Charities play a vital role in the fabric of our society, raising much needed funds for necessary research as well as providing an information and support resource for those who need it.
The valuable role of the support services team within a charity cannot be emphasised enough, offering as they do not only practical guidance, but also emotional support at what is often an upsetting time and my next Fabulous Female, Hannah Dwyer from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is one such person.
Hannah is herself a mother of a teenager and as well as working on the busy national helpline at Jo’s she is responsible for facilitating its unique and confidential Ask the Expert service, which enables people to put their questions on any aspect of cervical cancer to its panel of experts.
There is no doubt that the motivation for supporting the charities we do is driven by a personal belief or experience and Jo’s Trust has a deep personal resonance with me.
It was their site that I turned to in the immediate aftermath of my cancer diagnosis for information; their forum of women that I plugged in to when I needed a sounding board for my anxieties and fears and that ultimately helped to give me the emotional support and reassurance I so desperately needed.
It goes without saying that it is not until you are actually in need of these services that you fully appreciate how important they are and with this in mind I am delighted to shine the spotlight on Hannah. Here is what she has to say.
- Who is or was your role model?
My mother is my role model, she is the strongest, most independent, supportive and caring person I know. She has taught me to be the women I am today.
- What motivates you?
I’m fully motivated by my work at Jo’s, providing information and support to our services users when they need it. Being part of something that can make positive changes and outcomes for women’s health in the future, is incredible and it motivates me to do all that I can within in my role and across the charity.
- What are the values you hold dearest in life?
Kindness, loyalty and happiness are the values I hold dearest.
- What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge so far is being a single parent. I didn’t set out to be one, however it happened and I had to work with the ups and downs and make the situation the best that I could for my daughter and I. I wouldn’t say I have overcome it yet, I feel there is still quite the journey ahead of us, but I’m looking forward to it.
- What is your proudest moment?
Being a mum offers lots of moments of pride, where tears leak from your eyes because your child has done something wonderful, so it’s really hard to pick one. I’m proud of my daughter every day for doing so well at school and her dancing, and for being as strong and spirited as she is.
- What motto do you live by?
- What advice would you give to your teenage self?
I would tell my teenage self, to make the most of her school days, they really are the best days of your life.
- Who gave you the best advice and what was it?
Whilst I’m good at giving advice, I’m not great at following my own, so I’m lucky enough to have an abundance of amazing advice from friends and family all the time!! But I would have to say one piece that has really stuck with me, was from one of the most fabulous females – my Nan. She said “Don’t spend your time worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, because it might not. You don’t want to get to my age, and regret all the worrying like I have”.
- How would your friends describe you?
I would like them to say that they think I am a funny, and kind person, who is a total hippy at heart. They would probably say I’m always there for them, I seem to get lots of calls in the middle of the night, asking for advice!
- What makes you laugh out loud?
What makes me laugh out loud is when my parents and my sisters and I all get together, there is never a dull moment. We all have the same sense of humour, and spend most of our time together making fun of one another, it’s just so funny. For example the time my step-dad thought he was at a chiropodist appointment, and only when the lady asked him what colour polish he would like he realised he was actually having a pedicure!!
- What would your autobiography be called?
There have been ups, downs and the bits in between, but I’m a positive person so am always looking to see what is just over the Horizon.
- What does being a modern woman mean to you?
To me being a modern woman means having the strength and independence to earn a living, provide for my family, and run a household without relying on someone else. It means pushing boundaries and standing up for what I believe in, often facing adversity with resilience and passion.
- What would be your desert island essential?
Music. I couldn’t live without music; it can uplift my mood, allows me to reminisce about wonderfulmemories, and helps me to escape.
- What makes you feel fabulous?
What makes me feel fabulous is helping people, whether that be through my work at Jo’s or helping my friends and family, it’s what makes me feel amazing. Ooh and eating lots of Italian food of course!
- In your own words – “A fabulous female is…..
Someone who knows what she wants, and works hard to get it. Someone who manages the challenges in life with a smile, and who has a good heart. But above all a fabulous female is someone who never, ever gives up.
This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week (11-17 June). Throughout the week, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is making lots of noise and promoting the message that every eligible woman and person with a cervix should have the opportunity to attend cervical screening (smear tests). There are lots of psychological, emotional, cultural and practical barriers which make attending difficult for some people and they are addressing them during the week. To find out more visit jostrust.org.uk/csaw
If you have any questions or concerns about cervical cancer and prevention give Jo’s Trust Helpline a call on 0808 802 8000.