International Women’s Day: Reflecting on the women who inspired us over the last year

Vicky Lovelace-Collins, Jemma Marlow and Hannah Brown are just some of the incredible women we have

Vicky Lovelace-Collins, Jemma Marlow and Hannah Brown are just some of the incredible women we have featured in the last year. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

With another International Women’s Day in the books, the Comet has provided a round–up of some of the most inspiring and influential women we’ve spoken to over the last year.

Anne-Marie Morrison (L) and Margaret Berry (R) were both recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours

Anne-Marie Morrison (L) and Margaret Berry (R) were both recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Celebrated on March 8 every year, IWD is dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and is recognised in countries across the world.

This year, the Comet has highlighted some of the women who have been doing exceptional things in Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock.

In Stevenage, we remembered the much-loved paramedic Vicky Lovelace-Collins, who died after a collision with a car in 2018, and her family's fight for justice two years on.

Vicky's wife Naomi and mother Wendy told us how the driver of the car involved in the accident fled to Turkey, where she remains today.

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Recently, the CPS authorised a charge of death by careless driving and are currently going through process of extraditing the driver back to the United Kingdom.

A Stevenage-based author also wrote an inspiring story based on her son's unique medical condition.

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Gemma Keir's first book, The Abilities in Me, sold more than 500 copies internationally in its first week and is based on her son Logan's rare condition - DiGeorge syndrome.

We spoke with a senior spacecraft engineer at Stevenage's Airbus facility, who played a crucial part in the construction of Europe's first Mars rover.

Abbie Hutty told us about the exciting mission that the ExoMars rover she helped build will embark upon in 2021 - the quest to find evidence of life on the Red Planet.

We also covered a woman from Stevenage, who was previously suicidal, who made a lifelong vow to help others going through mental health crises.

Hayley Long sent 4,000 cards with inspirational messages on to people all over the UK for World Mental Health day and says she 'won't ever stop' trying to help others.

We also interviewed Hitchin's Maggie Berry and Anna Morrison - who were both named as part of the prestigious Queen's Birthday Honours list last June.

Maggie, the director for Europe at WEConnectInternational, was awarded an OBE for services to women in business and technology and Anna, of Amazing Apprenticeships, was granted a CBE for services to apprenticeships.

As we announced the news that Hitchin was to host its first ever Pride event this summer, we launched our new monthly LGBQT+ diary.

Katie Wilson, a transgender woman from North Herts, bravely shared her story of feeling 'trapped' in her own body and her experiences of crossdressing.

A Hitchin-based businesswoman was also part of a feature we wrote on a local business trying to change the world.

Rebecca Dudbridge, who makes up one half of @BambuuBrush, is aiming to raise £5,000 to build a solar-powered well in Ghana and visited the country this month to see first-hand what a transformative effect this will have on the community.

Wrapping up our Hitchin list is teenager Jemma Marlow, who is a pupil at Hitchin Girls' School while recovering from a rare bone cancer.

Jemma went sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Trust last summer and said she saw her confidence soar as a result of the 'brilliant' trip.

A Letchworth mother campaigned against an American pharmaceutical powerhouse to get her daughter the medication she desperately needs.

Clare Marvell started a fundraiser to get a year-long supply of the prescription drug Symdeko from US pharmaceutical company Vertex, as her daughter Emily battled against cystic fibrosis in August.

Thankfully, a deal was agreed between Vertex and the NHS to provide patients with full access to the drugs in October.

A Langford woman who was diagnosed with anorexia almost ten years ago discussed what needs to change to provide better treatment for eating disorders.

Hannah Brown, whose columns have featured prominently in the Comet in recent years, shared her thoughts on current mental health provisions, the need for more resources and her own experience with anorexia.

She runs An Ear to Hear, a mental health peer support website offering one-to-one guidance for eating disorder recovery, depression and anxiety for our community.

Last, but certainly not least, we featured a Baldock businesswoman who reserved special praise for her son for making her who she is today.

Samantha Holland's life has been a rollercoaster to say the least, but today she runs a successful sports injury clinic, Sports Therapy 4 U.

As a single mother, she said her son Lewis drove her to be a positive role model and never look back at difficult years of her past.

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