A Story Of Determination & Encouragement
Here, Caroline tells her story of the woman who changed her life and inspired her to attend Cambridge.
I was brought up in Wales and went to school in Cardiff until I was 18. In 1985 I saw a BBC documentary about Queens’ College Cambridge and decided that would be my dream University experience. However, hardly anyone at my school went to Oxbridge and even the headmistress poured cold water on the idea as she was sure that I would be disappointed. I was determined to try and with the guidance and support of my French teacher, Madame Barton, I prepared my application.
One Person Can Change It All
Without Madame Barton, I would not have had the courage to apply to Cambridge. She believed in me and with good humour addressed all my fears. In 1987 was thrilled to be accepted at Queens’ College Cambridge to read Law. After three years there I went to Bar School in London and then was accepted in Chambers at 12 King’s Bench Walk in the Inner Temple. Without my Cambridge degree, this would not have happened. Whilst practising at the bar I met my husband who was also a barrister and we are still happily married 26 years on.
A series of family disasters in 1999 made me realise that family came first and so I hung up my wig and gown for good but in 2004 I was appointed as a magistrate so I am still involved in the legal profession.
A New Direction, And A New Business
In 2015 I started to run the events programme for The Really Helpful Club which is a free to join UK wide community of 15,000 people. Through our events, we empower and inform our members about what is on offer and how to have the confidence to achieve anything. For example, we have helped over 1,000 people to return to work or set up a business through our Back to Business conferences. When creating the events we work with our members, schools, corporates and charities to find out the issues that they are facing and we address them.
A Network Of Inspirational Women
I joined Wibn in 2018 to meet other female business owners and to look for people with whom to collaborate for our events programme. We have involved over 30 Wibn members in our events to date and have many more planned in the Summer. At the Really Helpful Club, we share, discover and connect.
Inspiring The Next Generation
I am often asked what advice I would give to younger women and I do this often as I mentor for the Prince’s Trust and Inspiring Girls International. My advice is to be flexible in your approach to your career as you never know what life has in store for you. When I was at Cambridge I naively assumed that I would always be a barrister but I have no regrets and I love my current role helping others, particularly women to find themselves again.