50 inspirational women in Gloucestershire

SoGlos celebrates 50 of Gloucestershire’s most inspirational women, from business leaders to Olympic medallists, authors and poets.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
SoGlos is proud to be highlighting 50 inspirational women in Gloucestershire.
SoGlos is proud to be highlighting 50 inspirational women in Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire is home to some incredible women who have achieved inspirational feats right here in the county and across the world.

From the UK’s most decorated Olympian to the first Black woman to be elected to Gloucester City Council, SoGlos highlights 50 of the most inspirational women in Gloucestershire.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in business

Dr Diane Savory OBE

Taking home the award for Outstanding Contribution to Business in Gloucestershire at the SoGlos Gloucestershire Business Awards 2021, Dr Diane Savory has led countless local organisations in the county.

Through her work as the former chair of GFirst LEP, she helped to secure more than £100 million of government funding for Gloucestershire businesses – facilitating the Minster Innovation Exchange in Cheltenham; the AccXel construction school in the Forest of Dean; and The Digital Innovation Farm at Hartpury University; among others.

Before that, Dr Savory helped take Superdry from scratch to floatation on the stock market with a record share price. She is also chair of Cheltenham Festivals.

Ruth Dooley

Ruth Dooley is the current chair of GFirst LEP, responsible for leading the LEP board, working with partners to engage the government, ensuring the organisation’s ambitious growth plans for the county are realised and building on its impressive legacy.

Alongside this, Dooley is a chartered accountant and tax adviser, partner and head of litigation at Hazlewoods LLP and a South West Accountant of the Year winner. Plus, she has been contributing to the Prince’s Trust, Fredericks Gloucestershire, BBC Radio Gloucestershire and the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire for more than 30 years.

Lucy Beresford

Having been with Cheltenham-based SLG for over 17 years, Lucy Beresford has been influential in establishing the company as a leading global brand, with products stocked in over 55,000 locations across the world.

The beauty incubator business, which develops and creates new products from its HQ in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter, has seen rapid growth across the UK and internationally, with joint managing director Beresford helping to drive retail sales at home and abroad, commercial and licensing contracts and develop new brands – including SLG’s eco haircare range, Rhyme & Reason.

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor stepped into the pivotal role of managing director of Gloucestershire Airport in January 2021, with a vision to turn the airport into a ‘gateway for growth’, a centre of excellence for all aspects of business aviation and a hub for local businesses – providing convenient links to the Cyber Park in Cheltenham, The Forum development in Gloucester, as well as key county events.

As well as being key in securing £15 million in funding for runway improvements and critical works to boost the airport’s future potential, Taylor is also driving the development of the CGX Connect business park.

As one of very few women in leadership positions within the aviation industry, Taylor hopes to inspire more women to work in the sector.

Jo James

Jo James set up Bedfolk with her husband in 2018 and has taken the brand from strength to strength. Starting with a mission to disrupt the uninspiring bed linen market, the couple sold their London flat to set up the business and even spent their honeymoon touring Europe to find the best materials and craftspeople to work with.

The business won the Worth Capital Start Up Series in March 2019 and saw sales increase by 500 per cent that year. Then in 2021, the business won a £1 million investment from retail and consumer specialist investment firm, True. Bedfolk was also recently named in J.P. Morgan’s top 200 female-powered UK businesses list and James was a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year at SGGBA in 2021.

Sarah Dunning OBE

As well as heading up the Westmoreland family business since 2005, Sarah Dunning is the founder of the UK’s most unique and sustainable motorway services – including the county’s own Gloucester Services – transforming the service station experience with a farm shop; fresh, handmade food made with local produce; and ‘nature-friendly’ buildings inspired by the surrounding landscape.

Dunning is a champion of her businesses values and was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to the food, drink and hospitality sectors.

Rachel Geliamassi

As managing director of Stagecoach West, Rachel Geliamassi is responsible for all bus and coach services across the west of England and Oxfordshire. Having joined the UK’s biggest bus, coach and tram operator in 2007 as part of its graduate training scheme, Geliamassi has risen through the ranks at the company, holding operations manager positions across the country, before becoming operations director for Stagecoach West in 2014.

Geliamassi was appointed managing director of Stagecoach West in April 2021, making her responsible for 1,500 employees and more than 500 buses, facilitating over 44 million journeys every year. After the disruption of the pandemic, Geliamassi is working hard to help Stagecoach West recover, developing close relationships with local authorities; reassuring passengers as people return to regular bus travel; supporting local businesses with sustainable travel solutions; and working towards greener travel for the county, with the introduction of 21 brand-new environmentally friendly buses to the Gloucestershire fleet.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in development and construction

Nicola Bird and Natalie Bell

As the founder and managing director of AccXel, Nicola Bird is the driving force behind the UK’s first specialist constructions skills centre in the Forest of Dean, working for four years to develop the concept and create a bespoke apprenticeship model better suited to the real world needs of the construction industry.

Bird is also the safety and business development director for respected Gloucestershire construction firm K W Bell Group and Bell Homes; with a master's degree in construction safety management; and a postgraduate certificate in leading business too.

As a family business, Natalie Bell – Bird's sister – also plays an important role at AccXel as growth partnership and director.

A qualified barrister, Bell has put her legal skills to good use in the construction industry, building a new development region for Kier Living in south Wales in less than two years, as well as working on land acquisition, joint ventures, affordable housing and construction projects. Bell is also an advocate for women in construction, paving the way for more women to succeed in the sector.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in science, technology and healthcare

Sarah Scott

As the executive director of adult social care and public health at Gloucestershire County Council, Sarah Scott spearheaded the county’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, helping to spread vital public health messages to the local community.

From the council launching a free, online community help hub to introducing free, regular, rapid Covid-19 testing for critical workers in Gloucester, Scott was instrumental in explaining why regular testing was still so important when lockdown restrictions eased, to continue to manage and prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Gloucestershire.

Clare Bourne

As the head of delivery, innovation and growth at CyNam, Clare Bourne helps to support the growth and development of cyber businesses across Gloucestershire, as well as developing the cyber community in Cheltenham specifically, ahead of the opening of the Golden Valley Development – with some of the world’s biggest names, including Microsoft and GCHQ already on board.

Bourne is described as a leading figure in the industry, working hard to drive real change in Gloucestershire and facilitate cyber tech innovation through her work at CyNam.

Deborah Lee

As the CEO of Gloucestershire Hospitals, Deborah Lee is responsible for the day-to-day leadership of Gloucestershire’s NHS Trust. She guided the organisation through the challenges of the pandemic, whilst making achievements under the most difficult of circumstances.

Under Lee’s lead, Gloucestershire Hospitals submitted plans to create two centres of excellence, one for planned care at Cheltenham General Hospital and one for emergency care at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, after six months of public and staff consultation, with the trust announcing an investment of £101 million in the county’s hospitals in September 2021.

Prior to joining Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lee was awarded the chairman’s lifetime achievement award for the person who had made the most difference to the trust in their tenure during her time with University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. She has been recognised by the Health Service Journal as one of the 50 most inspirational women in healthcare, as well as making the list of Top 50 NHS Chief Executives for the last two years.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in the arts

Rizpah Amadasun

Artist, fashion designer and spoken word poet, Rizpah Amadasun, creates colourful Afrocentric art which focuses on positive representations of the African Diaspora in her paintings, garments and poetry. Celebrating her culture and identity as a Black British woman, she hopes her art encourages others to celebrate their own identity too.

As well as having a poem commissioned for Luke Jerram’s Of Earth and Sky art installation in Gloucester in 2020, Amadasun has performed spoken word poetry at Gloucester Rooftop Festival and Cheltenham Literature Festival and has exhibited a collection of Afrocentric paintings at the Museum of Gloucester. She was also accepted to study a master's in painting at the Royal College of Art, where she is gaining critical acclaim for her work. 

Lil Rice

After the death of founder, Nell Gifford, in December 2019, her niece Lil Rice took the reigns as producer of Giffords Circus – celebrating Giffords’ 20th anniversary and producing the last show Nell wrote, all while still coming to terms with the death of her aunt.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and The Hooley tour had to be cancelled, it could have spelled the end of Giffords Circus altogether. But Rice worked throughout lockdown to keep the business going, developing socially distanced show The Feast, before finally getting to put The Hooley in front of audiences from May 2021.

Daisy May Cooper

Hailing from Cirencester, as well as winning the BAFTA for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2018 for her role as Kerry Mucklowe in This Country, Daisy May Cooper also took home the BAFTA for Best Scripted Comedy for the show which she co-created and co-wrote with her brother.

A regular on TV panel shows and TikTok sensation, Cooper has also released a book, Don’t Laugh, It’ll Only Encourage Her; an irreverent memoir of her journey from humble roots in the Cotswolds to TV stardom.

Lyndsey Fineran

Named as one of The Bookseller’s rising stars in 2019, Cheltenham Literature Festival programme and commissions manager, Lyndsey Fineran, has helped to grow the festival’s offering over the last five years – most notably launching Cheltenham’s now legendary Lit Crawl in 2016.

Fineran is passionate about championing non-traditional formats at festivals, helping to reach new audiences and create new opportunities to engage with the written and spoken word. She also sits on the board of the British Arts Festivals Association and is a mentor for the Society of Young Publishers.

Anna Saunders

Anna Saunders is a respected poet, with six collections of poetry published and her work being likened to that of Sylvia Plath. She is also the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival, and is responsible for planning, programming, delivering, marketing and fundraising for the festival.

On top of that, Saunders is also an active and passionate creative writing mentor working with both prose and poetry writers, hosting weekly online writing workshops, virtual open mic events and editing manuscripts.

Jamila Gavin

Author Jamila Gavin has been publishing critically acclaimed and award-shortlisted novels and short stories since 1979 – with her book Coram Boy, which was set in Gloucestershire, winning the Children’s Whitbread Award in 2000 and being shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, before being adapted for the stage.

In 2016, Gavin founded the Stroud Book Festival which has brought the likes of Lemn Sissay, Bernardine Evaristo, Ian McEwan and Mary Portas to the town, as well as supporting local writers, poets, publishers and booksellers.

Beverley Grimster

Beverley Grimster is a trustee of Cheltenham Festivals and is passionate about inclusion and representation in the arts and sciences. Engaging with minority communities in Gloucestershire and beyond, Grimster helps Cheltenham Festivals reach out to and engage people and groups who might feel the festivals aren’t designed for them.

In her 16 years of working as a service delivery manager for the Independence Trust, Grimster has also worked with some of Gloucestershire’s most vulnerable groups, helping individuals improve their emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as promoting more positive attitudes toward mental health in the county.

Alexis Paterson

Alexis Patterson spent five years as the music festival manager for Cheltenham Festivals, forming one half of the two-person team responsible for programming, planning and delivering the annual Cheltenham Music Festival – where she helped to deliver 100 premieres as well as being described as a ‘driving force’ behind the Composer Academy.

In 2016, Paterson was appointed CEO of Three Choirs Festival, making her responsible for not only the operation of the organisation and the planning, programming and production of the event each year, but also futureproofing the world’s oldest classical music festival – ensuring it stays relevant for generations to come.

PJ Crook MBE

Gloucestershire artist PJ Crook is famed for her distinctive style and technical mastery of depth of field in painting. She has had her work exhibited all over the world since the 1970s – with one of her most recent exhibitions having taken place at the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art in Fukushima.

Crook was awarded an MBE in 2011, recognising her contributions to art and is the president of the Friends of The Wilson Cheltenham Art Galley and Museum, as well as being a patron for many local charities, including ArtShape, Cheltenham Open Studios, LINC and National Star.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in sport

Charlotte DuJardin CBE

After winning two gold medals at her first Olympic Games in 2012, Hartpury University and Hartpury College educated Charlotte DuJardin has gone on become the most decorated female Olympian of all time with three gold, one silver and two bronze medals in equestrian dressage.

DuJardin was awarded an OBE in 2013 and a CBE in 2017 for her services to the sport. She is also a global ambassador for Brooke – an international charity to protect working horses, donkeys and mules.

Mel Nicholls

After her third stroke left her unable to walk or use most of the left side of her body, Mel Nicholls watched the Beijing Olympics in 2008 from her bed. Inspired by the games, she took up track racing and raced at the London 2012 Paralympics just 15 months later; before moving to handcycling and being selected for GB Paracycling in 2017 – achieving international medal success in her first season as part of the team.

Nicholls is also an ambassador for the Ordnance Survey as a #GetOutside champion; an honorary patron of The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury; and a sports ambassador for Hartpury College and University, helping to deliver sessions with sports students on competing from an elite athlete’s point of view. Plus, she completed a 4,000 mile solo and self-supported world record race around the coast of Britain by handbike in 2021.

Anna McLean

Anna McLean is one half of The Seablings – the world’s first ever brother and sister team to row across an ocean. The 3,000-mile cross Atlantic challenge took the siblings 43 days, 15 hours and 22 minutes, earning them two Guinness World Records. They used the challenge to support UN Women UK, breaking gender stereotypes and showing what it meant to be ‘in the same boat’ while also raising over £27,000 for the charity.

McLean’s love of rowing began during her time at Cheltenham Ladies’ College where she co-captained the rowing team before attending university in the United States.

Robyn Wilkins

After playing rugby from the age of seven and holding her own within a squad of boys until the age of 11, Robyn Wilkins made her international debut at 18, kicking two penalties against Italy in the opening match of the 2014 Six Nations. She has been a prominent member of the Welsh women’s rugby union squad ever since.

As well as being a fly-half for Gloucester-Hartpury women’s team, Wilkins has represented Wales 51 times on the international stage, including in both the 2014 and 2017 Women’s World Cups, with the aim to reach a third.

Jamie Chadwick

Tetbury-based racing driver Jamie Chadwick found her passion for motorsport at just 11 years old. After amassing several wins in the junior series, she was recognised as a British Racing Drivers’ Club rising star and went on to become the youngest and first ever female driver to win the British GT Championship; the first female winner of the British Formula 3 race; and the first female winner of the MR Challenge Championship.

Chadwick won the inaugural W Series in 2019 and was appointed as a development driver for the Williams F1 team, with the aim to pursue a top-level career in motorsport. On top of her remarkable sporting success, Chadwick is also an ambassador of local cancer charity, Hope for Tomorrow, completing a 100-mile cycling challenge to raise money for the charity during lockdown in 2020.

Vicky Holland

Gloucester-born triathlete Vicky Holland is the first woman to win an Olympic triathlon medal after taking bronze at Rio 2016. She won bronze at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, before taking the ITU Triathlon World Champion title in 2018.

As well as her individual achievements, Holland has a string of accolades as part of a mixed relay team too, having won two Mixed Relay World Championship titles in 2012 and 2014, as well as a Commonwealth Mixed Relay gold.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in education

Eve Jardine-Young

Eve Jardine-Young has worked in education for over 25 years and has been the Principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College since 2011. She is a passionate advocate for pupils’ wellbeing, aiming to support and challenge pupils, promote independence and embrace diversity in the school community she oversees, nurturing a culture of compassion and resilience, alongside achieving outstanding academic results.

Over the last two years, the independent school has achieved its best ever International Baccalaureate results; launched flexible boarding options to allow girls more flexibility to spend time with friends and family both in and outside the school community; seen research experiments from three Year 12 pupils launched into space on board the NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility; and achieved the highest possible rating from the ISI during its latest inspection.

Jardine-Young is also the chair of the World Leading Schools Association and is a trustee of the Barnwood Trust, which supports marginalised and vulnerable adults to lead more independent lives.

Dame Janet Trotter DBE

Dame Janet Trotter has had an illustrious career, with notable achievements including being awarded an OBE in 1991; founding the University of Gloucestershire in 2001 – the year she was also awarded a DBE – and acting as its first Vice-Chancellor until 2006.

She was also the chair of the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from 2002 until 2010 and was the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire from 2010 to 2018, where she represented the Queen in performing ceremonial duties and overseeing royal visits to the county. She received a CVO for her services to the Royal Family in 2018.

Dame Trotter is also a patron to a number of local charities, including the Nelson Trust, St Vincent’s and St George’s Association and The Cyber Trust.

Saba Yousif

After qualifying as a solicitor in 1999, Saba Yousif worked as a litigator until 2010, gaining experience in regulatory and judicial reviews, as well as in public international law. She has worked on a number of high-profile cases including those involving unlawful detention and harm in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as landmark cases extending the application of the European Convention of Human Rights.

With a passion to inspire others to know, understand and use the law for themselves and others, Yousif joined the University of Gloucestershire as senior lecturer in law and set up the university’s Law Clinic where student advisors work with clients on a range of diverse legal issues from employment to consumer law on a pro bono basis – all under Yousif’s expert guidance.

Clare Marchant

With a track record of delivering reform and digital transformation in public services, UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant has led the higher education organisation with the aim of enhancing learning choices across the country since 2017.

Marchant is passionate about how education can benefit individuals lives, as well as society overall – with this ethos driving her work at UCAS. The organisation is currently undergoing a significant digital transformation.

Jane Monckton-Smith

Professor Jane Monkton-Smith is a forensic criminologist specialising in homicide, stalking and coercive control; a former police officer; a professor of public protection at the University of Gloucestershire; as well as an internationally renowned author.

Her research focuses on interpersonal violence and preventing homicide, with particular focus on violence against women, violence in relationships and domestic abuse. In her book, In Control: Dangerous Relationships and How They End in Murder which was published in early 2021, Professor Monckton-Smith explains how her ground-breaking research led to the creation of the eight stages of a domestic homicide timeline, to help individuals and authorities identify the stages in which coercive relationships can escalate to violence and murder.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in politics

Siobhan Baillie

The first female MP to represent Stroud, the Valleys and the Vale, Siobhan Baillie has been working for the local community since 2019. Baillie is an ambassador for the region’s small and independent businesses; an advocate for further education and young entrepreneurs; a champion of the NHS; and works hard to protect the natural environment and develop greener transport options for Stroud.

A qualified solicitor, Baillie was listed in the Legal 500 rankings as a highly recommended solicitor and member of the number one family law team in the Thames Valley, before moving into politics after 17 years in law. She has also been the head of policy and communications for national charity OnePlusOne, working on projects around relationships and sex education, parental conflict, no fault divorce research and creating virtual relationship support. She has also volunteered for Scrubditch Care Farm in Gloucestershire.

Carol Francis

As well as being the first Black woman to be elected to Gloucester City Council, Carol Francis was also the first Black sheriff and deputy mayor of Gloucester City. Having been volunteering since her teens, Francis has dedicated an incredible amount of her time to providing services to the community in Gloucester, from setting up Unity Youth Club for young Black people, launching Gloucester FM community radio station to chairing the city council’s Race Equality Forum, alongside her work as a magistrate.

Francis set up the BME Police and Community Trust (PACT) to improve levels of trust and confidence in Gloucestershire Constabulary within the community; became a member of the Legitimacy Panel providing independent advice to the police; and was part of a task force set up by then deputy prime minister, Harriet Harman, to encourage more women of colour into public service.

In 2020, Francis was also honoured with the Mayor’s Medal for her outstanding contributions to the city of Gloucester and its community.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in fashion and beauty

Jade Holland Cooper

Jade Holland Cooper has established herself as one of Gloucestershire’s most successful businesswomen and a top British fashion designer too. After quitting the Royal Agricultural College to sell her tweed and country wear-inspired miniskirts at the Badminton Horse Trials, the Cheltenham-based entrepreneurial designer has seen her signature Holland Cooper brand pass £10 million turnover in 2018, with turnover trebling between 2020 and 2021, with a huge growth in online sales during the pandemic.

Stocked in over 120 stores in the UK, the brand continues to expand, with Holland Cooper launching her first childrenswear range, Little HC, in 2021 and opening a flagship boutique in Cheltenham with the first ever Holland Cooper Boot Room too.

Emma Willis MBE

For over 20 years, Emma Willis has been famous for her range of quality hand-cut and sewn shirts, nightgowns and underwear sold on Jermyn Street in London. A champion of traditional skills, British manufacturing and a favourite of Prince Charles, she was awarded an MBE for entrepreneurship in 2014. She is also a deputy lieutenant of Gloucestershire and an honorary fellow of the University of Gloucestershire for her active support of its fashion students.

Willis is passionate about the community and volunteering. As well as running a sewing school for the community and fundraising for local charities, she also created Style for Soldiers – a charity providing complimentary smart clothing for injured servicemen and women. She is also passionate about providing employment opportunities to young and vulnerable people, including providing jobs for Syrian refugees through her work with GARAS in Gloucester.

Lisa Von Hallwyl

From starting off by making her own hats for her wedding, Lisa Von Hallwyl has been making couture hats and headpieces for over 15 years. Holding an MA in costume and fashion, as well as specialist training in millinery, the award-winning Cotswold hatmaker’s designs are favoured by celebrities and royals – with her hats even gracing heads at the royal wedding of Meghan and Harry.

Crafted in her Cotswolds showroom, Von Hallwyl’s hats are all bespoke-made. She also offers a range of hats to hire and hosts specialist millinery classes too, to pass on her unique skills.

Lauren Williams and Abi Walker

Lauren Williams and Abi Walker set up Soup Cans to provide stereotype-free, gender-neutral clothing and, in their own words, ‘stop labelling people like we’re soup cans’. With a range of items for adults and children, the small Cheltenham-based business is aiming to make a big difference in the fashion industry.

With all its t-shirts, sweatshirts and baby grows made from 100 per cent organic cotton, as well as being both a gender-neutral and ethically made fashion brand, Soup Cans also has a range of Pride-themed garments to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community too.

Tanya Buxton

Cheltenham-based tattoo artist, Tanya Buxton, does much more than create beautiful artwork on people's bodies - she's also an expert in medical tattooing. Buxton offers a variety of techniques to patients who have undergone surgery, from micro needling to help with the appearance of scar tissue, to cover-ups and even scalp micro-pigmentation.

Perhaps Buxton's most sought-after service, though, is her incredible 3D nipple tattoos. This highly specialist skill involves creating a three-dimensional tattoo of the area, which helps people who have had mastectomies, breast cancer survivors and people in the trans community regain their body confidence with her incredibly realistic reconstructions. Buxton also founded the Mastectomy Tattooing Alliance in 2021, to provide information and funding about mastectomy and areola tattoos for people with breast cancer. 

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in food and drink

Clarice and Cicely Elliot-Berry

Clarice and Cicely Elliot-Berry form half of the four-sibling team behind Cheltenham’s Sibling Distillery. The sisters and their two brothers opened their small batch distillery in 2014 when the youngest of the siblings was still too young to legally drink – and all of them were under 25!

Sibling Gin is one of only three gins in the UK to be awarded full marks at the Great Taste Awards, with the siblings doing everything themselves by hand – from creating their own cane sugar base spirit, preparing the fresh fruits and botanicals, to bottling the gin. Their combination of traditional distilling techniques, state of the art equipment and creative flavours sets them apart from the competition.

Inspirational Gloucestershire women in charity

Florence Nyasamo-Thomas

Florence Nyasamo-Thomas founded Lives of Colour to foster inclusion, diversity and community cohesion in Gloucestershire. Working to educate local businesses and organisations to create the infrastructure needed to embrace diversity, the organisation also offers workshops, hosts exhibitions and works with schools to address bias and drive inclusion.

Nyasamo-Thomas also chairs the African Community Foundation Gloucestershire and through this organisation, she founded Black History Month in Cheltenham to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black people in the local community.

Dawn Dolphin

Founder and chair of Gloucestershire Bundles, Dawn Dolphin, set up the charity to provide emergency bundles of toys, clothes, toiletries and baby equipment to local families in need.

During the pandemic, the Quedgeley-based charity saw an unprecedented increase in referrals, with the financial impact of lockdowns drastically affecting families across the county. Without its usual volunteer base to step in and lend a hand, Dolphin worked tirelessly throughout lockdown to keep the charity running and help families who needed it most – all while taking care of her own family at the same time.

Dolphin was also recognised as part of #GlosHeroes, for her contributions to the community during the pandemic.

Judith Bell

Judith Bell is the director of clinical services at tic+ (Teens in Crisis) – a Gloucestershire charity that offers counselling and support to young people and their families. With a master's in healthcare leadership from the NHS Leadership Academy as well as qualifications in counselling children and young people, Bell helps teenagers and their families to share their thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental space, with the aim of helping them to resolve their difficulties.

tic+ supported over 3,000 young people in 2019/20, dealing with a range of issues including depression, anxiety, bullying, relationship issues and low self-esteem – with the pandemic leading to a huge rise in demand for counselling and mental health services. With face-to-face counselling forced to pause, tic+ migrated all of its services online during lockdown and launched its anonymous, confidential helpline tic+chat in June 2020 to continue supporting young people during the pandemic – before migrating back to a blend of online and face-to-face services as soon as it was able.

Julie Kent MBE

After retiring from her position as the house mistress of Dean Close School, which she held for over 30 years, Julie Kent was recognised with an MBE for services to charity and extraordinary fundraising in October 2020.

Tragically losing her three-year-old daughter to a brain tumour, she set up The Emily Kent Charitable Trust in her memory, initially to raise money for anaesthetic equipment to use on children requiring MRI scans at Bristol Royal Infirmary. After this, the charity continued to raise money for children with cancer in Gloucestershire – donating £50,000 to The Pied Piper Appeal at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital’s children’s centre and £50,000 to Bristol Royal Infirmary too.

That wasn’t the end of Kent’s contributions, though, as she went on to fundraise for Clic Sargent and the Teenage Cancer Trust; became vice chair of Pied Piper appeal and a Trustee for Goals Beyond; before joining Cheltenham Open Door as chair in 2020 and leading the charity through what became its most challenging time to date.

Dr Sally Byng OBE

With a background in speech and language therapy, specialising in helping those with brain injuries, Dr Sally Byng is a lifelong advocate for social change related to disability and the chief executive of The Barnwood Trust – a charity working to help disabled people and people with mental health issues in Gloucestershire make the most of their lives.

She was awarded an OBE in 2005 and became a deputy lieutenant of Gloucestershire in 2018. Through her work at The Barnwood Trust, Byng’s key priority is to develop the charity’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion and work to make changes at a grassroots level.

Julie Stokes

Believing in the importance of involving children both before and after the death of a parent, Julie Stokes set up Cheltenham-based charity, Winston’s Wish, in 1992 to provide support to children who have been bereaved. She won the BT/Childline award for providing outstanding services to children and in 2006; received an OBE for her services to children and families; and is also the vice chair of The Childhood Bereavement Network.

Stokes continues to support bereaved children and their families through Winston’s Wish and, during the pandemic, set up a dedicated helpline and online resources to help children understand and cope with sudden loss, when lockdown restrictions prevented hospital visits and funeral attendance.

Helen Chu

As the community and charity manager at Gloucester Rugby, Helen Chu plays an active and central part in achieving Gloucester Rugby Foundation’s ambitious plans, which encompass participation, education and wellbeing.

With a passion to reach young people living in areas of high deprivation, high youth unemployment and health inequality, through her work with the foundation, Chu aims to use sport to achieve positive social change in the local community. Chu also recently received her MBA from the University of Gloucestershire.

Gill Rouse

Gill Rouse founded LINC, starting with a project to raise £30,000 to buy a blood analyser for oncology outpatients at Cheltenham General Hospital after experiencing first-hand the long delays leukaemia patients were facing for blood test results, before beginning chemotherapy.

After achieving this goal, LINC’s patient and family division was launched and since then the charity has gone on to fund a new outpatient facility at Cheltenham General Hospital and a state of the art haematology day centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, as well as purchasing equipment to help diagnose leukaemia and items to help improve patients experiences.

Keasha Kellam

Keasha Kellam is the founder of Honour Thy Woman, which provides support to women who are suffering domestic abuse. Following her own personal experiences of domestic abuse, Kellam says she wants to be there for women in need, particularly for people in rural areas who feel isolated and cut off from services in the city, with Honour Thy Woman offering support across Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud and the Forest of Dean. She also won the Ingenuity Impact Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2022. 

Honour Thy Woman helps to empower anyone who identifies as female against domestic abuse and takes a holistic approach, providing things like peer mentoring, self defence classes, creative activities and mental health and wellbeing support, to help people develop confidence, self esteem and improve their quality of life. It can also signpost people to urgent support where needed, with its key partners including Gloucestershire Constabulary, LGBTQ Partnership, GayGlos, GARAS, Barnwood Trust, Gloucester City Homes and GRASAC.

Inspirational Gloucestershire female dignitaries

The Rt Reverend Rachel Treweek

Consecrated as the 41st Bishop of Gloucester in July 2015, Rachel Treweek has made history not once, but twice, becoming the first female diocesan bishop in the Church of England and the first female bishop in the House of Lords, too.

As well as her work within the church, Reverend Treweek created the Liedentity campaign in 2016 to help young people overcome pressures and anxieties around their body image in the age of social media. She has also urged the House of Lords to change the criminal justice system and abolish short term prison sentences for women with non-violent crimes.

The Rt Hon Countess Lady Bathurst

As well as being the former High Sheriff of Gloucestershire and managing the Bathurst Estate within Cirencester Park, Lady Bathurst is a passionate campaigner for the county she calls home and is a patron for several local charities, including Lilian Faithfull Care, Longfield House and LINC.

She also runs her own holiday cottage business, with three luxury holiday homes in the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean where she is passionate about supporting small independent businesses and local suppliers.

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