Thursday, 30 June 2011

A lovely afternoon of Circle Dancing

Saturday the 25th was my Circle Dance & Tea fundraising event at Kettlesing Millennium Hall and it was BRILLIANT! A big thank you to everyone who came and supported Women for Women International so generously.

The music and dances our teacher - Sophia Hatch ( - chose were simply beautiful. Thank you Sophia!

Thank you also to Steve Mcenaney - a very talented amateur photographer  (see and look at the gallery of his work) who kindly volunteered to come and take photos of us dancing. Here are some of the ones I like best.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Fame at last!

There's a photo of me with Pete and Andy from CrossfitHG3, and an article about how I'm training for the Everest trek, in the Yorkshire Evening Post today!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Perfect Week-End Treat

I've finally booked a date and venue for what I think will be a very successful fundraising event - an afternoon of pampering and indulgence on Saturday, 13th August at the Ascot House Hotel in Kings Road, Harrogate. Please put this date in your diaries.

I was going to call this event 'The Perfect Girls' Week-End Treat' until a friend pointed out that I may not get many coming if I restrict it to perfect girls! Ha, ha, very funny! Anyway, I decided it was a bit sexist to think only women may be interested, so it is of course open to men as well. Come on guys get in touch with your feminist side and find out what you've been missing!

The idea is that you will pay a £5 entry fee and then be offered lots of tempting treats. There'll be various therapy treatment tasters to choose from, such as shoulder and back massage, Indian head massage , reflexology, mini facials, hands or feet nail polish, etc. These will also cost £5. And for those of you who like retail therapy I've got a number of stalls selling beauty products, offering mini make-overs, selling jewellery and gifts, etc. I'm also having a raffle as some very generous people have donated excellent prizes, including, for example, a magnum of Champagne and some Chanel perfume.

The Ascot House Hotel ( is a beautifully decorated and furnished family-run hotel, with a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere and a great reputation. The Kirkpatrick family who own and run it are bending over backwards to support me with this event, for which I'm really grateful. 

You can buy tickets before the event by emailing me at or just turn up and pay on the day.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Will my knees be up to the mark?

My husband Glyn and I both have dodgy knees, his from football injuries and mine from thumping the pavements in recent years. Nevertheless last year we decided to support a friend of Glyn's who had organised a walk up Mount Snowdon for Arthritis Research. Ironic, isn't it? Going up was not too bad really, but going down was horrendous! We weren't very well-equipped as we only had 2 walking poles between us. Glyn has much the worse knees so he got first dibs on both poles at the most difficult points. After we got home he actually recovered more quickly than me but I think we both eventually felt strengthened by the experience.

Well, I'll be getting another chance to test my knees out as the Everest trek team are due to meet up at some point for a team building training walk. Guess where we're going? Snowdon. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

WFWI's work in Bosnia

Seida Saric
I've just returned from a meeting in London with fellow trekkers and staff from Women for Women International UK. I'm pleased to say I managed to get a return train ticket for £20 thanks to a Harrogate Advertiser offer! I do like a bargain!

The main reason for getting together was to meet and hear from Seida Saric, the Country Director for WFWI in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She has been in the UK to speak at a number of meetings and conferences, including 'Banking on Women', a conference involving leading researchers, financial institutions and NGOs aimed at promoting gender equality and improving women's economic participation. She was able to fit in some time with our small group and it was a great opportunity to hear first-hand about the situation in Bosnia and how WFWI works there.  

Lately the news has been full of the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander, and his leading role in the conflict between Christian Serbs and Muslim Bosniaks that saw thousands of men die as a result of ethnic cleansing. Although it's 16 years since the end of the end of the conflict, Seida explained that the lives of many people in Bosnia, including the wives, mothers and sisters of Mladic’s alleged victims have been irrevocably altered by the events of April 1992 to December 1995. She said that the level of poverty in Bosnia now is actually worse than immediately after the war and that Bosnia is the poorest country in Europe.

In Bosnia, as in other countries that have experienced conflict and where men are traditionally the breadwinners, widows in particular have faced terrible hardship. But one of the worst things during the conflict was the daily mass rapes endured by women imprisoned in rape camps. Seida, herself a survivor of the siege of Sarajevo, remembers fearing the rape camps more than death. "Death was one thing - if it's death, it's death and maybe that's your destiny" she said, "but we were hearing that there were rape camps and we were more afraid of ending up there".

Bosnia is the first country where rape was offcially recognised as a strategy of war. Thanks to the courage of the women who spoke out about the horror they endured, for the first time ever rape was prosecuted as a war crime.

The training programmes Seida runs are open to women from different communities and different ethnic groups, including Christian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims, and this is unfortunately very rare. The programme includes rights awareness classes, help with literacy and numeracy, job skills training, business training and the women get access to microcredit loans. There is also emotional support. For many it's the first opportunity they've had to talk about their traumatic experiences in a safe environment.

The WFWI programmes in Bosnia have enabled almost 30,000 women to start up and successfully run their own small businesses - growing and selling vegatables, raising livestock, and using their knitting and embroidery skills in partnership with fashion designer Kate Spade, who's based in New York.

The women are also offered skills training in the following areas:
  • Dairy production
  • Beekeeping
  • Berry cultivation
  • Medicinal herb collection
  • Elderly and child care.
Although there has been tremendous progress more needs to be done to help women sustain their businesses. Seida explained that the rules and regulations for small business in Bosnia are the same as for larger businesses and the crippling costs associated with these can force many small businesses to fold. So although many women have improved their circumstances the lack of an environment in which their businesses can flourish and grow means they cannot really feel safe and secure about the future.