Success Stories

Since our inception in 2005 Women Making a Difference have trained over 700 women across Wales, empowering them with the skills, ability and confidence to succeed.

We believe it is important to share some of the success stories to encourage other women to achieve their potential. On these pages you will find a series of real women's stories on how they overcame their barriers and achieved the goals that they set for themselves.

All of these women have taken part in the Women Making a Difference training programme.

Gill Dentus

Gill from Pontypridd has always reached for the top in her personal and professional life. As a youngster she was an accomplished competitive swimmer who represented Wales at national and international level. She put her swimming skills to good use becoming a teacher and qualified lifeguard, then moved on to be a proficient lifeguard examiner. She also had an interest in business and when she secured a position in the Automobile Association she traveled extensively around England to meet the demands of the work and seek promotion. Following a move to Halifax Bank Gill returned to Wales and settled in Cardiff where she decided to gain some formal business qualifications at post graduate level. This led to work as Business development manager and advisor in academic settings.

When Gill’s mother became ill she took a career break to care for her. On returning to the employment market it was much tougher for Gill to find a job but she was determined not to give up and explored a number of avenues looking for new opportunities. She recognised that networking can open all sorts of new doors. It was at a WEN networking event at the Senedd that Gill first heard about courses run by Women Making a Difference.

Fran Smith

Women Making a Difference inspired Fran, from Penarth, to become an active board member putting her passion for education and holistic principles to excellent use.

In her early life, Fran struggled with boarding school and found the traditional classroom environment challenging. As an adult, she now realises her typically dyslexic tendencies were never formally diagnosed. Then, at age 11, Fran’s childhood became even more difficult following the tragic loss of her mother. She fought to deal with the grief and emotional distress of her loss without much support.

It wasn’t until adulthood that Fran could process the grief. While studying beauty therapy at London’s Steiner College, Fran became interested in complementary therapies as a way of healing body and mind. Fran wanted to share this knowledge and harness the empathy she felt for others to help them overcome stress and regain their health and vitality. So she studied many alternative treatments including aromatherapy, reflexology, kinesiology and counselling skills before setting up her own successful business.  Starting a family made Fran reassess her priorities and she scaled back her business to work from home and spend more time with her children.

Eleri Williams

Eleri has lived in Swansea her whole life with her close knit family. She is an academic high flyer with a first class honours degree in History and Politics and a Masters in Development & Human Rights for which she gained top grades.

Life took an unexpected turn and became more challenging when Eleri’s father suffered a stroke when she was midway through drafting her Masters’ thesis. She had to cope with massive changes in her circumstances as she literally became a carer overnight - responsible for cooking, cleaning, helping to get her father to and from hospital appointments. It was a shock to Eleri’s system and she struggled to come to terms with the weight of this new responsibility.

Annette Monks

Annette is another superb inspiration that has gone on to achieve great success after attending our Engendering Change training programme.  Despite being severely dyslexic, Annette has learnt to overcome this through her endless determination and perseverance and has gone on to achieve things not only for herself and her own ambition, but for others too.

“My biggest barrier was my dyslexia.  I couldn’t write ‘the cat sat on the mat’ without looking in a dictionary.  It was a new student at the adult literacy class who asked if I was dyslexic and gave me a book about people who have been successful despite being dyslexic.   No one in the literacy class could give me advice on dyslexia so I left.

Dawn Manney

Dawn 1Originally born in Cardiff, Dr Dawn Mannay was brought up in a Welsh 'Valley's town' and left school with just a few GCSE's. By the age of 21 she was a mother of two and living on a marginalised housing estate in relative poverty. She is a true success story of determination that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Today Dawn is a university lecturer with First Class Honours BA, a Masters and PhD in Social Sciences.

"I didn't have many qualifications when I left school. When my son started nursery they had courses on site which you could take part in whilst your children were being cared for. I did a few courses, including a counselling course. To study the second part I had to go to the Centre for Lifelong Learning in Cardiff University, which I didn't even know existed. I didn't stop there, and managed to get 60 credits, which was the equivalent to a Foundation Certificate—enough to qualify for University.

Jenny Anne Bishop

JennyAnnBefore WMAD, Jenny was already an active member within public life, having founded the organisation TransForum, who have presented over 100 Trans Awareness and Trans Equality courses to over 40 organisations. It was her confidence that was slightly lacking and the need to be more informed about different issues within women's affairs.

She describes herself as a 'still active older woman' caring and assertive , and community focused whose faith is very important to her, but the Roman Catholic Church were not happy with her being a transgender woman. However, she is now a lay church leader with the Metropolitan Community Church, in Manchester.

She is very active in many public roles; joint founder of TransForum Manchester, a member of the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity, Westminster, a trainer for the Welsh Government Dept. of Health and the NHS; with the British Transport Police Wales and West Independent Advisory Group, sits on the Welsh Government Hate Crime Task and Finish Programme as well as other roles supporting the community."

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