True heros don't have to wear capes, run marathons or have superhuman strength. For International Women's Day this year, I wanted to celebrate the incredible women who inspire others, not just for their seemingly superhuman abilities, but for their inner strength and courage. I asked 7 people to nominate their heros and give authentic and personal accounts as to why they are inspirational to them.
In this photo series, I have tried to capture the admiration, respect and love that was so apparent in their stories of strength, courage and dedication. You can view the photos and read their stories below.
Dr. Amy Legister
Nominated by father Carl Legister
Ever since Amy was young she always talked about becoming a doctor. I'm so proud that what she wanted to do with her life, she set her mind to it and achieved it. She is an intelligent, mentally strong and determined young lady. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 it has been troubling times for all, with changes on how we live, work and the pressures on the health services. I was worried for Amy working on a Covid-19 ward back in March 2019 and when she caught the virus, l was distraught. She's recovered now, but l still worry for her wellbeing.
She has coped amazingly well despite there being worrying moments of uncertainty that she has had to confide in me about. I am honoured that such a compassionate, hard working and strong person is my daughter.
Nominated by girlfriend Jordan Crowley
Rhiannon has the most amazing ability to go with the flow, never getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future. She’s always been this way and it’s just her natural state of being. As someone who has spent my life suffering from and trying to control my anxiety, I am in complete awe of her ability to say ‘fuck it’ in any situation. It makes me feel incredibly safe because I know we will always be ok. I know this because she knows we will.
She laughs at my hippy ways, recently I qualified as a yoga teacher but she is possibly the biggest yogi I know. According to the school of Patanjali, the definition of yoga is “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah”, which means “Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind”, essentially being entirely present and free of distracting thoughts, being truly mindful. This to me is the hardest part of yoga and something I don’t think I’ll ever achieve, but Rhiannon completely embodies it.
Nominated by friend Carol Jairam
Anita and I met in 1993 whilst training to be nurses. We discovered that we were both from Trinidad and Tobago, and our friendship grew from then to the present day. As a friend she is loyal, supportive, trustworthy, funny, honest and intuitive. These qualities have sustained the friendship over the years. As a nurse in the NHS, Anita has worked in a variety of care settings such as orthopaedic surgery, high dependent and promoted to manage a busy surgical ward in a London hospital. She also worked in the ICU as a sister. Her current post is as a site practitioner where she is working autonomously to support services and staff.
I nominate Anita because of her unfailing loyalty to the NHS, advancing nursing and using all skills to uphold the integrity required in healthcare. Her resolve in the face of many hostile obstacles in the NHS never wavered. She has executed her role with aplomb, professionalism, true grit and always a nurturing smile. A true friend and a worthy exemplar of a modern day nurse in the NHS.
Nominated by son Imari Samuels
Despite having me at the young age of 18, my mum has sacrificed and worked hard to give me the things I have needed and sometimes wanted. I’m incredibly thankful for her giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams and aspirations of being a professional footballer. Allowing me to express myself, my character and my opinions my mum has instilled in me the dedication, work ethic, confidence and resilience needed to succeed.
From driving all around the UK, and even as far as Italy for competitions, to coaching me to handle the disappointments of loosing, my mum has always put me first whilst still achieving her own goals. Just over a year ago I signed my first contract. I would not be in this position if it were not for my mum’s hard work and dedication. Without her I would not be living my dream of being a professional footballer at the age of 17.
Nominated by husband Laurence Pawling
I am very much inspired by my wife, Claire, she always puts her friends and family first - Claire's raison d'être is to care for and look after others, and will always place their interests and feelings before her own.
She has been through a number of losses in life, but has always come through fighting, positive, and determined to look to the future.
Nominated by grandaughter Michelle Liu
My Grandmother is the absolute representation of strength to me. She grew up in a war torn era, her dad shaved her head to make her look like a boy to avoid rape. Fast forward to her husband being killed by a bomb and widowed when she was in her early 20s with a baby girl. It’s crazy to think that this was during the 50’s in a very reserved China.
She went on to remarry and have 3 more girls but sadly she was widowed again due to her husband’s ill health. Through all of this she never gave up, she went through so much trauma and sadness yet she still had a phenomenal amount of love to give. She’s strong but with kindness of heart and demonstrated an unlimited amount of empathy towards others as well as forgiveness to those who have hurt her. Although she’s no longer with us, her legacy continues in my aunties, my mum and myself. I learn from all her qualities and she helps me to be a better person.
Nominated by mum Clare Stothart
At two years old my daughter Alice was diagnosed with cancer. As part of her treatment, she had to have her eye removed, chemotherapy, various other treatments, and tens of general anaesthetics, up until the age of six. In spite of the treatment and a long ongoing recovery process, Alice has always thrown herself into life with such energy and vibrancy. She has never let the difficulties and prejudices presented by having one eye stop her from achieving her goals and dreams.
Her determination, bravery, creativity, kindness and loyal heart means she is my daily inspiration and I am in awe of this beautiful young woman who I have the honour of calling my daughter.