On the Twelfth Day of Christmas... I Shared the People Who Inspired Me in 2016

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I've left the most difficult post of my Twelve Days of Christmas series to the very end. It wasn't difficult because I didn't know who to write about. It was difficult because I didn't know how I was going to keep it to just twelve people. Somehow I have done it and so I am pleased to introduce twelve people who have inspired me in 2016.

Helen Beecher Bryant
What can I say about Helen? Dear, wonderful Helen. The woman is a machine! She is currently a Leader at five units (one for each section in Chislehurst Village and a Rainbow unit in Petts Wood), Division Commissioner for Chislehurst Division, a Trainer and has numerous Region roles. She might even have more District, Division and County roles for all I know. Over the past few years she worked tirelessly as the Lead Volunteer on a special event for members of The Senior Section during their 100th year, which culminated in Use Your Voice, a two-day democracy festival in various venues across London including City Hall. She's also an amazing poet and whenever she is at an event there are requests for one of her sublime rhymes. It makes me feel tired just watching her. She's amazing!

Emily Coxhead
I first came across Emily late in 2015 when someone shared the link to her Kickstarter for The Happy Newspaper. Emily wanted to create a newspaper to celebrate all that's good in the world. She initially wanted to raise £500. After two days that target was reached and by the end of the 30-day campaign it had more than doubled! The first issue came out in December 2015 and then one followed every three months. When they arrive on our door mat, I make sure that I take the time to curl up with a drink and read it from cover to cover. Each issue contains good news stories from around the world, a double page spread of "Everyday Heroes" where readers can nominate someone to be included and articles relating to that issues theme. Even the overwhelming amount of celebrity deaths had a happy spin as readers were reminded of how they touched our lives. While the newspaper has guest writers, the majority of the stories are researched and written by Emily as well the overall design of the paper. It must take her so long and all this is on top of designing, greeting cards and stationery and writing a book that is due out next year.

Giovanna Fletcher
What can I say? It's no secret that I love her! As well as being a full-time mummy, she writes books, blogs and magazine articles, vlogs, presents segments on morning TV and performs in West End performances. She is also a passionate and eloquent advocate of important causes such as CoppaFeel!, a charity set up to make sure that women (and men) check their boobs regularly. She can laugh at herself and has the most infectious laugh ever. I can be having a really rubbish day then watch one of her vlogs and immediately feel better. As far as inspiration goes though, she has made me realise that I have a story to tell and I just need to keep writing until it's out there. 
Samantha Goddard
Sam is my dance teacher. She's a right laugh, encouraging and puts up with my unpointed toes, arms and legs going in the wrong direction and responding to her cheery "Practice makes..." with "PAIN!". That's not the reason she has inspired me this year though. South East Dance, where my Jazz and Yoga classes and Slimming World group (and many, many more) took place, closed at the beginning of last year despite a petition being created by Sam and some other dedicated members of the community. They didn't let that stop them though. In the summer it reopened as The Howard Venue and Sam is now one of the Trustees helping to keep it open. They knew it was something that our community wanted and needed and they didn't stop until they succeeded. If it wasn't for her and the other amazing people involved, I'd be sitting on my backside for two evenings a week watching TV and eating pizza! 

Sofie Hagen & Deborah Frances-White
Sofie and Deborah are comedians that started The Guilty Feminist podcast. When I heard about it I started listening to the episodes on my journey to and from work and they had me crying with laughter and shouting out in agreement as they discussed a different issue each episode relating to feminism and equality. What I love about them is that they aren't afraid to admit when they are wrong and acknowledge that they are still learning all the time. I've learnt a lot from them, but they have also encouraged me to go and find out things for myself too. I'm a bit behind on listening to episodes at the moment, but that just means I can have a good old binge on them just like I did when I first discovered them.


Kizzy Harvey
Kizzy is a Black Status Younique Presenter. I had the pleasure of seeing her at the UK 2nd Anniversary Event in London and from the moment she walked on stage she had my attention. She bravely spoke about the troubles she has faced in her past and what she hopes to achieve in the future. Her story and her passion for what she does did more for my enthusiasm than any of the other speakers that day, and maybe even since then. If she ever decides that a career in beauty is not for her then she should become a comedian because she is naturally hilarious. She owned the whole stage!

Catherine Mayer, Sandi Toksvig & Sophie Walker
In March 2015 Catherine and Sandi founded the Women's Equality Party. It opened for membership at the beginning of July that year and just a few weeks later Sophie was chosen as leader. Together they have achieved so much in the first 18 months of the party's life and when I attended the Women's Equality Party Conference in November each of them moved me to tears with their honest and heartfelt words. And they inspired me so much so that when Sandi challenged us to do something that weekend that we'd never done before, I promptly decided to take part in the Open Mic Night in front of 1,500 people. 

Claire Mitchell
I have no idea how I found out about Claire and The Girls Mean Business. I think it just popped up on my news feed one day and I was drawn in by the pretty pictures and positive words. Oh and there was a planner. That's right. Haha. Claire is an Online Business Expert and has given me so much confidence to take my business forward in 2017. She and her sister run all of the Facebook support group between them and in the run up to Christmas they managed to parcel up and send out hundreds and hundreds of planners. This year I am going to take every opportunity to learn from her, but her vibrant personality and enthusiastic approach has already inspired me so much.

Louise Peatland
I watched a lot of YouTube at the beginning of this year. I found it therapeutic. It was during this time that a friend recommended Louise to me. Louise's personality is so vibrant that I couldn't help but smile as I watched one of her videos, then another, and another. I love how she shows how rewarding being a single mum can be, while still admitting that it is by no means easy. She has become an awesome businesswoman so that she can spend more time with her daughter and she makes you feel that anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it. Her drunken vlogs also have me in stitches. Thank God I don't vlog!

I would love to know who inspires you. Let me know in the comments below.
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