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Six lockdown heroines to celebrate IWD

It’s been a bit of a year so to mark International Women’s Day 2021, we thought we’d big up six women who have impressed, delighted and inspired us over the past 12 months.

Lucy Wyndham-Read

While the nation’s school children bounced around to Joe Wicks during the first lockdown, the country’s mothers and working women were tuning into something altogether more speedy and high-impact in a bid to cram in exercise between school zooms and work calls. Seasoned PT Lucy Wyndham-Read’s seven-minute classes have reached parts of the populace other trainers haven’t reached (she has classes for pregnant women and people in wheelchairs) and in August 2020, she became the UK’s most watched fitness YouTuber with 58million views, surpassing Mr Wicks himself.

Ravinder Bhogal

Ravinder Bhogal

The hospitality industry has, undoubtedly, been the most obvious commercial victim of the plague that currently stalks all our houses. Restaurants and bars will be the last high street occupants to open and it’s still in the balance how many of these will actually survive until the final strata of lockdown lifts. Chefs have had to think quickly and flexibly and Ravinder Bhogal, of Marylebone’s highly rated Jikoni, has done just that. Not only did she partner up with NHS Wellness Box Initiative in the first wave of the pandemic, working solo from her kitchen to deliver meals to frontline staff, she has since developed a home dining experience Comfort & Joy that will soon be delivering vegetarian and vegan meals nationwide. 

Helen Glover


Three children under the age three, but that’s not going to stop Helen Glover going for gold. The double Olympic champion has announced she is attempting a comeback at this summer’s Tokyo games. She’ll be the first woman to make a Team GB rowing team after children. Since winning gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016 in the coxless pairs, Helen has had Logan, two, and one year old twins Bo and Kit. While our lockdown projects involved DIY and sour dough starters, this superwoman was plotting to become the first mother to make a British rowing team for the Tokyo Games. We’ll be cheering you all the way, Helen.

Ruth May

Ruth May

You may not know her name, or indeed her face, but Ruth May, chief nursing officer for NHS England has been leading the Covid-19 response for nurses, midwives and care professionals across the country since the pandemic began. And such is her passion and experience (and her steadfast unwillingness to publicly back Dominic Cummings on Barnard Castle-gate) that when she called for more people to come and join the NHS, she was rewarded with record numbers: more than 60,000 people have applied to study nursing this year – a stellar rise of 32%. Bravo.

Tracey Crouch MP

If a global pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with, some people have also been having to contend with serious illness. Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford in Kent, can count herself within that number having been diagnosed with breast cancer in June last year. In February 2021, she announced on Twitter that she’d finished a gruelling programme of chemo and radiotherapy and now is committed to using her platform to raise awareness of breast cancer and the benefits of early diagnosis. While still working as an MP. And raising her four-year-old son. Hats off.

Professor Sarah Gilbert

Professor Sarah Gilbert

If someone asked you what your greatest achievement was during the pandemic, chances are you might mumble something about banana bread and not committing infanticide. Ask Professor Sarah Gilbert the same question and she’d have quite the answer. The Oxford University professor and vaccine expert has led the team that created the Oxford Astra Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine in record quick time, which, as the latest research shows, cuts two thirds of transmission with just one dose. She’s literally saved the world while we were all fiddling around with rotten bananas. EPIC.

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