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Happy International Women’s Day (IWD).  Celebrated throughout the world on 8th March commenorating the movement for women’s rights.  This year the theme for IWD is #pressforchange.  With global activism for women’s equality finally getting the coverage it deserves which has been fuelled by movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, there has never been a more pressing time for change for women.  Indeed the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report notes that gender parity is some 200 years away!


sophie ice maiden


While us women still have a way to go for equality, there are some women making changes and challenging the role of women now.  They are also paving the way for other women to follow.  One group of inspirational women doing just that is the Ice Maidens.  The British Army’s ‘Ice Maiden’ Expedition has become the first all-female team to cross the Antarctica continent from coast-to-coast using muscle power alone.


Over 62 days on the ice, the team travelled up to 43 kilometres a day, navigating crevasse fields whilst pulling sledges weighing up to 80kg and battling temperatures as low as -40°C.  The idea for the expedition was to inspire women of all ages and abilities.


I am delighted that one of the Ice Maiden’s – Sophie Montagne – took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions regarding her recent challenge.  I hope she inspires you as much as she and the rest of the Ice Maidens have me.  Remember to connect with Sophie below on social media and her blog.



What was your motivation for wanting to take part in the Ice Maiden challenge?

I wanted to escape my desk job, I felt bored and unfulfilled, frustrated with mundane life and I desperately wanted to see Antarctica – a totally unique landscape. I wanted to do something physically and mentally challenging that I would remember for the rest of my life and see if by sharing my experiences I could inspire others to take up a challenge and have the determination to see it through.


What were the positives of taking part?

So many, it’s changed my life! But the main thing was the incredible sense of team work and belonging that I had with my 5 team mates. I’ve never met such strong and inspiring women and, although we didn’t know each other before Ice Maiden, by the end I could read them better than my oldest friends. Knowing exactly how to cheer each other up when we were feeling down, or how to motivate each other when we were having a tough day was what made our expedition such a success.


What made you smile during the challenge?

My team mate Jenni – she was always dancing on her skis, singing along to Celine Dion and causing mischief and she always, always made me laugh. She’s morale on tap!


What challenges did you face during your trek?

We had temperatures as low as -56 degrees Celsius and a storm with 100kph wind that kept us trapped in our tents for 2 days. There was also the risk of falling into a crevasse and, if we were injured, help was a very long way away. Most of all though, it was the endurance – we skied 1,704km from one side of the continent to the other which meant 10 hours of skiing every day for 61 days. That was exhausting and I can safely say that every part of my body hurt!


ice maiden challenge

What did you learn about yourself during and after the challenge?

I learned that I have a lot to give a team, that I’m very easy-going, very positive and a good listener. I also discovered a new confidence – we went from zero polar experience to completing an unguided and unsupported Antarctic crossing. Before us, more people had been to the moon than done that, so I feel that I’ve achieved something really unique.


What women inspire you?

Clare Balding is such an awesome role model (and I would love her job!). She is so warm, every generation love her, and she is knowledgeable, successful and pioneering, but with great humility. She has quietly become a national treasure and nobody has a bad word to say about her.


If you could give other women 3 pieces of advice, in terms of facing challenges, what would that advice be?

  1. Break your challenge down into manageable chunks. If it’s huge it can seem overwhelming at the start so set short term goals that will give you confidence and a sense of achievement as you go along. This will help build the motivation to reach that ultimate goal.
  2. Sign up! If you don’t put your name into the hat nobody is going to pick you. When I applied for Ice Maiden, along with 250 others, I never dreamed that I had what it takes to make the final team. I thought I’d enjoy the ride until somebody told me to get off the train…and then I found myself in Antarctica! Don’t rule yourself out of a challenge before it’s even begun.
  3. Don’t let people put you off. I’m an optimist and people are always trying to stamp on my dreams! It takes a lot of strength to ignore the doubters and keep believing in your goal, despite the many hardships and setbacks along the way. Never, ever give up because the planning is always the hardest part.


ice maidens



I also asked some bloggers who inspired them and this is what they told me:


Vicky from Millie Beach Huts is inspired by Dr Kate Granger, young doctor with a passion for patient care.  At just 29, Dr Granger was diagnosed with cancer.  As a terminally ill cancer patient, she had been informed she may only live for another 14 months. But over the five years post her initial diagnosis, Dr Granger achieved so much. I’ve been humbled and blown away by the courage, pride, commitment, love and dedication she has shown to us all at her most vulnerable times.


Chloe from Marble Beauty is inspired by Otegha Uwagba who founded Women Who which is a community for creative, working women Her ‘Little Black Book’ motivates me to work as hard as I can, to build a business for myself!


Catalina from Stylish Confidence is inspired by Mihaela Noroc founder of Atlas of Beauty. In a world that cares too much about appearance, Mihaela demonstrates we should forget about set standards.  


Kate from Ever After with Kids has been inspired by Rose Mcgowen and the countless other women speaking out and standing up against sexual harassment – so brave to put themselves out there and face torrents of abuse and name calling – but paving the way for a better future for our daughters. 


Marie from Restless Soul Adventures is inspired by Katherine Johnson and the many other African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA in the sixties. Being a techie myself, I see these women as true pioneers for women in technology.


Lucie from Call Me Dumpling is inspired by the author and journalist Xinran. In the 90s she had a radio programme in China, documenting the stories of womenpost Cultural Revolution; she later wrote a book based on the lives and experiences of the women she’d encountered on her show. She touches on topics like the one child policy, gender hierarchy, and the lost daughters of China in her novels.


Mel from Raise the Waves is inspired by Claudette Colvin. In March 1955 (9 months before Rosa Parks did the same thing) then 15-year-old Claudette refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person. She was arrested and convicted of violating segregation laws, disturbing the peace and assault.  To have that kind of courage, not only as a teenager but as a black teenager during an extremely racist time in the US, is inspiring and motivating.



Twitter: www.twitter.com/Mountain_Sophie

Instagram: www.instagram.com/Mountain_Sophie 

Blog: sophiemontagne.com




Other blog posts in Why She Inspires Me Series

Why B from Boost My Budget Inspires Me

Why I’m Supporting Female Bloggers

Why Becky from Cuddle Fairy Inspires Me

Why Sarah from Life in a Breakdown Inspires Me

Why Emma from EmmaDrew Inspires Me

Why Gwennan from Twentsomethingmeltdown Inspires Me

Why Francesca from Pennies to Pounds Inspires Me

Why Laura from Mum On A Mission Inspires Me

Why Katy from Katy Kicker Inspires Me

Why Jenna from A Balanced Belly Inspires Me

Why Jordanne from The Life of A Glasgow Girl Inspires Me

Why Michelle from Making Sense of Cents Inspires Me

Why Victoria from Lylia Rose Inspires Me





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  1. Gemma Cook
    March 8, 2018 / 11:07 am

    My mum inspires me. She is my best friend & because there is only a 17 year age gap we are more like sister’s.
    She is a wonderful mum & excellent grandma.
    Love her to the moon and back!

    • admin
      March 8, 2018 / 11:17 am

      That is so lovely to hear. Thanks for sharing Gemma. Happy International Women’s Day to you and your mum. x

  2. Natalie H
    March 8, 2018 / 12:46 pm

    My mum is inspirational to me – after a devastating stroke she is a survivor!

    • admin
      March 8, 2018 / 2:51 pm

      I’m glad your mum is doing ok. Thank you for sharing. x

  3. Kobi Hensley
    March 8, 2018 / 6:00 pm

    My daughter. She has gone through so much and is still the sweetest, strongest woman I know.

  4. Julie Carwardine
    March 8, 2018 / 6:35 pm

    Has to be my mum. She brought me up single handed from the age of 6 and has always been my rock. Now in her 70s with various health issues, she is still amazing and a fantastic nan to my two girls. Plus she is one of the most hilariously funny people there is!

  5. Andrea Fletcher
    March 11, 2018 / 3:17 pm

    My daughter who copes amazingly with my grandson who was born needing a heart operation and is facing another operation in a couple of months.

  6. Tracy Nixon
    March 11, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    Princess Diana inspired me when she was alive x

  7. Kimberly Meadows
    March 11, 2018 / 3:23 pm

    My mum is my inspiration,after my dad took us to Malta back in 1978 and then he abandoned us there,mum was 32 and I was 14 the eldest of 5 kids,She did everything to make sure we stayed together and had an education. I have been home in England for a long time but my mum sisters and brothers all made lives out there despite everything. Mum I love and respect you so much!

  8. Nikki Hayes
    March 11, 2018 / 3:26 pm

    My sister – the family high flyer – with her great job involving regular travel to several other countries :o)

  9. Liam Fitzpatrick
    March 11, 2018 / 3:48 pm

    My sister, at the age of 24 she owns and manages 3 shops! How amazing

  10. March 11, 2018 / 3:53 pm

    My stepdaughter who has MS and is legally blind but still gets out and volunteers at local hospitals to cheer up patients 🙂

  11. Solange
    March 11, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    My mum.

  12. Gloria C
    March 11, 2018 / 6:31 pm

    Victoria Beckham

    Not only is she an excellent business woman, but she is a great Mother.

  13. ElizM
    March 11, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    I’m inspired by great writers like Emily and Charlotte Bronte – how did they write such great works with such little opportunity and experience of life

  14. Leila Benhamida
    March 11, 2018 / 10:21 pm

    My grandmother always so kind and full of wisdom.

  15. Frances H
    March 12, 2018 / 10:01 am

    The woman who refused to wear heels at that receptionist job. The more you stand your ground, the more ridiculous people will look. Heels are optional.

  16. Eve H Ogden
    March 12, 2018 / 10:47 am

    My mum inspires me totally

  17. Susan B
    March 12, 2018 / 2:39 pm

    Celia Hammond inspires me. She gave up a lucrative career as a model and all the benefits that come with that and, instead, founded a very successful and effective cat rescue charity. Unlike other cat rescue charities, Celia works with feral cats and she also gets her hands dirty. An extraordinary woman.

  18. Lynn Brown
    March 12, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    I find Katie Piper very inspiring.

  19. March 13, 2018 / 6:44 am

    My daughters inspire me. Both manage to successfully combine high powered careers with being wonderful mothers, marathon runners and great cooks and gardeners. I think they must have found the art of cramming 48 hours into every day!

  20. sonya ritchie
    March 15, 2018 / 1:23 am

    this would be an awesome competition

  21. March 15, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    What an amazing bunch! After the snow here last week I can safely say Antarctica is off my to-visit list… Thanks for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime last week!

  22. Hayley F
    March 17, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    My mum inspires me x

  23. Gerri Tennant
    March 18, 2018 / 4:18 pm

    Judi Dench inspires me. She is chic, sassy and smart and shows us how to,grow older gracefully.

  24. Alica
    March 18, 2018 / 4:33 pm

    My daughter inspires me every day! She makes me so proud 🙂

  25. paula cheadle
    March 18, 2018 / 4:58 pm

    my Nan, nothing fazed her

  26. Rachel Colclough
    March 18, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    My daughter inspires me to be better

  27. cheryl hadfield
    March 18, 2018 / 6:33 pm

    My Mum inspires me, if I can live my life has honest and caring as her then i will have led a great life

  28. Lynsey Buchanan
    March 19, 2018 / 3:43 am

    My mum has always inspired me if I end up half ad good a mum as she is then im doing great

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