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News > General > Alumni Return to FHS for International Women's Day Panel

Alumni Return to FHS for International Women's Day Panel

We were delighted to welcome three inspirational alumnae back to school for very special panel event to mark International Women's Day 2024.
21 Mar 2024
Written by Marketing Team
International Women's Day Panel (L-R: Sarah, Dana and Alex)
International Women's Day Panel (L-R: Sarah, Dana and Alex)

On Friday 8th March we marked International Women’s Day 2024 with a spectacular day of festivities celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the world. We were delighted to welcome three inspirational alumnae back to school for very special panel event to mark the occasion.

The panel event was organised by our current Head Girl, Mary and Deputy Head Girl, Anna, and featured three former students: Dana Gillespie (Class of 1963), Sarah Esdaile (1988) and Dr Alex Rotas, all of whom have excelled in their careers.

Dana’s 2021 memoir ‘Weren’t Born a Man’ explores illustrious career as a singer songwriter involved in the recoding of over 70 albums, an actress and a broadcaster. Dana’s recent work includes collaborations with the London Blues Band and acclaimed albums, and a resurgence of recognition for her inspirational work.

Sarah has directed many iconic British TV programmes including Call the Midwife and EastEnders. Sarah also has an impressive career as a theatre director, directing incredible plays with LAMDA and West Yorkshire Playhouse and working with many producers including Bill Kenwright and Robert Fox.

Alex is a passionate anti-ageism activist, and her incredible photography, broadcasting and writing among other feats challenges societal stereotypes about ageing. Dr Rotas has had exhibitions in America and across Europe and travels the world photographing amazing older sportsmen and women.

The panel was chaired by Sixth Form ambassadors, Sofia and Claudia, and girls had the opportunity to ask our alumna about their life post Francis Holland. All three alumna spoke at length about how FHS gave them an inner sense of confidence, resilience and tenacity which has helped them enormously with navigating challenging work environments. Both Dana and Sarah gave specific mention to their music and drama teachers, respectively, who nurtured their talents at an early age and have proven staunch supporters of their creative career journeys. Alex delivered invaluable advice to the girls about embracing uncertainty in life and not being afraid to change direction if things don’t feel right. The panel also discussed how things have changed for the better for women in the workplace, and how whilst there is still so much work to be done, the strong foundations of their time at Francis Holland left them well equipped to forge incredibly successful careers. It was so inspiring for our students to meet three esteemed alumna and a huge thank you to Dana, Alex and Sarah for giving their time.

Thank you to all who contributed to making the day such a joyful occasion. Happy International Women’s Day one and all!

International Women's Day - Alumna Panel

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