A team of ‘hot women’ are set to tackle the menopause taboo at an upcoming event. Emily Jessica Turner finds out more.
A chance meeting over tea and toast led to the idea to host a conference tackling a taboo subject for Bexhill resident Jane Midwinter. While enjoying a breakfast at Eastbourne’s The Beach Kitchen, Jane felt a massive hot flush coming on.
Coming to her rescue while she sat fanning herself was proprietor Debbie Isepp, who shared with Jane her own menopausal experiences.
“This is where the idea to host an event for women at midlife and menopause (pre- peri- post-) was born,” Jane tells me.
“Debbie agreed that menopause was a taboo subject and that this needed changing, and she encouraged and supported me by introducing me to people she thought would be interested and supportive.”
After meeting songwriter and performer Maggie K de Monde, and then introduced to nutrition consultant Kate Arnold, Jane hosted a market research coffee morning to discuss the idea of a conference about the menopause with local women at The Lansdowne Hotel on King Edward’s Parade, Eastbourne.
“The women who came to the coffee morning spoke about how they felt about menopause. Some women said they felt invisible at times, and one said that she wished there had been something like this conference for her mother, because her mother had thought she was going mad,” Jane says. “The women were really helpful and contributed some great ideas and they all loved the concept of the event, to be provided with information face to face, in a positive, comfortable environment, where they could consider new information, ideas and opportunities, meet women and share stories.”
Along with hearing other women’s experiences, Jane’s hunt for information about coping with her own menopausal symptoms showed her that women ‘of a certain age’ needed support that just wasn’t easily available.
“For several years I had been perimenopausal – with just a few hot flushes and mood swings,” explains Jane, who, after a long and successful career as a teacher, leader, headteacher and advisory headteacher, gave up her career in education to care for her husband, who was diagnosed with throat cancer.
“During the time of Peter’s illness, menopause hit me like a tidal wave! I suffered with all sorts of symptoms, including fatigue, emotional outbursts, increased migraines and severe hot flushes many times during the day, to name but a few.
“I researched my own menopause symptoms and was faced with confusing information about support, HRT etc., and the more I researched and spoke to people, the more I became aware that this was a taboo subject. I found there to be a massive lack of understanding and support for women about menopause symptoms.”
Thus, Hot Women At Menopause was born. This project aims to provide an inspiring platform of positivity and information, bringing women together through empowerment during the menopause - a mission to be delivered at the inaugural conference, entitled ‘Hot Women At Menopause...The Burning Issue’.
Set to be held on Saturday, February 9, the conference will be hosted at The Lansdowne Hotel and is sponsored by hotel partner Catherine Clifford.
‘Hot Women At Menopause...The Burning Issue’ promises a wide range of mind, body and soul workshops, a number of high profile speakers, a dropin clinic with a nutrition consultant, and, of course, a nutritious and healthy lunch.
“The day is going to be a real treat for women as well as providing a positive platform offering accurate and helpful information; an opportunity to share their stories; listen to quality and well-informed motivational and inspirational speakers at the top of their game,”
“As well as the quality and excellent programme, illustrated above, there will be the opportunity to take part in our ‘Menopause and Midlife Listening Project’ and the chance for these stories to be shared on our website.”
Jo Fairley, Green & Black’s co-founder, and Kathy Abernethy, the chair of the British Menopause Society, will be guest speakers at the event, along with Henpicked’s Deborah Garlick, who will be speaking about menopause in the workplace.
“We wanted excellent, quality women to come and speak at our conference and so we put together a list of people and I wrote to them individually, several times! “ explains Jane. “They wanted to know who I was of course, how we were planning this and what the day would look like. All three speakers were impressed with what we’d planned and after more talks and information, we were able to secure their time and commitment. I won’t forget the excitement I felt, and I may have squealed a little too loudly over the telephone when they finally agreed.”
Kathy Abernethy will be sponsored by SYLK, and Jane is currently seeking further sponsorship from local and national businesses to cover the other costs.
“I also hope to be able to offer some concession tickets where appropriate, for women who are full-time carers for example, but need financial sponsorship in order to do this,” she explains. “In return for sponsoring ‘Hot Women At Menopause’, businesses’ products
or services will be advertised through a menu of sponsorship opportunities, including banners/signs, logo recognition/placement on our social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website; stand space or event swag.”
The conference is just the beginning of Hot Women At Menopause. After her husband’s illness, Jane set up as a consultant and coach in education, offering coaching to women at midlife and menopause. When she’s not relaxing in the South of France with Peter (or enjoying family time with her children and grandchildren, or practising yoga, or organising her upcoming two month trip to South America with her
husband), Jane is planning further informative and motivational events and forums.
“I am also campaigning for open and positive conversations about menopause, brokering relevant and helpful information for women, their colleagues, employers and employees, in the firm belief that this will lead to a reduction in work absenteeism, improved confidence and subsequently raised performance and self-fulfilment,” says Jane.
“I feel I now have the experience, knowledge, skills, determination and support from others, to help to change the menopause conversation, bust the taboo that it is and fuel the gathering momentum nationally and internationally for the greater recognition of the wisdom and potential of women at all stages of their lives.
“I hope women will leave the conference feeling supported, better informed and with choices; also knowing more about Hot Women At Menopause and what we can offer them,” Jane tells me. “It’s time to wave our fans of menopause awareness!”
There are approximately 80 places in total at the conference, and those who are interested are encouraged to register their interest as soon as possible via the facebook page at www.facebook.com/menopausemidlife or the website at hotwomenatmenopause.com