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Baroness Blood – An Inspirational Woman

October 24, 2017

With thanks to Orla Bance, Director of Alchemy Business UK Group and OB Business Solutions

As part of my business journey, I am lucky enough to meet some inspiring individuals who can give strength and grit that you need to keep going through tough times. Having a small business can be a tough and lonely journey that you constantly question. This week, I was privileged to meet a lady who I will never forget – Baroness May Blood who makes our struggles in business fade into insignificance.

A Lifetime Peer

Baroness Blood is a lifetime peer in the House of Lords and kindly arranged for the Women’s Irish Network (WIN), of which I am member, to attend a question and answer session in the fantastic setting of the House. I have been to the Houses of Parliament many times but have not met someone who is so passionate and proud to be a member of what she truly understands as changing people’s lives.

Baroness Blood began her career in the combative and unsettled environment of Shankill area of Belfast. She became involved in the trade unions of a local linen mill and pushed up through the ranks of the extraordinarily chauvinistic environment of the Unions. Her belief is based around seeing people as people and not merely defined by their religion or gender. Her beliefs back then are still apparent now as she talks about integrated education and equality for all with passion.

Who do you know?

Whatever one’s political or religious belief, it is undeniable that Baroness Blood stood shoulder to shoulder with people who have altered the path of history. Her tales of Mo Mowlam, the Queen, Tony Blair, Martin McGuinness and even the paramilitaries within the Maze Prison are all told with such ease and simplicity that you realise that you are in the presence of greatness, albeit a very humble greatness.

Achievements

The achievements of her lifetime so far at the sprightly age of 79 are immense and sobering. I found that in the media circus this week of the Henry Weinstein cases and the underlying gender inequality within many industries, her approach is so relevant. We are further along to equality than we were but we are definitely not there yet.

She disagrees with quotas within the board room as do I – I will be there on merit as a person not as a woman.

She pushes back to women to make a difference by voting and supporting each other, not merely moaning about the lack of influential women. She demonstrated this in 1996 as she was a founding member of the Women’s Coalition Party in Northern Ireland.

In one of her first major Trade Union meetings, Reverend Ian Paisley asked her to go to make the tea as she was the only woman there. May describes that he was almost disgusted that she didn’t trot off to make the tea as it was deemed her job. She stood firm and affected change from the consistency of her approach and her dogmatic belief in what was right.

The title of her autobiography sums this struggle up; “Watch my lips, I’m speaking”. This came about as she sat in many meetings with all men and when she spoke, they ignored her. One day, this became too much and she shouted “Watch my lips, I’m speaking”. I found this a great anecdote as a woman in a predominantly male industry – sometimes, you just have to make sure you are heard! Even if it requires banging a table and shouting from the rafters.

Baroness Blood, you are a true inspiration for all people especially women. Thanks for your time and your openness and thanks to the team at WIN for organising. It really felt like you took us on a voyage akin to the start of your time as a peer experiencing both sides of the House of Lords – the Temporal and the Spiritual. It felt like we started to understand your journey with the temporal anecdotes and finished with the spiritual inspirational memories.

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We can't wait to see all of the amazing #WINWomen at tonight's Irish Youth Foundation and Women's Irish Network Annual Reception at the Embassy of Ireland.
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This is a members only event and you must have RSVP'd directly to your Embassy invitation. And please remember there are no plus ones for this event. .
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🕰 6pm
🏦 Embassy of Ireland, 17 Grosvenor Pl, SW1X 7HR

We look forward to seeing many of your there this evening!
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📅 Monday 16th December | 7pm
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Don't miss this wonderful Christmas concert by our friends at Irish Heritage. 👉 Slide over to find out more and to book tickets visit irishheritage.co.uk
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  • It is with great sadness that we recently lost our friend and WIN member Norrie Buxton after a long struggle with ovarian cancer.
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Norrie was a great and loyal supporter of WIN and one of our first members, her cheerful demeanour and appreciation of our events over the past 20 years was a great boost to all of us. We will miss her dreadfully.

We send all our condolences to her friends and family at this time.
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Details of Norrie's funeral arrangements will be posted as soon as we know them.
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📅 Thursday 21 Nov | 6.30pm
📍 Regent Cinema, London W1

Our friends at the @irishfilmlondon have curated a very special female focused day as part of the Irish Film Festival London 2019
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This very special double bill will feature: ▪️Fireside chat with @roisinconaty1 and  Bridget Christie ▪️ Refreshments courtesy of @hunch.poitin ▪️Screening of their Best Feature Film Award winner 'A Bump Along the Way' made by a female cast and crew!
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🎟️Tickets available from @irishfilmlondon
  • ✨ Today is the day! ✨

We look forward to seeing you all later for our sold out event ‘A Collective View: Female Entrepreneurship’.
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We can’t wait to hear from our amazing panel of guests including Jayne Ronayne, CEO of Talivest, Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School Founder and one of Ireland’s leading STEM Entrepreneurs
Mary McKenna MBE.
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🕰 11 Nov | 6.00pm - 8.30pm‬
‪🛎 Killik & Co. London, W1‬
  • ✨ Join us next Monday, November 11 as best-selling author and Ballymaloe Cookery School Founder Darina Allen shares her view of female entrepreneurship.

Darina joins our other esteemed guests: Talivest CEO Jayne Ronayne and leading STEM entrepreneur Mary McKenna MBE, for what is sure to be an inspiring discussion.

Paid members of WIN and their guests are very welcome to an evening of business networking, inspiration, a Q&A, wine and canapés.
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(If you haven't spotted your members' email with the ticket link, please email and let us know: enquiries@womensirishnetwork.com) ✨
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