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Heather Bamforth has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to increase the number of opportunities for women in competitive cycling, and has done so as a volunteer in her spare time.
She joined the Cyclingshorts.cc writing team in 2012 where she actively promotes women’s cycling, and the inaugural North West women’s series in 2013, which featured groundbreaking grassroots road racing for women, was Heather’s brainchild.
In 2014, along with three others, Heather established The Racing Chance Foundation, a registered charity which provides women with a pathway in competitive cycling from novice to elite level.
Racing Chance has already coached over 200 women and inspired similar series across the UK that have resulted in British Cycling seeing an increase in female membership, with female racing licences increasing from 800 in 2012 to over 1,500 in 2015.
Heather spends an enormous amount of time helping to get women cycling by running training rides, with training sessions on closed circuits to help novices build confidence and skills before venturing onto the roads, along with events which are suitable for women who want to try road racing for the first time.
During the day Heather has a full time career, working in Restructuring Services for Mazars LLP, an international accountancy and business advisory firm.
In 2013, after 20 years in sports administration, Maureen McGonigle created Scottish Women in Sport (SWiS), the leading equity charity for women in sport in Scotland.
SWiS, a registered charity, was launched with fellow Scots tennis coach Judy Murray and Olympic rower Katherine Grainger in attendance.
A place on the Lloyds Bank Scottish School for Social Entrepreneurs’ programme provided Maureen with a £4,000 grant to create an online presence for SWiS and allow her to promote the charity and its wider aims.
With no core funding, Maureen sourced commercial finance to support the organisation, including:
- Two National conferences – supported by two FTSE100 companies, RBS and SSE
- A seminar – in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University
- Two Awards Dinner – sponsored by SSE with eight individual category sponsors
- Increased media coverage – national TV, newspaper and radio coverage and in addition a weekly two page weekly feature in The National newspaper as well as a weekly column, written by Maureen
- Imagery – a national photography competition in Scotland’s largest national newspaper to find the best images of women’s sport
- IWD social media campaign – #PledgeforParity….in sport – which trended on twitter
Maureen recently launched Women Active at Work campaign, which has the support of the Scottish Government, Awards for All, the NHS, RBS, SSE and Stirling University and aims to get women into regular physical activity.
Ebony Rainford-Brent is a former English cricketer who has gone on to become the Director of Women’s Cricket at Surrey CCC and a pundit for the BBC flagship radio programme, Test Match Special. The first black woman to play for the England team, Rainford-Brent also captained the Surrey Women’s team.
Since Ebony’s appointment as the Director of Women’s Cricket at Surrey CCC, she has worked tirelessly to increase the awareness and support for women and girls’ cricket. This includes her championing of the Lord’s Taverners and the Chance to Shine initiative which has given half a million young girls in state schools the chance to play cricket.
Ebony’s role as one of the first female pundits on the BBC’s Test Match Special programme has given her a platform to demonstrate her knowledge and enthusiasm – and most importantly be a trailblazer for other women who want to work in sport.
On being a commentator Ebony says: “Initially, it was daunting but now I don’t feel like a ‘female commentator’, I’m just a commentator. Still, you realise when you speak to young women who want to get into journalism and broadcasting, just how important it is to have women in these roles.”