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The 10th Annual Angela Mortimer International Women's Day Lunch


The challenge for all of us is not to fit in but to stand out. Failure and making mistakes are essential to learning. If you do the here and now the best you can, you will be amazed at the doors that open for you. Life is a series of blind summits – just take one at a time.

These opinions were expressed at the annual International Women’s Day Charity lunch hosted by Angela Mortimer on Friday 9th March. Catherine Spencer, former England Women’s Rugby captain; Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, author and child development specialist; Jo Elvin, editor of the Mail on Sunday’s YOU Magazine; and Dr Margaret Heffernan, renowned author of five business books and Ted Talk speaker addressed an audience of over 300 women in the ballroom of the Marriott Grosvenor Square to give advice and insight to aspiring women keen to lead a fulfilling life.

"The job for all of us is to dig deep into ourselves not to be what other people want us to be; not what guys want us to be; not what pleases other people; but to find in ourselves what is unique and strong and honest." That was the key revelation given by Dr Margaret Heffernan. The turning point in the success of her business came when she realised she didn’t want to belong to the past but wanted to belong to a future of women who didn’t lead just by being the toughest guy in the room and encouraged us all to stop trying to be something we are not.

Self-Esteem for Boys and Girls author, Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, defined a healthy, positive self-esteem as having a balanced understanding of your strengths and limitations and knowing who you are so that you can face the world without pretence. Elizabeth cautioned that a key vulnerability with girls is self-doubt which she likened to a sandcastle being undermined as the tide comes in gradually washing away the foundations. She gave helpful advice on how to build confidence and self-esteem in children encouraging them to have the determination to reach their dreams.

Jo Elvin certainly had the determination to reach her dream – which was to work in media in the UK and meet pop stars!! She wanted to combine her desire to work with pop stars and her love of writing by working on Dolly magazine, the Teen bible at the time. She phoned them regularly until they offered her work experience whilst studying at university. Jo shared the key belief that has helped propel her career forward is to be the best that you can be every day, to give your all in both the big and the small ways, and you will reap the rewards. She also believes that good things happen when you stop looking over your shoulder at what others are doing – focus on you and what you want to get out of each today.

These wise words were echoed by our former England Women’s Rugby Captain who didn’t even know there was an England Women’s Rugby team when she started playing rugby at 8 years old. Catherine Spencer believes that life is a series of blind summits which is how she progressed from playing club rugby to the national team. Catherine shared how she felt an imposter when she got through the trials to the summer training days with the England players – but believed that she could do it if she trained really hard. She highlighted a typical gender gap disparity in that the Women’s team are not paid to play rugby for England unlike the men, and that during her England rugby career she held down a full time job. She did it because she wanted to, as do the rest of the women on the team. They are true ambassadors of women’s sport – ordinary people, holding down ordinary jobs but doing something extraordinary for their country.

Summing up Angela Mortimer reflected that the speakers had truly demonstrated the essence of the celebration of International Women’s Day and had shown what can be achieved when we set our minds to it.

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