Laura Parker introduces some of the events that celebrate pioneering women
More people have climbed Everest, and gone into space, than have succeeded in the challenge taken on by four women from Yorkshire. Janette, Frances, Helen and Niki rowed across 3,000 miles of the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and broke a world record: the oldest women to row any ocean. The story of how four mums in their 40s and 50s, with children, businesses to run and mortgages to pay, stepped out of their daily lives and faced fierce storms and huge waves, much of it naked, is told in their book Four Mums in a Boat. As they say, they went on this wild, terrifying and beautiful adventure, not to escape life, but for life not to escape them. We are delighted to welcome two of the Yorkshire Rows Crew to Chipping Norton, one of the further points in the UK from the sea, on Sunday 29 April at 15:00.
They will be talking to TV presenter and anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota, herself no stranger to adventures on the high seas. Her most recent BBC series Britain Afloat, found her taking to the water in coracles and sailing boats, to show how boats have shaped our lives in Britain. She has explored human behaviour around the world and her next TV series will be about the culture of Tibet.
Few writers do as much to encourage girls to take up adventure than Abi Elphinstone. Her books, the Dreamsnatcher trilogy, Winter Magic, and Sky Song (review by our junior reporter here) contain the most thrilling adventures, much of it inspired by her childhood in Scotland where her weekends were spent “building dens in the woods, jumping into icy rivers, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens.”
Sky Song was inspired by Abi’s trip to the Arctic Circle, where she camped with Sami reindeer herders, watched orca whales dive and sledded with dogs. And that was just after her trip to Mongolia to learn how to hunt with a golden eagle! Climber, swimmer, explorer – Abi will be talking about all her The Adventures Behind the Books at the ACE Centre in Chipping Norton on Saturday 28 April at 15:00. For adventurers aged 8+.
If you have tales of travel and nature and you’d like to know how to write about them, join author and travel writer Isabella Tree for our Sunday afternoon writers’ workshop (29 April at 15:00, Parish Rooms) Isabella has written books about Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Nepal. Her Islands in the Clouds: Travels in the Highlands of New Guinea was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and she was overall winner of the Travelex Travel Writers’ Awards for her Sunday Times feature on Nepal's Kumaris, or Living Goddesses. Her latest work, Wilding, is about the remarkable rewilding of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex.
All women owe a debt of gratitude to those who started opening doors to gain women the vote 100 years ago. There are few greater experts on the suffragettes than Diane Atkinson. Her Rise Up Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes is the subject of our discussion on Saturday 28 April at 12:00, Town Hall. Diane has written a further two illustrated books, three biographies, and curated a major exhibition on the suffragettes. A regular on radio and TV, she was a consultant on the recent film Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter.