On my next birthday I will be the same age my Mum was when she died.
She was the strongest influence in all our lives (I am the middle of three boys).
Drink killed her. But that’s a gross simplification. Lives are complex, and hers could have been so much different had she not been denied the opportunity to fly.
She was rated as Oxbridge material, was a county hockey player and had everything to look forward to.
Except this was the 1950s, and my grandad put his foot down. He wouldn’t allow her to finish her A levels, as in his mind, it was time she got out there and earned her keep.
That blinkered approach, commonplace at the time, meant, despite letters imploring him to change his mind being sent by her headteacher, she had to go to work, and eventually to teacher training college.
She devoted herself to the three of us, and did become a head of house at our comprehensive school.
When her marriage to my father turned toxic, and he left, she slipped slowly at first into relying on a drink after work. Then two, then eventually a whole bottle.
What might she have been? Who knows.
Moving into this generation, my two amazing nieces are 15 over the next few weeks.
They fill me with pride, joy and hope. Strong, funny, clever young women with so much to offer the world.
Whatever they choose to do, they’ll do it brilliantly.
So it was with real pride this week I accepted an invitation (see above) to be the guest speaker for The Business Sorority UK
A group run by the amazing Heather Gray and Jennifer Quinn to connect develop and champion exceptional young women in business.
I gave a talk about presentation skills, and for a bit of fun at the end everyone had to stand up and give a minute talk about a hobby or passion of theirs.
We had everything from bees to blogging. It was a superb evening.
What really struck me in that relaxed, convivial atmosphere was how by coming together and showing support and compassion for one another things really get done, and yes, people do fly.
I know my nieces will.
I just wish my Mum had enjoyed the same opportunities.