Anne Davies, chief executive and founder of children’s charity Jigsaw4U has received an Inspiring Woman of the Year Award by SHE women’s magazine, for demonstrating incredible strength, bravery, commitment and determination in her life.
She was presented with her Award at a glittering Awards ceremony at London’s Claridges by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
After 20 years in social work, Anne started up Jigsaw4U in 1997 whose aim is to support children, young people and their families who have experienced, grief, loss and trauma to meet together to tell their stories, develop coping strategies and social networks. To start with, it was just Anne working from home, but now there are 27 staff and volunteers with three offices in the UK. The charity works with other organisations to help children in South Africa, Peru and Nigeria. In 2005, Anne led a team to Sri Lanka to work with children bereaved through the tsunami and they worked with 350 children in three weeks.
Anne won the Award for the category “The Survivor” and indeed, she has managed to overcome terrible hardship and trauma, which began when she was a child. Her father, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had a gambling problem, while her mother was also deeply depressed as she never recovered from the deaths of Anne’s two elder brothers, who died as babies before she was born. “The environment in which I grew up was traumatic,” Anne says. “Both my parents regularly talked about killing themselves. As a family, we hid this from the outside world because of the stigma attached to mental illness.”
Having grown up feeling isolated and vulnerable, Anne was determined to help others who were in need of support and trained as a social worker. “I found I connected easily with children, especially those who suffered from loss and trauma,” she adds.
While she was in her early 20s, as her career was taking off, she was raped – twice. She responded turning her painful experiences into something positive, and set up one of the first ever interview suites to help sexually abused children talk about their terrifying experiences.
“I view my own experiences as a gift – because of what they’ve enabled me to achieve,” she says. “Bitterness is futile – instead I embrace all that has happened to me and do the very best I can to make the most of life – both mine and others.”
For more information about the SHE Inspiring Women of the Year Awards, visit www.allaboutyou.com, or watch the video excerpt from the event below.