Reverend Richard Coles - Pop Star Turned Curate
The Reverend Richard Coles is a broadcaster, writer and Church of England priest. Now known for appearances on everything from 'Have I Got News For You' to 'Strictly Come Dancing', he first found fame as one half of the 1980s band, The Communards. They enjoyed three UK Top 10 hits, including the biggest-selling single of 1986, 'Don't Leave Me This Way'.
The multi-talented Richard turned has his hand to acting, penned music for film and TV, served up advice as ‘agony uncle’ on BBC London and won a Sony Gold as presenter of The Mix on Radio 5 live.
With a successful media career already established, Richard trained for a priesthood in the Church of England, becoming what could only be described as a ‘very modern’ vicar. He was Curate at St Boltoph’s in Lincolnshire before moving to St Paul's Knightsbridge and becoming Chaplain to the Royal Academy of Music. His career in the church inspired the hit BBC2 comedy Rev. (he also advised the makers of the series on clerical matters.) He recounted his journey from ‘pop star to parson’ in his honest, amusing and best-selling memoir Fathomless Riches.
As well as his parish duties, Richard continues to work in broadcasting, as an opera reviewer and frequent contributor to news, comedy and entertainment programmes. He has featured as a panellist on 'Have I Got News For You' a number of times, co-presents Radio 4’s 'Saturday Live' and BBC One’s 'The Big Painting Challenge'. He has competed in 'MasterChef', won 'Celebrity Mastermind', and has the distinction of performing “the worst paso-doble in the history of Strictly Come Dancing”. He also makes time for the odd 'Songs of Praise' special, appearances on 'QI', 'This Week', 'Would I Lie To You?' and Chris Evans’ Radio 2 show.
Jan Meek, FRGS - Polar Maiden
Don’t ask ‘Why?’, ask ‘Why not?’
Jan illustrates with her own experiences how ‘Why not’ has created an incredible life of adventure, both in work and leisure. Stepping out of her comfort zone to go that extra mile has ensured that her life reads like the plot of a novel, one she is too busy living to write.
Jan Meek is the only woman on the planet to have rowed an ocean and walked to a pole... More people have walked on the moon...
An entrepreneur with a fascinating background, Jan has achieved enough to fill two lifetimes. She worked as a continuity girl, then assistant to the producer on films alongside Roger Moore, Ian McShane, Sammy Davis Jnr and Jerry Lewis, and on some iconic British television programs such as Randall & Hopkirk, Department S and The Champions. After leaving the film industry worked for the USGS (United States Geological Survey) in Saudi Arabia, has owned and run several businesses, been a Wedding Organiser and Events Manager, is currently an Inspirational Speaker. She was a non-executive director on the Heart of England Training and Enterprise Council, first female Chairman of the Chipping Norton Chamber of Commerce and a former Mayor of Chipping Norton, in the Cotswolds.
In 1994, after the death of her husband, took a late gap year travelling around the world. En route taking a 'Mandarin Chinese' course in Taiwan, before travelling and cycling alone around China (to practice her Chinese), then on to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Los Angeles and home, to begin a new life of adventure.
In 1997 rowed 3500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, unsupported, in a 23-foot wooden rowing boat in 101 days with her son Dan, setting two Guinness World Records; In 2007 earned another 2 records racing 400 miles across the frozen ocean to reach the Magnetic North Pole, returned to the Arctic less than a year later to join the explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams on a trek to the Geographic North Pole, truly the top of the world.
Jan is now organising an all-women expedition taking five women to the South Pole. The Antarctic differs from the Arctic because it is a land mass and is at altitude, 9000 ft, so training has included treks to Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest Basecamp to gain altitude experience. Jan was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2005.
#techmums was established in 2012 by technology evangelist Dr. Sue Black after delivering 'Tech Taster Sessions' to families in schools. #techmums is a social enterprise working to empower women and their families, through technology. #techmums delivers digital skills clubs, 'train the trainer' programmes and in 2018 launched #techmumsTV in partnership with Facebook.
#techmums upskills women to feel confident digitally, to keep themselves and their families safe online, supporting mums to secure employment and start their own businesses. #techmums works with mums to realise and reach their true potential.
Millions of UK mums are excluded from a range of opportunities due to a lack of basic digital skills and confidence, limiting options for education, employment, and entrepreneurship. This restricts opportunities and aspirations for their families. 2.6 million mums are not in regular paid employment, 7 out of 10 cannot secure and sustain flexible employment, 55% of women return the workforce in a more junior position.
Women are under-represented in the tech workforce – remaining at just 17%. 60% of primary-school-aged children will go into jobs that do not yet exist; therefore, parents being digitally confident and positive about digital opportunities is key to the future workforces' aspirations and the likelihood of success.
To address these issues, #techmums delivers 10-week Digital Skills Clubs supporting women nationally to gain basic digital skills, such as email and office in the cloud, right through to an introduction to web/app design and coding. #techmumsTV a weekly 1-hour chat show all about young mothers and technology, live-streamed from Facebook HQ. Most of all, #techmums is creating of a huge, positive, powerful community that listens to mothers and what they have to say.