International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked our customers across our social platforms to nominate a friend who is a real life Wonder Woman. We wanted to share the stories of the women that inspire them everyday. Read on to find out how these three extraordinary women deserve to be celebrated on International Women’s Day.

Maria Hanson MBE, Derby

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a 63 year old disabled woman, who after multiple rounds of major surgery, some of this to keep me alive, set up my own charity, ‘me&dee’. I raised both of my daughters mainly as a single mother. They are both high achievers with beautiful families and homes. I have known what it is like to be at death’s door, homeless and in the pits of despair. I have used that adversity as a tool to set up my charity and to be a successful woman in helping hundreds of families (more than two thousand to date) to have a memory making experience when their time is short and precious. I live in a sheltered housing bungalow with my partner Mark.

Why do you think your friends nominated you for this interview?
We have a very small team of helpers who volunteer for my charity. They are called ‘me&dee’ angels and we have a very close relationship. They get to see first hand the amount of work that goes into the charity and our precious families. They see the huge amounts of hours that takes to do so, around my own disabilities and many hospital appointments.

What’s been your proudest moment to date? This can be personal/ professional.
On a personal level, my daughters and my grandchildren. Professionally, keeping my charity going in its 11th year, being awarded the MBE by Prince Charles and winning Pride of Britain fundraiser.

If you could give your 16 yr old self one piece of advice what would it be?
Live life and make memories, not worrying so much about what other people think.

To learn more about Maria’s charity, me&dee or if you’d like to donate click here.


Clare Molyneux, Hampshire

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m the head teacher of Ropley Primary School and passionate about primary education and giving our young people the environment in which to flourish and become the best that they can be. I’ve always enjoyed photography with children and love nothing more than getting out and about with my own camera.

Then there’s the ‘running’ me … I’ve always engaged in sport with children and have recently moved into taking up running for myself BIG time. In the last 3 years I have experienced running all distances from 5k fun runs, to 10k trail and road, half marathons, a run up and down Snowdon, full marathons and ultra marathons including the massive challenge of the double marathon, ‘Race to the King’, along the South Downs Way. Trail running is my passion and whenever possible I leave the treadmill and head for the outdoors and the hills.

I take a holistic approach to running and my philosophy is to LOVE it: That works equally with my school tribe of under 11 runners and the adult running group and courses that I run from New Energy Fitness gym. For me it’s learning to ENJOY running which is the key!

Why do you think your friends nominated you for this interview?
They appreciate the streak of madness although don’t always understand why I take on such mad challenges! The state of my toe nails and general creakiness of limbs offers good bantering opportunities after a long run. The children just see it as normal!

What’s been your proudest moment to date? This can be personal/ professional.
Proudest moment to date was crossing the finishing line at Winchester cathedral at the end of the double marathon last June. HOW I ran 54 miles I’ll never know but even managed a sprint for the last 100m!

If you could give your 16 yr old self one piece of advice what would it be?
Do what makes you smile as much as you can and as often as you can.

To learn more about Clare’s New Energy Runners click here.


Janet Jackson, Glasgow

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Janet Jackson, I am 35 years old and happily married for 14 years. I’m a mum to Noah age 13 who had Asperger’s syndrome, Seth age 8 who has autism and 23 month old triplets: Abel, Silas and Grace. Silas and Grace are both in the process of having autism assessments, I’m also stepmum to Billy Joe, Sean and Cameron and have 5 beautiful grandchildren. I am a full time carer and mum.

Why do you think your friends nominated you for this interview?

I’m not sure why I was nominated at all, I’m just a mum doing what mum’s do best- getting on with the job. I admit like every other mum I have my hands full, every minute of every day is accounted for. We don’t rely on anyone else to look after our children; my husband and myself do it all. We make sure our son Seth has play dates with children that also have autism as socialising is something children with autism struggle with.

Our eldest son Noah also keeps us on our toes. Despite the Aspergers, we refuse to allow this to dominate his life. We push for him to be all he can be and more. I’m proud to say at age 13 he is a 1 star army cadet, plays for S.A.B.C Rangers youth football and is top scorer of his year at his school, St Andrews RC. As well as completing 2 courses at Glasgow Kelvin College in his very little spare time.

So I think my friend nominated me because on paper I sound pretty awesome but really I’m just a mum and I try to help as many people as I can. Whether it’s a friendly ear or helping another family with advice on kids with additional support.

What’s been your proudest moment to date? This can be personal/ professional.

There isn’t one. My children make me proud every single day, whether it’s trying something new to eat or having the courage to speak to another child. Everything they do is a proud moment for me. I’m proud when I can successfully help other mums who have children that need additional support too. I will not stop helping until the kids get the support they need and I’m proud to say that I will never stop helping them.

If you could give your 16 yr old self one piece of advice what would it be?

Go with your gut and don’t ever give up. Fight for everything you believe in because if you believe in it, it’s worth fighting for.


Thank you to Maria, Clare and Janet for sharing their stories with us!

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