How to find your park bench: a lesson in motivation from Dame Rosemary Butler AM

A few weeks back I went to an awards ceremony which featured some of the most inspirational speakers I have ever heard. One of those was Dame Rosemary Butler AM.

If you’re outside the Welsh political sphere you may not have heard about Dame Butler but to me, without a shadow of a doubt, she is one of the most inspirational female politicians I have ever heard of and someone I wholeheartedly inspire to be.

She’s not only a cracking representation of everything we need in politics – a no-nonsense talking, down to earth, real woman – but she also has one of the most motivating political stories I have ever heard.

For Dame Butler, her whole political career began when she approached her local council to get a bench in a park where her and other mothers took their children to play. A small ask you might think, but anyone who has an ounce of experience with local councils will tell you that the simplest things are often the most difficult to resolve.

So Dame Butler rallied the other mothers, campaigning to get a bench in the park where they could sit and watch their little ones run around. Months went by and still nothing had been done so she decided to stand in an election to embarrass the male councillors. Thing was, the other women in her community had become so inspired by Dame Butler’s passion for the cause that she was elected to the bench – something she freely admitted came as quite a surprise.

She held that seat from the early 1970s until 1999 – becoming Mayor of Newport for 1989-1990 along the way – when she was chosen during the first Welsh Assembly elections to represent Newport West.

To say Dame Butler is an inspiration is an understatement. Whether you agree with her political stance or not, this is a woman to take inspiration from.

And she did it all because of a park bench.

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