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My Role Models – Jo Stroud

Posted: by Jo Wednesday, 16 May 2018 @ 13:18
Amy Johnson

Diana Nyad

Louise Hay
JK Rowling
Beryl Matthews - Jo Stroud's mother
 Amy Johnson    Diana Nyad    Louise Hay    JK Rowling    Beryl Matthews (my mum)

To kick us off, I’m going to tell you about 5 women who truly inspire me, and the reasons why:

Amy Johnson: for sheer fearlessness

In 1930, Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia, and she set a string of long distance records over her flying career. I loved flying when I was young – and reading about Amy Johnson, she became a real hero to me. In a time when flying was hugely dangerous, Amy never let fear of the unknown stop her.

Diana Nyad: for absolute persistence

Diana became the first person to swim the 111 miles from Cuba to Florida, which took 53 hours through shark-infested waters. But what impresses me the most is that she succeeded when she was 64, on her fifth attempt. She first tried aged 30, and never gave up on her dream, making attempt after attempt. The very last one, at the age of 64, was successful, which she attributes to her mantra, ‘Find a way’. The inner resources Diana must have drawn upon are incredible. 

Louise Hay: for inspiring so many

Louise Hay had a challenging early life, marked by sexual abuse and violence; and later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than letting her life be dominated by these events, she developed a philosophy of self-healing and self-forgiveness, to overcome life’s difficulties. Her writings inspire millions of people, the world over. She is a great lesson in not allowing adversity to define you; and using your gifts to inspire others. 

JK Rowling: for never, ever, giving up

JK Rowling inspires me for the same reason as Diana Nyad: no matter how many times she failed, she just kept trying. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories were rejected by 12 publishers, before Bloomsbury took her on. Her early life was not easy - miscarriage, divorce, single-parenthood, depression, life on benefits – but again, she did not let that give her an excuse. She didn’t let adversity get in her way, or rejection demoralise her. 

Beryl Matthews (my mum): for never complaining

My mum is an absolute inspiration to me, and a great role model. Though poorly educated herself – leaving school at 15 – she fully recognised the importance of education, teaching my sister and me to read before we even started school. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she lost her eyesight and mobility, and has had a very tough 12 months. She has never once complained, or expressed bitterness, or asked, ‘why me?’ Her stoical attitude of facing whatever life throws at you, and just getting on with it, is a true inspiration, and she has become an even more powerful role model in my life. 


Personally, I find role models – particularly women – hugely inspiring. When I was younger, I definitely let fear of the unknown stop me trying things; I gave up too soon, when the going got tough; and I let adversity get me down and convince me I couldn’t do something. 

Bringing to mind any one of my role models reminds me that they did not let fear get in the way; they weren’t defeated when things went wrong; and they never gave up hope and positivity. 

Two of my favourite mantras sum up the attitudes of my role models: 

She who is brave is free’ and ‘When life pulls you back, aim forwards.’

Plume Feather Necklace   Sterling Silver Arrow Necklace

Come back later this month to read an interview with the first of our remarkable women, and find out who truly inspires them.



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