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  • Chrissy Hamlin

Sally Gunnell, Anita Roddick & Carrie Green - Abigail Barnes' Inspiring women

Top Time Management Coach & Business Entrepreneur, Abigail Barnes from Success by Design Training chose three contemporary #InspiringWomen to talk about when she was a special guest on our podcast show in November. Athlete, Sally Gunnell, Business Woman, Anita Roddick and Entrepreneur, Carrie Green were the three women who have inspired Abigail the most- and below we outline just why these women are all contemporary history makers, and are more than worthy of a place on our blog!


I was particularly pleased when Abigail said that she found Sally Gunnell's sporting achievement's really inspiring - as a fellow Essex woman, who was born jus a year before Sally, for me she was also the local girl made good, whom we all cheered on at the Olympics and World Athletic Championships. Sally was "one of us" and we were so proud to see a former pupil from West Hatch School in Chigwell be awarded an Olympic Gold Medal.

Sally Gunnell is a former British Track and Field Athlete from Chigwell, Essex, who won the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal in the 400m Hurdles. She is the only female British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles concurrently and is also the first female 400m hurdler in history to win both the Olympic and World titles and break the world record. Her world record time of 52.74 seconds, which she set in 1993, is still the current British Record.

Sally Gunnell began her Athletics career with the Essex Ladies Club as a Long Jumper & Heptathlete before changing to the Hurdles event. In 1986 Gunnell won the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in the 100m hurdles in Edinburgh. In 1987 she reached the 100m Hurdles Semi-Finals at the World Championships. She also reached the Semi-Finals of the 100m Hurdles at the 1988 Olympics - but then she decided to concentrate on the longer distance of 400m Hurdles - and it was a very good choice.

After only one season of running the 400m Hurdles, she broke the UK Record whilst competing in the Olympic trials in Birmingham. She broke the UK record again at the 1988 Olympic Semi-Finals in Seoul, and then broke it for a third time a day later, when she finished 5th in the Olympic Final, with a time of 54.03.

In 1989, Gunnell won the European Indoor Hurdles title at 400m. She then defeated the Olympic champion, Debbie Flintoff-King, to win the Commonwealth Gold Medal in Auckland, but she only finished a disappointing 6th at the 1990 European Championships.

In 1991, Gunnell broke her own UK record twice at Athletic events in Monaco and Zurich. At the World Championships in Tokyo that same year, she again broke the British record with a time of 53.16, and this time she went home with a Silver Medal.

At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Gunnell was in the form of her life, and beat Sandra Farmer-Patrick to the finish line, to win the 400m Hurdles Gold Medal with a time of 53.23. She also anchored the British Women's 4 × 400m Relay Team and won a Bronze Medal.

In 1993, Sally Gunnell set a new World Record in the 400m hurdles at the World Championships in Stuttgart, and won in a time of 52.74, just narrowly ahead of Sandra Farmer-Patrick. In 1994, Gunnell added the European Gold Medal to her growing collection, winning comfortably in 53.33. She also won the Goodwill Games, successfully defended her Commonwealth Title and won the World Cup Gold Medal in London.

In 1995 she sustained an Achilles tendon injury from which she never fully recover.ed Whilst defending her Olympic title in Atlanta in 1996, she pulled out injured in the semi-finals, which were being held on her 30th birthday. In September 1997 injury again forced her to pull out of the World Championships semi-final, and shortly after this she announced her retirement from the track.

After retiring from Athletics, Sally Gunnell worked as a Sports Presenter on British TV. In 1993 she was made an MBE, and in 1998, she became an OBE.

Sally then used her sporting experiences and her extensive training knowledge, to begin a new career as an Inspirational Speaker, Author and Corporate Wellbeing Coach. Sally has written four books on fitness, health, self-fulfillment, and wellbeing and you can find out more about her current work at


Dame Anita Roddick was a British businesswoman, and a campaigner for human rights and environmental causes. In 1976 she became the founder of the The Body Shop, a British retail company which produced and sold natural beauty products based on ethical consumerism. The company was one of the first to promote fair trade with developing countries and to declare that it did not test products on animals. She originally began the company as a means to earn a living and support her children, while her husband was away on a trekking tour in America. The success of the first shop in Brighton led to the launch of the second shop within a time frame of six months. When her husband Gordon, returned from his trek, he too joined the business.

“We made a list of all the things we didn’t want to be. We did not want to be these captains of industry. That didn’t make our blood sing. I didn’t want to be a cosmetic diva wearing high heels and make-up, prancing around at the celebrity functions. We were rooted in family and community.”

Born in 1942, in a bomb shelter in Littlehampton, England, Anita Perella, was the daughter of Italian immigrants who had only recently arrived in England from Naples during WW2. In the 1960's Anita spent a year working in Paris in the library of the International Herald Tribune and then went to Geneva to work for a women's rights organization. After this, she hit "the hippie trail," traveling through Europe, the South Pacific and Africa. During her journeys, she became acquainted with the rituals and customs of many Third World cultures, including their forms of health and body care.

On her return to England, Anita met fellow bohemian, Gordon Roddick, who wrote poetry and also loved to travel. They married in 1970, opened a B&B hotel and later started a restaurant. In 1976, Gordon decided to fulfill a life long ambition & ride a horse from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to New York. Anita agreed to sell their restaurant to finance his trip - hence why she needed to find another way to earn an income! Anita set up her first Body Shop with a £6,500 loan.

By 1991, the Body Shop had 700 branches. Roddick was quoted as saying:

The original Body Shop was a series of brilliant accidents. It had a great smell, it had a funky name. It was positioned between two funeral parlours—that always caused controversy. It was incredibly sensuous. It was 1976, the year of the heatwave, so there was a lot of flesh around. We knew about storytelling then, so all the products had stories. We recycled everything, not because we were environmentally friendly, but because we didn't have enough bottles. It was a good idea. What was unique about it, with no intent at all, no marketing nous, was that it translated across cultures, across geographical barriers and social structures. It wasn't a sophisticated plan, it just happened like that.

By 2004, the Body Shop had 1980 stores, serving more than 77 million customers throughout the world. It was voted the second most-trusted brand in the United Kingdom, and 28th top brand in the world.

On 17 March 2006, L'Oreal purchased Body Shop for £652 million. Some controversy and criticism was raised, as L'Oréal was known to use animal testing and the company was part-owned by Nestlé who had been criticized for its treatment of third-world producers.

In 2004, Roddick was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to long-standing hepatitis C. Anita Roddick died of an acute brain hemorrhage on 10 September 2007, after being admitted to Hospital the previous evening, suffering from a severe headache. When details of her estate were published after her death, it was disclosed that she had donated all of her £51 million fortune to charity, as she had promised.

Anita Roddick's story is one of the great female entrepreneurial tales of the late 20th century. She grew a single shop into an international empire and proved that a company can retain loyal customers and succeed financially by producing ethical, natural products.



Carrie Green is an award-winning entrepreneur, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association and author of the international bestselling book She Means Business (Hay House Publishing).

Having started the Female Entrepreneur Association (FEA) in 2011, Carrie transformed it into a 7-figure business with a network of almost 1 million women from all around the world. At its heart, FEA is an online platform created to support, champion and inspire women all around the world, to give them the inspiration and resources to achieve amazing success in their own businesses & lives… If one person can do it, we all can!

Carrie created the FEA membership in 2013, The Members’ Club, as a place for female entrepreneurs to take their business and ideas to the next level. A supportive place to connect with other like-minded women to network, grow and be inspired by expert lead trainings & incredible resources.

Her TEDx talk has had over 7.4million views to date and Carrie has been featured in The Daily Telegraph, RED Magazine, Stylist, GLAMOUR Magazine, BBC radio and on BBC News, championing entrepreneurship at every level.



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