We met Lesley Knight at the Woman&Home Awards and were super impressed – both by her heartbreaking story and how she has picked herself up and is making an amazing contribution to lots of communities in the UK.
Tell us about yourself Lesley
I’m single. I have one child Tom, who would have been 21 this year. He passed away in a traffic accident 10 years ago and had to be airlifted to a busy road near to the hospital as there was no hospital helipad to land on.
I’m an ambassador for the HELP Appeal, which is the only charity in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads.
What have been the highlights of your life so far?
The first time I stepped onto a hospital helipad. For me it was the first time that I realised that all the hard work by the HELP Appeal team and I had paid off. To some people, it might just be a landing pad of concrete or metal, but to many others, their closeness to the emergency department helps to save time when transferring a seriously ill patient to the treatment they urgently need. Helipads give them the best possible chance of continuing to live their lives and spending more precious time with their loved ones.
Another has to be winning the Community Hero award at the Amazing Women 50 Over 50 awards organised by Woman&Home magazine. Knowing that the readers voted for me makes it even more special – I am so grateful to them.
How have you changed since you turned 50. What age you feel right now?
I’ve loved turning 50 this year. I set myself a goal at 49 to get fit for my 50’s. I hated going to the gym at first but now I exercise three times a week and this has motivated my family and friends to start. It has helped my mental health dramatically, drives me to keep going and proves that this girl can. It makes me smile when my entire washing basket is full of Lycra clothing. I just want to feel strong from inside and out.
Where do you call home?
I’ve lived in the West Midlands all my life. But if I could live anywhere else it would have to be in Spain, close to the Mediterranean Sea. I love the weather, cuisine and the relaxed way of life.
How do you spend your free time?
I love going to the gym and spending time with friends and family. I also love travelling to new countries when I can.
Tell us about your style
My favourite fashion designer has to be Ted Baker. I love their quirky designs which are elegant, always of a high quality and they use really gorgeous, vibrant colours. And J D Williams will always have a special place in my heart. I felt amazing in their beaded dress when I went on stage to collect my Woman&Home award at Claridges Hotel.
I love wearing heels. Couldn’t live without them! Some people feel they constrict you but I feel empowered when I put them for my many meetings and fundraising events throughout the year.
Technology – have you embraced it?
I love to use the latest technology and gadgets. My Amazon Alexa and I rub along nicely. She tells awful jokes but still I laugh!
Instagram is definitely my favourite app. My account is @lesley45. It’s so easy to use on my mobile – which is really important when I’m out and about meeting people to raise awareness about the HELP Appeal. I just wish that links could be included too!
What’s your signature dish?
I love cooking fish. My favourite recipe has to be Salmon Teriyaki with vegetables.
I’ve been using Joe Wicks’ cookery books a lot over the past year. They’re easy to follow and obviously very healthy. I want to look after my body as I have so much I want to achieve which requires energy, determination and focus.
… and your favourite food?
Any type of fish with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Bliss.
Are you a fan of TV?
I love box sets and binge watch them. I would definitely recommend Killing Eve and the Bodyguard. I absolutely loved them.
What music do you listen to?
Soul music. Particularly anything by Luther Vandross or George Michael.
Is there something you couldn’t live without?
I can’t live without my goals and dreams. I have lots of things I want to achieve. To do this I want to remain visible and vocal in all walks of life. Fading into the background is not on my radar.
Who do you most admire?
My son. The trauma of losing my little boy will never get easier, but through my work I’m able to find some relief and even find myself looking to the future. Working for the HELP Appeal gives me hope and I feel privileged to be in the position to help others. Since I started fundraising for charity, the HELP Appeal has helped to fund 24 hospital helipads across the country, of which there have been over 10,000 landings. I am so proud that I have helped to make this happen.
But there is still so much more to do. We go to whatever hospital needs us most across the country and there are over 50 more helipad projects that need our support.
Your top tip for #womenover50?
I think that women over 50 have to push back against the stereotypes of either being a dragon or simply fading from society. I do this by owning who I am and helping other women too.
A lot of people may think that getting older is an obstacle to being a strong woman, but I don’t think it has to be. Getting older certainly doesn’t define who I am. I feel stronger and fitter than I’ve ever done. Seventy is not the new 60, 40 is not the new 30. 50 is 50 and it looks and feels great.
Please visit the HELP Appeal for more information or follow the charity on Twitter: @helipadhelp or on Facebook: HELP Appeal – County Air Ambulance Trust.
To support the HELP Appeal please call the donation helpline on 0800 389 8999 or text HPAD22 plus the amount and send to 70070.