Inspirational women

All Systems Row with Steph Toogood

Women often find that is all systems go as they juggle personal, community and professional responsibilities. Steph Toogood has switched this idea up a gear as she takes part in the All Systems Row challenge. I am so grateful that she took time out from her busy schedule to take part in an interview for my blog.

I am from Massachusetts, USA where I first rowed at University on the Charles River about 34 years ago. I moved to the UK in 2000 and married a Brit, we have a 13-year-old son. I work as a NeuroPhysio with acquired brain injury survivors. It is a job I find stimulating and
rewarding. I rediscovered rowing 4 years ago, but this time on the sea. I absolutely love it and it has given me a new lease on life – training with rowers of all ages, pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible. I am thrilled about taking on this challenge with 5 strong women and I can’t wait to take in the gorgeous British coastal landscape along the way.

What led you to begin rowing?

I first tried rowing at uni in an eight and four on the Charles River in Boston Massachusetts. I’ve always enjoyed trying different sports and rowing always appealed to me. I didn’t row for about 30 years, then I tried Coastal rowing about 6 years ago and I love it!

What made you want to get involved in All Systems Row?

I was at the right place at the right time. The idea was floated by our club captain Vinny and the challenge appealed to me right away. I didn’t quite grasp what I was getting into at the time!

How did you raise the money to take part in All Systems Row?

We each contributed £5,000- and have raised the remaining money through sponsorship and fundraising events.

What are you most looking forward to about the adventure?

Living in the moment – I don’t do that enough!

What do you think you will find most challenging?

Not sure really – perhaps the exhaustion, or not being able to leave a 10-meter boat.

Who has supported you as you prepare for the challenge?
My crew and friends mostly. My husband has to some extent as it has hijacked my life.

What are you hoping to learn?

That I am more resilient than I thought.

What do you think the biggest giggle will be?

I’ll let you know when we finish!

What are you personally giving up to take part?

Time with my son, husband, and friends and work.

What book would you recommend to another person?

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (I just like this book!).

What needs to change about the position of women in society?

To be honest, I think a lot of people will judge me for taking part in such an indulgent project with a husband and 14-year-old son at home. That is the great thing about getting older for me – I stopped worrying so much about what other people think- it is liberating.

What would you say to a woman facing a daunting challenge in her personal or professional life?

You are far stronger than you think. Don’t underestimate yourself for a second

My Random Musings

Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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