TOAST Magazine

An Inspiring Woman

STYLE & STORIES

This Mother's Day we are not only celebrating mothers, but the inspiring women in our lives, too. Those who have quietly guided us along the way, shown us how to live most fully or have simply been a brilliant friend. To take part in our Inspiring Women Prize Draw, please add your own comments below.

Chloë Ashby, TOAST Magazine Contributor. My friend Rose

I’ve always been in awe of my brilliant friend Rose, even though she’s never not running late and once thought The Police had crooned about a man called Rodney rather than a woman called Roxanne. She’s kind and caring and has a withering stare that makes you want to laugh out loud as well as take cover behind the nearest cushion. She’s the best and worst person to watch a film with, turning to face you, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, every time there’s even a hint of a twist. Last August she was diagnosed with a brain tumour – an inoperable grade 4 glioblastoma – and she’s undergoing treatment with her characteristic determination and good humour. I’m now more in awe of her than ever.

Madeleine, TOAST Team. My art teacher Amelia

Amelia’s easy, sophisticated ‘art teacher’ style was an inspiration to me from a young age. Her kind, patient and direct approach nurtured my creative process, and encouraged me to explore a number of artistic expressions. The Art Department became a sort of haven for me during the last few years of school; a place I could spend hours working away meditatively in my sketchbook and on my sewing machine. Amelia continued to support me throughout my university years – I discussed my projects with her, sought her advice and enjoyed listening to her talk about her own work. Today I visit Amelia for tea and cake when I can, and remain inspired by her love of textiles and the arts.

Mina Holland, TOAST Magazine Contributor. My friend and collaborator Elena Heatherwick 

This Mother's Day, I would like to celebrate my collaborator, the photographer Elena Heatherwick. Since we have worked together – first on food columns at The Guardian, latterly on TOAST Portraits – I have watched Elena forge often quite profound connections with those she is photographing, nimbly jumping between topics that run the gamut from pasta to parenting, hair colour to heartbreak. She touches people with her warmth, easing them into comfort with her, a stranger – an essential skill for a portrait photographer, perhaps, but Elena has no spiel to trot out to those she's tasked to shoot, only a real interest in the humans she meets. Last year, I became a mother myself, a role Elena had already been in for nine years. She has brought up her son, Lughan, as a single mum; now – one year in and with a glimpse of motherhood's spectrum of highs and lows – I am in even greater thrall of her, flitting as she does between school runs and photo shoots, all the while being a truly brilliant friend.

Claire Thomson, TOAST Magazine Contributor. My three daughters

This Mother’s Day, I’d like to toast my 3 daughters, Grace, Ivy and Dot. Each very different from one another, they all brim with an energy and a lust for life that is completely thrilling. I look at my daughters and honestly can’t think of what might hold them back in life – tenacious, sensitive, creative and kind as they are. I look forward to us growing older together and our adventures yet to come. I’ll be 50 years old when Dot turns 18, I plan for us all to meet on a beach somewhere warm and beautiful, with books and swimsuits, and there we’ll lie in the sand and laugh and swim.

Charlotte Harding, TOAST Magazine Contributor. The artist Georgia O’Keeffe

When I think of the woman I most admire, it is hands down my mum, but when I think of a woman who connects us both as mother and daughter, it is Georgia O’Keeffe. I never knew her personally, but there is something about her presence that nevertheless radiates within my life, steeped in both shared memories my mum and I hold and wrapped in dreams of a pilgrimage to O’Keeffe’s home of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. Enigmatic, elegant, radical, raw and real are words that shape how I see Georgia O’Keeffe. She broke with convention, forging a passage to a world of openness and freedom with fervent resolve. She was a new kind of women, and still feels so, over a century after her birth. She thought outside of the lines society had drawn for her, and for all of that, Georgia O’Keeffe is my constant inspiration.

Jo, TOAST Team. My friend Trish

Trish a truly awesome woman. I first met Trish at my local running club over 15 odd years ago where, within 10 minutes of meeting her, she had persuaded me to run a half marathon, even though we had only a few miles to our names at that point. Since then, her friendship has seen me through lots of life’s ups and downs, never allowing me to feel sorry for myself for too long when things are pants, but gently and firmly propping me up until I’m back on my feet. Through Trish I have broadened my horizons in ways I never even dreamed of. Sadly, Trish and I had a bit of a disagreement a few years back and our relationship isn’t quite as it was. Despite that, she is still very much part of my life and a constant inspiration.

Orlando Gough, TOAST Magazine Contributor. Two women: Joanna Osborne & Sally Muir

My wife Joanna Osborne and her partner Sally Muir have for forty years run a very successful knitwear business. Their style has evolved from picture jumpers – one of them, the black sheep jumper, was worn, with wonderful prescience, by Princess Diana in her early days as a royal – through complex abstract designs influenced by the Bauhaus, to sophisticated cashmeres. I’d like to celebrate the extraordinary harmoniousness and generosity of their working relationship – the mutual support, the accommodation of family lives and other interests, the ability to make decisions without fluster or rancour, the constant friendship. It looks effortless, but it can’t be. It seems to me a triumph.

Emily, TOAST Team. Helen

Helen lived at the end of our street. Whenever we went for a long country walk we’d pass her house. It was the last house before the road became a track and the countryside opened up into rolling hills and orchards. We’d often bump into her, striding forth in muddy wellington boots and a long velvet coat. Her clothes were always magnificent – unsuited to the terrain but worn with such ease that it never mattered. She was beautiful, with unruly reddish-brown hair, sparkling eyes and a wide, laughing smile. She was so full of life. A few years ago, Helen died of a brain tumour. It was incredibly swift. She was only 51. The memory of Helen walking through that familiar landscape will always stay with me – her zest for living, for experiencing the world, and for wearing whatever you darn well please.

Bea, TOAST Team. My friend Emma

The person I’m choosing to celebrate this Mother’s Day is a close friend of mine who spends her life making other people mothers. After a few years teaching English abroad, Emma made the brave decision to return to university at 24 to study midwifery. Whilst she was passionate at the beginning of her course, it has been hugely inspiring to see this passion grow and develop as she further educates herself. Newborn babies are lucky enough to enter the world into her enthusiastic and encouraging arms, where she treats them with the highest quality of care. It’s very difficult to break the mould, especially as a young adult, and she has done so in the best way possible.

Lindsay Sekulowicz, TOAST Magazine Contributor. My friends Gulen and Gulru.

Late one night, when all the men on the boat had gone to sleep, I heard a soft whistle from the stern. Gulen and Gulru were sitting in the darkness with their feet paddling in the black water, calling me over. The air was still hot from the day and as I joined them Gulen wrapped her tobacco pouch in a plastic bag and pushed it down the front of her swimming costume. Lowering themselves backwards into the water, they pushed off towards the dark shoreline. I jumped in after them, and as the ripples had subsided I saw the sea around me turning into the night sky. We swam as far as a group of rocks and pulled ourselves up for a night of stories. The burst of happiness that friendship brings is hard to describe except through stories. I love these women: courageous and engaged, they have raised their sons and looked after their friends with the lightest and most open of hearts. The world seems bigger and more generous with them.

Take part in our Inspiring Women Prize Draw for the chance to win one of five TOAST Wellness Baskets (worth £99). To enter, please write a few lines about an inspirational woman in your life, in the comment section below. Please enter by the 30th March. The five winners will be contacted directly. Read the full terms and conditions.

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