In celebration of International Women’s Day #IWD our Chairwomen, Louise Parker, has written a short blog for us all to receive, reflect and respond on this day as we continue celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Growing up in the Motor Trade with two brothers and a garage workshop as my playground, my mother always encouraged me to be independent, self-sufficient and told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Her words have resonated with me throughout my life, instilling in me a drive to achieve exactly what I wanted, and not be told ‘no’ because I was a girl. I knew I wanted to build engines, to travel to Australia, and be the first female Formula 1 racing driver. Little girls with dreams become women with vision, and that is exactly what I became.

Since then, my personal and professional accomplishments have soared beyond what I ever imagined. I can strip and build engines with confidence, I have raced cars (and even mopeds!), and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime to Australia in 2005. I am also an experienced Architect, a keen fundraiser, and kids cycling coach. I was a Gamesmaker at the London 2012 Olympics, been able to ride a Motorbike from just 12 years old (resulting in me commuting through London on a motorbike for 15 years), and I have explored, traveled and sailed the beautiful Med. I took on a new challenge homeschooling my son for 18 months, I felt the thrill of a bungee jump in New Zealand, and I’ve dined in the sky over the Tyne. I took up running in my 40’s and so far completed over 100 park runs (albeit slowly) and I know that I can be there to fix a plug, change a tyre, knock a wall down, or bake a cake. Through all of this, one of the most important things I do is smile!

I am everything I am known to be, and so much more. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a loving wife and a mother. I am a volunteer, a worker, and a boss. I love, I laugh, and I cry, I comfort and am comforted, and I celebrate passionately with my family, my friends and my colleagues. I believe that the most beautiful thing a woman can wear is confidence, and so I confidently say that I am skilled and talented, and I have accomplished. I have worked hard through my life to embrace all it has to offer me, helping others along the way and achieving everything I wanted to, for me and for those around me.

I know that I have even more to give, and so do you.

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama.