An Inspirational Woman – Susan Denmark

This joyous email arrived in my in box this week and the writer has given me permission to publish it.

Susan was a participant on one of my Renewyou courses; at that time she was combining a demanding full time job with caring for her mother. I found her email really inspirational- I hope you do too.

Susan’s Email

“Just reading your newsletter reminded me that I have been meaning to get in touch for quite a while.

I was 50 in November and had been thinking for the year before how to celebrate. In January 2009 I decided not to have a big party but to identify 50 things to do in the next 2 years (i.e. the year leading up to and the year after my 50th). I had great fun with everyone coming up with the list. It included:

•    Owning 50 pairs of earrings (I stopped wearing them when I was a carer-too time consuming!)
•    Walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal path (nominated by Patch, my dog).
•    Writing 50 thank-you letters when I appreciated something someone had done for me.
•    Learning to ice skate.
•    Visiting every John Lewis Store in the UK.
•    Going to Liverpool (I’d never been!)
•    See 50 films (I now qualify for the ‘Silver Screen’ -£3 with tea and biscuits.

Northern Lights

The biggest one was to see the Northern Lights – a long held ambition. I spoke to a Norwegian friend and started to plan when I could possibly go.

Well-you know the saying about life is what happens between your plans……

I was diagnosed with MS in March-an MRI scan for a trapped nerve threw up this surprising news. Luckily I have not experienced any major symptoms -just a bit of tingling now and then (I severely embarrassed the consultant by saying that I didn’t mind the tingling -depending on where it was, and that if more women shared this experience Ann Summers would go out of business!)

On returning home I logged on to the MS Society website- and the first thing I saw was a fundraising advert “Would you like to see the Northern lights, and raise money for the MS Society?”

With one click of a button I was signed up to spend 8 days dog sledding across the Arctic Circle (the internet is so bad for impulsive people like me!!!) Hopefully, if not too exhausted I will get to see the Northern Lights -but if not, I’ll have a good excuse to go again.


One of the best things is that I had to raise £4000 to fund the trip and support the MS society. I thought I would have to do it all on my own but have been amazed at the love and generosity of others in helping me achieve my dream. Colleagues at my work organised a charity ball that made £1300, they’ve made and sold cakes, made cards , and held a book sale. People have even stopped me in the street and given me money.

My old work colleagues from BANES  (local authority) have raised lots too, even though I left there over 5 years ago. I still have a bit to go, so will continue fundraising for a bit (link at the bottom of the page!!)

What I have learned is that, even when there is bad news there is always something positive that comes out of it. It may not always be obvious, but it’s there somewhere if you open your mind -I guess it ‘s that  saying “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows“. I now know that I have wonderful friends and family, and will hopefully will get to see the Lights!

It also taught me to ask for help -something I have not always been good at, coming from the ‘Superwoman / Keep calm and carry on’ mould!

Intrepid Explorer

Well, I’m off this  Friday to the Arctic. It feels a bit like being pregnant, spending 9 months aware that something is about to happen and then suddenly it hits you- you are really going to have to do it!!

Thank you for your inspiration  – I really did take a lot from the Renew You course I attended. I am sure my ’50 things to do when I am 50′ came out of it-so thank you – I  will think of you when I look up at those lights!”

End of email

On the contrary thank YOU Sue, for sharing such a great story with us. I know your story will inspire others who are perhaps struggling with what life has thrown up at the moment. My only concern is that your own shining light will dim those you’re going to see! Keep us posted on how you get on and everything is crossed for you getting to see those lights!

Click here to access Sue’s fund raising page and support her trip and the MS society!


Posted on January 28th, 2010 by

8 Responses to “An Inspirational Woman – Susan Denmark”

  1. Vicki Day says:

    What an inspiring story and lady – I hope people who read this now go out and do “their bucket list” immediately …….

  2. Reading this has given me so much positive energy. I am so proud of Susan…what an amazing woman!!!
    …And Jane thank you for helping other women to shine. You are a star!

    • Jane says:

      Many thanks Veronica! With ‘smart opportunities‘ it sounds like you’re not so dim yourself! I’m glad you liked Susan’s story. She’s fab, isn’t she?

  3. Puts me to shame this morning! Will get up from this seat & start looking out not in!

    • Jane says:

      Ah, glad she has inspired you to action! But sometimes we need to sit and stare too! Don’t be too hard on yourself. And let me know what amazing things you get up to!

  4. Ceri says:

    Hi, Susan’s story is so inspiring. It just goes to show that challenges can become opportunities, and we shouln’t let adversity get in the way of our dreams. I have met so many inspirational women since setting up Fabafterfifty, I always find it quite humbling and continue to be amazed by what others can achieve.

    • Jane says:

      Hi Ceri, and thanks for commenting! Yes, it’s a great story isn’t it? People are amazing! Especially after 50….

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