You can help by contributing via the link here.

Member Achievements
There have been so many wins, but here are a few:

  • Maddie Julian and the rest of the Digibete team for winning a succession of awards for their pioneering work on raising awareness of Diabetes Type 1.
  • Elizabeth Wright for her TEDx Talk at TEDx Norwich Ed.
  • No Fixed IDentity for releasing her vinyl.
  • Linda Watson-Brown for ghostwriting another soon-to-be bestseller with Cait Spencer.
  • Minoti Parikh for becoming an honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University.
  • Paula Atherill and the rest of the expedition team for raising £25K for education projects in Zambia.
  • Natasha McCreesh for leading her third mission for business leaders to boost Liberia’s economy.
  • Lesley O’Brien for winning the Diversity-Driven SME award in Igniting Inspiration Awards.

So Inspiring Women Changemakers…what will 2019 bring for us?! I for one will not try to predict, given the extreme highs and lows I’ve ridden out over the last few years. I hope you rested and recharged because we have good work to do this year!

About Inspiring Women Changemakers

Inspiring Women Changemakers is a dynamic, women-led movement for positive social change. We help our members to powerfully connect, communicate and campaign.