Celebrating Extraordinary Women

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From the ordinary to the extraordinary. We hear the inspiring stories of women who have taken on the challenges that life has thrown at them. After her divorce at a time of life many would be putting their feet up, Rona became a round the world yachtswoman; Jo and Della are bereaved parents turned campaigners; Fran overcame a paralysing accident at work to become World Paraclimbing Champion; Wendy and Kelly are ex-offenders turned mentors and Judy abandoned urban life to run a hill farm, hotel and whale watching company on a remote Scottish island.

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58 minutes

Last on

Mon 27 May 2013 10:00


Post divorce, a single parent in middle age….Rona Cant’s way of coping was to take on a series of extreme challenges. Since then she has sailed around the world (the wrong way), come into close and unwanted contact with a Canadian cougar, and made an 11-day ‘impossible’ Arctic trek on a dog sled.

Rona’s book is called Snow, Sleds and Silence: The Story of the Nordkapp Expedition and is published by Libri.

Jo and Della

Losing a child must be one of the most tragic events in any parent’s life. We meet two women who have been through that shattering experience. Jo Yirrell’s son, Harry, died of malaria 8 years ago after a trip to work as a volunteer in Ghana. She now works as a special ambassador for Malaria No More UK. Della Phillips’ daughter, Kelly, killed in a car accident when she was 17. Della now campaigns for Safe Drive Stay Alive Surrey and Drive iQ.


Child Bereavement UK

Cruse Bereavement Care


Fran Brown was a lighting engineer in London’s West End. Then she had a fall at work. She’s now an incomplete tetraplegic, Britain’s first paraclimbing world champion and a member of the British Paraorchestra.


At a first glance Judy Fairbairns would seem, for many, to have the perfect life. Falling head over heels in love with a wild adventurer at 19, whisked away to a remote Scottish island, where she raises a gaggle of five children and runs a farm and a hotel business.  However, Judy soon finds herself drowning in the daily tasks of being a mother, wife and hard-working professional. She joins Jane to tell her how when things fall apart, she goes about putting them back together.

Judy Fairbairns: Island Wife – Living on the Edge of the Wild is published by Two Roads Publications.

Wendy and Kelly

Wendy Rowley spent 4 years in prison for drugs offences; she now works for St Giles Trust trying to help resettle prisoners. Kelly Edmonds was jailed for 18 months and now has a job as an outreach worker at Refocus, a charity working with young people.


Role Contributor
PresenterJane Garvey
Interviewed GuestRona Cant
Interviewed GuestJo Yirrell
Interviewed GuestDella Phillips
Interviewed GuestFran Brown
Interviewed GuestJudy Fairbairns
Interviewed GuestWendy Rowley
Interviewed GuestKelly Edmonds
EditorJane Thurlow
ProducerRebecca Wood

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