14 inspirational women with links to Gloucestershire

From bestselling authors and award-winning actresses, to charity patrons and Olympians, discover 14 inspirational women with links to Gloucestershire.

SoGlos has teamed up with the world-renowned Cheltenham Ladies’ College to find 14 inspirational female figures – all with links to Gloucestershire.

From successful entrepreneurs and sportswomen, to the world’s biggest author, prepare to be inspired when you discover what these amazing women have achieved, along with flying the flag for the county.

For more information about Cheltenham Ladies’ College, visit cheltladiescollege.org directly.


1. Dame Mary Archer

Dame Mary Archer

Dame Mary Archer is renowned for her work in the fields of health and science, particularly for pioneering new initiatives within the NHS and for extensive work around solar power conversion.

Educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Dame Mary Archer studied chemistry at the University of Oxford, followed by a PhD in physical chemistry at Imperial College, London. Following academic posts and leading roles in a number of NHS trusts, Mary was appointed DBE for services to the NHS in 2012 and was announced as chair of the Science Museum Group in 2014, which oversees four national museums for science, media, the railway, and science and industry.


2. J. K. Rowling

J K Rowling

Multi award-winning author J. K. Rowling, who is estimated to have sold more than 450 million books worldwide, is synonymous with the wizarding world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, but also has links to Gloucestershire.

Born at nearby Yate General Hospital, J. K. Rowling was brought up right here in the county, moving to Tutshill at the age of nine and receiving a local education. She then went on to pen the phenomenally popular Harry Potter series, standalone novel The Casual Vacancy, and a number of crime novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.


3. Dame Kristin Scott Thomas

Dame Kriston Scott Thomas

Image © Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com

Award-winning actress Dame Kristin Ann Scott Thomas DBE spent part of her teenage years in Gloucestershire, while studying at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

Among her many achievements in the acting world, accolades include a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA for Four Weddings and a Funeral; and a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for The English Patient. Meanwhile, in 2017 Kristin makes her directorial debut with romantic drama The Sea Change.


4. Cath Kidston

A businesswoman whose name is as famous as her signature floral designs, Cath Kidston MBE established her global brand in West London, and now has a house near Stroud – along with a shop in Cheltenham and numerous stockists in Gloucestershire, of course!

With more than 20 years in the industry, Cath Kidston has more than 90 stores across the UK, and more than 200 worldwide, making everything from bags and clothing, to stationery and a recent collaboration with Disney.


5. Tamara Hill-Norton

Tamara Hill-Norton

Image © Instagram, Studio1208

A hugely successful entrepreneur, Tamara Hill-Norton is the founder and creative director of global sportswear brand Sweaty Betty, not to mention being a fashion designer, athlete, and mother.

Before founding Sweaty Betty, Tamara grew up in Gloucestershire and was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. Sweaty Betty now has over 50 boutiques in the United Kingdom, six in the US, and concessions in leading department stores Harrods and Bloomingdale’s.


6. Jilly Cooper

Lady Ashcombe

Journalist, author, and national icon Jilly Cooper has a number of bestsellers to her name and was awarded an OBE in 2004 for her contribution to literature. She also received an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Gloucestershire, all impressive feats which followed Jilly being sacked from a whopping 22 jobs!

Now living in Gloucestershire, and an avid supporter of Forest Green Rovers Football Club, Jilly’s iconic series which features the irrepressible Rupert Campbell-Black is also set in our very own county.


7. Lady Bamford

Lady Carole Bamford

Lady Carole Bamford OBE’s passion for the organic farming movement led her to great things, founding the Daylesford Organic Farmshop chain, opening the first Daylesford café in Gloucester in 2002.

The franchise now spans four stand-along farm shops, located in Kingham, Pimlico Road, Notting Hill and Marylebone, in addition to having a concession in Selfridges Food Hall, and online shops. Meanwhile, Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire boasts a cookery school, cottage accommodation and a luxury spa.


8. Nell Gifford

Nell Gifford

From a childhood dream to adult reality, Oxford-educated Nell Gifford began Giffords Circus in 2000, which has grown a loyal army of fans over the past 16 years and now tours across Gloucestershire along with prestigious locations including Blenheim Palace and Chiswick House.

Giffords has become an incredible success, entertaining more than 650,000 people, featuring performers from across the world, and receiving critical acclaim. In addition to driving such a creative business, Nell Gifford also faced a personal battle when she was diagnosed with breast cancer – fighting the illness and cementing her reputation as a truly inspirational woman.


9. Zara Tindall

Zara Tindall

Image © Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

Daughter of Princess Anne, Zara Tindall MBE has carved a hugely successful career for herself as a British equestrian, competing and winning silver in the London 2012 Olympics, and winning the Eventing World Championship in 2006, along with receiving the title of Sports Personality of the Year.

Educated in Stroud and now living in Gloucestershire with her rugby player husband, Mike Tindall, Zara carried an Olympic Flame at Cheltenham Racecourse, and was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to equestrianism.


10. Dame Fiona Reynolds

Fiona Reynolds DBE, who now has a family home near Cirencester, attended Cambridge University and was Director General of the heritage charity National Trust, before becoming the first woman Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.


11. Charlotte Dujardin

Charlotte Dujardin

Elite British dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin OBE began her incredible career in Newent, Gloucestershire, getting a job as a groom at Olympian Carl Hester’s yard, where she has stayed ever since.

Going on to become a triple Gold Medalist during the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and London, along with holding world records in dressage, Charlotte has gone from strength to strength, and become one of Britain’s most successful female Olympians.


12. P. J. Crook

Cheltenham based painter P. J. Crook MBE not only boasts worldwide artistic success, but is a hugely admirable figure for her philanthropic work, which includes being patron for National Star College, Linc cancer charity, and Cheltenham Open Studios, among others.

Awarded an MBE for her services to art in 2011, P. J. Crook is also president of Friends of The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum, which supports the favourite Cheltenham venue.


13. Lady Ashcombe

Lady Ashcombe

Chatelaine of Sudeley Castle, Lady Ashcombe has played a significant role in transforming the historical stately home into a leading Gloucestershire attraction.

Deciding with her husband Mark Dent-Brocklehurst, who died in 1972, to open Sudeley Castle to the public in the early 1970s, Lady Ashcombe remains its custodian, and enjoys sharing its rich history and royal connections with visitors. Discover more about Lady Ashcombe's life in our interview.


14. Ellie Harrison

Journalist and television presenter Ellie Harrison was born and brought up in Gloucestershire, educated locally and went on to study geography at King’s College, London.

Alongside numerous presenting jobs including The One Show and Daily Planet, Ellie is best known for her role on BBC's Countryfile, which she took up in 2009.


By Kathryn Godfrey

© SoGlos
Tuesday 07 March 2017

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