Celebrating Harpenden Women
For two weeks in February, I hosted a poll in my Harpenden through the lens facebook group, asking residents to nominate and vote for the humble, inspirational, selfless women in our midst, women who touch our lives and give their all to our community, but who are seldom recognised for their wonderful contributions.
I asked my followers and friends to help me do this to mark Women’s History Month in March and I was blown away by the fantastic response – over 4,000 people viewed the post and nearly 300 joined in – thank you.
A dozen amazing women were nominated: Janet Crawley, Marie Orford, Louise Condon, Katie Fenner, Diana Burdett, Caroline Jones, Emma McGrath, Heather Schelhase, Emma Holly, Allison Turner, Katerina Filipova and Mary Maynard.
Janet Crawley, a part-time Lifestyle and Engagement Lead at St Matthews Care Home in Redbourn, received almost a quarter of the votes and I have offered to do a portrait series of her at work to recognise her wonderful contribution to our community.
I caught up with Janet to break the news and make plans for our shoot and she told me a little about her affinity with dementia patients. “I am really thrilled to have won the portrait session, not for myself, but because it will help to spread awareness of dementia.
“I became drawn to dementia about nine years ago when I was recovering from a life changing illness. The pull was so strong, I did an online degree through the Hopkins University in America. When I work with dementia patients, I feel an incredible rapport and connection with them. It is almost as if I can see them: their pain, their sadness and their loss. I know I can help them, and that I am meant to help them. I seem to be blessed with a knack of soothing them when they get agitated.
“I am rewarded daily with smiles, joy and laughter: even the late dementia patients who don’t communicate anymore, put their arms out to me when they recognise my voice. I love them all and the passion of caring for them brings meaning to my life.”
Close friend and CEO of Forget Me Not Musicians David Clement-Horton added: “Janet is the voluntary Funding Manager for charity organisation Forget Me Not Musicians. She finds unique ways to raise funds to help dementia patients unlock their memories through music, giving her valuable time and passion, and tapping into her network of people to assist us in a way no-one else could.
“I am so pleased Janet has been recognised in this way as I know she wouldn’t attribute any acknowledgement herself other than saying ‘I’m just being me.’ Well done Janet.”
Let’s toast these amazing women!
If you would like to help celebrate these lovely women, (and ourselves of course – because it’s Women’s History Month) I will be arranging a get-together in March to toast each of these 12 women and thank them for their significant efforts in making Harpenden such a special community. You will also be able to view Janet’s portrait. The event will be created on Facebook in the next couple of weeks.
Who knows, a little of these wonderful women’s inspirational ways may rub off on us!