'Empowered Women Really Do Empower Women'
Our fourth annual Landor Association Lecture was delivered online this week, enabling members of the Landor community from far afield to hear our speaker. Although Old Girl Felicity Bee, who delivered our lecture, is not yet a household name, that may be about to change, because she is a member of the British Olympic bobsleigh squad training for Beijing 2022 and Milan 2026. She was also a worthy successor to our previous Landor speakers, fellow Old Girls Sophie Turner and Dr Helen Castor, and TV historian Lucy Worsley.
Head Master, Dr Burley welcomed the audience, and sporting sixth former Ruby introduced Felicity as the embodiment of King’s High’s motto ‘Aspire, Achieve, Enjoy’. She aspires to be a doctor and an Olympian, she enjoys both her studies and her training, and she is on the verge of graduating in medicine from Cardiff University, and competing for her country at the Winter Olympics.
Felicity began by saying she viewed life as a book, and although she was only 23, some of her chapters had already been written. She believed she had certainly crammed a lot onto every page so far. She urged everyone to embrace life and accept every challenge that comes. In your book of life, she says ‘You have to be the main character, not the backing singer, and not the second lobster in the Nativity’. It’s advice she has indeed followed, by not only reaching the dizzy heights in music, all types of sport, and getting into one of the top twenty medical schools in the UK. Felicity feels great joy in having said yes all the time. ‘I love the fact that I do everything’ she says.
Of course, Felicity was very lucky in having an amazing support network of family, friends and teachers. She left King’s High in 2016 on a sports scholarship to Cardiff University. But she has also ploughed her own furrow (or should that be ‘cut her own path through the ice’?). Once at university, she was recommended to use a sports coach who was located fifty odd miles away in Swansea. Without a car, it was her firm commitment and resolve that enabled her to get up on a Saturday morning, just as her partying student housemates were coming in from their nights out, to take a bus and train journey to arrive in Swansea for 9.00 a.m.
Having embraced the social side of student life along with the training in Swansea and studying, Felicity did find it took a toll on her health, so she decided to take herself in hand for the rest of her degree course, choosing to live with a group of medics who shared her dedication and vision, and finding sports coaching nearby. She was even able to combine her sporting life with a medical placement for homeless people, prisoners and asylum seekers.
Bobsleigh training sounded very strange, comprising such joys as a feeling akin to ‘fifty seconds of being thrown off a cliff in a wheely bin’! Yet selection in British bobsleigh left her ‘addicted to the adrenalin rush’ that the sport gave her, and for Felicity ‘the buzz of putting on a GB suit never diminishes’.
We were delighted that Felicity took time to answer the questions that we had sent in. Dr Cheetham and Ms Bradbury were two of the people at King’s High who had most inspired her to achieve. For those considering the study of medicine but lacked staying power, Felicity urged people to ask where they would like medicine to take them, for the possibilities are legion, and to ask themselves what really makes them tick. As a people person, it is that side of medicine which drives Felicity on. She takes her energy from other people, so would always choose, for example, hairdressing over biochemistry for its exposure to people!
Did she have to watch her diet while training? Felicity confessed to living on a diet of ‘Earl Grey tea, chocolate and vegetables’, for bobsleigh is a sport where the strength and stamina from a few more pounds is paramount. Who are her sporting heroes or heroines? Felicity was a great admirer of Allyson Felix and Kelly Sotherton, but mainly wanted to be herself, rather than to emulate others. What type of medicine would Felicity like to take up? She wasn’t completely sure yet, but ‘wants to be a good doctor’ in whatever field she explores.
Felicity told her remote audience of King’s High girls past and present, parents, teachers and friends of the school, that ‘empowered women really do empower women.’ She advised us that ‘in pushing the boundaries, we are far more capable than we think’. Hers was a thrilling and inspiring lecture, and, with a wisdom that belied her 23 years, she urged us all to ‘live in the moment, say yes, laugh with people around you, and sometimes stop to rest’. What splendid advice for us all. We wish Felicity well in the remaining months of her studies, and, as Ruby said, the whole Landor community – in fact the whole country – will be cheering her on to Olympic success.
If you missed Felicity's talk, you can watch it here.