12 inspirational and influential women across Staffordshire

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Who run the world? Girls. To celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8), we’ve put together a list of strong, inspirational women who support our community and make a difference.

Rachel Shenton

Rachel is no stranger to the big screen, having featured in big soaps such as Waterloo Road, Hollyoaks and Holby City. However, the reason the Caverswall-born actress is on our list is due to the well-deserved Oscar she won in 2018 for her short film The Silent Child. The film depicts a young, deaf girl named Libby who struggles to communicate until her parents bring in a social worker to teach her to sign. Rachel, who also fundraises for local charity Deaflinks, was widely praised for signing her Oscar’s acceptance speech.

Dawnie Deaville

Dawnie founded the charity Ruby Girl in 2010, which promoted self-worth, confidence and developing healthy relationships for young girls. In 2015, the charity introduced Ruff Diamondz, which offers life coaching for boys. Their coaching sessions and inspirational workshops really help change the way young minds think. The charity now has a creative space and store in the Intu Potteries centre, which provides work experience opportunities, as well as a safe space for people to go and chat.

Professor Liz Barnes

Liz has been the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University for almost three years. She is the fourth Vice Chancellor of the university, and the second to be female. In her role she is responsible for Learning and Teaching, Student Experience, Information Services, Academic Portfolio, Partnerships and Change Programmes. Additionally, she works alongside multi-academy trusts and is the co-chair of the Opportunity Area Partnership Board, which aims to provide and transform opportunities for young people across the city. Professor Barnes certainly makes us #proudtobestaffs.

Emma Bridgewater and Emma Bailey

These two Emma’s are flying the cultural flag for The Potteries as they continue the legacy of the ceramics industry that Stoke-on-Trent is proudly known for. The Emma Bridgewater Factory is on Lichfield Street, Hanley, with Emma Bailey’s studio located in Middleport Pottery. Bridgewater has painted mugs for the Royal weddings and babies, as well as the Royal British Legion and the centenary of the women’s vote. Bailey has been hand painting mugs for other big names, such as the cast of Celebrity Juice and America’s Next Top Model. The women are continuing Staffordshire’s long-held heritage and making us all proud.

Emma Bridgewater ceramics by Amanda Slater

Trudi Beswick

Trudi has been the chief executive of the national charity Caudwell Children since 2000. She is a woman who will do ‘whatever it takes’ to ‘enable disabled people to lead ordinary lives’. In the first seven years of Caudwell Children’s existence, employees like Trudi worked to deliver services for children in the North Midlands. Trudi would personally visit each family in the evenings and weekends to figure out the best ways the charity could help. There’s no wonder she was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Inspirational Awards for Women in 2017.

Mary-Ann Astle

Born in North Staffordshire, Mary-Ann has been a journalist at The Sentinel since 2000 after graduating from Teeside University. She has worked as Head of Events and Special Publications for the company. Three years ago she was appointed as Digital Editor for news, sport and features before being promoted to Executive Editor (Digital) later that year. In what has been a previously male-dominated career, seeing women like Mary-Ann in these prestigious roles makes her a great example for budding journalists and writers.

Mary-Ann Astle

Jeanette Jackson and Debra Oakes

Jeanette is the co-founder of volunteer-run group Help for the Homeless, which operates in Staffordshire. Debra has volunteered for the group, based at the NORSACA Community Centre, Hanley, for almost a year. The group serves meals and provides clothes and toiletries to the homeless five nights a week. Debra, who also runs Off The Rails in Biddulph, said: “It isn’t just homelessness that is an issue. It’s also mental health and people living on the poverty line. All of these people have a different story to tell and sometimes just want someone to listen to them. You never know what a person has been through.”

Nichola Twemlow

Nichola believes in community, inclusive opportunities and creativity in education. She is the Community Manager of the YMCA North Staffordshire, which supports young people and families get access to services that will help them build a better future. This may include safe accommodation, skills-based training and giving young people a voice in the community. She is also the Chair of the Stoke Cultural Education Partnership, working with young people to demonstrate the value of arts and culture to the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

Nichola Twemlow by
Jerahl Hall

Nicola Burndred and Dawn Moss

Nicola and Dawn are dedicated to raising money for Cardiac Risk in the Young charity after both women lost their young sons to heart attacks. Dawn lost her 16-year-old son David Moss in 2012, he had been fishing at Moreton Fisheries and suffered sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. Nicola lost Jordan Burndred, aged 17, in 2015 following a heart attack in a swimming pool on holiday in Turkey. The mum’s, both from Biddulph, raise money for the Jordan Burndred and David Moss Memorial Funds, which go to CRY to fund heart screenings for young people and defibrillators in the local community.

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