Gutsy Women

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The gutsy women who’ve fought to change our world. Women who’ve turned themselves from “ordinary” into absolutely extraordinary, and to whom we all owe a profound debt.

One of Anne’s favourite subjects – mums who’ve influenced our whole society, the way we think, and the way we bring up our children and live our lives -including , of course, Anne herself.

Anne tells of the most remarkable women she’s met in her long journalistic and broadcasting career – people like Shirley Nolan, whose desperate fight to save the life of her son, Anthony, eventually resulted in the formation of the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register. Anne met Shirley many times, and found her story always inspirational. Even though Shirley didn’t manage to find a donor match for her own son, her actions have saved many hundreds of lives since.
Anne also tells the story of Diana Lamplugh, whose estate agent daughter Suzy disappeared in the 1980s after showing a man around a house in London. Diana turned her own tragedy into a force for change, founding a movement to help people avoid becoming victims of aggression, and to offer counselling and support to relatives and friends of missing people. Diana sadly died without ever knowing what happened to Suzy. She spent two decades fighting for changes in the law to protect victims of stalking and harassment, and was awarded an OBE in 1992.
Then there’s Rosemary Cox, whose son Peter died of a brain tumour in 1989. He had always said he would like to donate his organs to save someone else’s life but when the time came, Rosemary found that there was no way to register him as a potential donor. After a five year campaign, they founded the national organ donor register, now run by the NHS. Over 12 million people now carry the card, and it’s all thanks to Rosemary.

Our modern history is peppered with such stories – of ordinary people who turn tragedy into a challenge, end up changing the very way we live our lives, and save others’ lives too. Anne found such stories empowering when she faced her own tragedy, and ended up founding a campaign which its reckoned has saved hundreds of thousands of babies’ lives. Anne tells the story of losing her baby son, Sebastian, to cot death at a time when we in Britain were losing 2,500 babies every year to this mysterious phenomenon. Anne tells how she flew to New Zealand, where cot death was almost epidemic, but where doctors had perhaps found a solution. Anne then found her fame useful, as she came back to Britain to demand a life-saving campaign from a reluctant and complacent government. The Back To Sleep campaign which Anne led is still Britain’s most successful health campaign EVER

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