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Rhoda's Story

I chose Rhoda for this project as I am so inspired by the way she looks at the world. For me she is the definition of an empowering independent woman, and she does this with such poise and grace. Her positive energy is inspiring, she gets up and caries on with life with just as much enthusiasm as before. I love her determined work ethic especially in a male dominated industry, even more so at that time.

*This story contains sensitive themes around loss

Growing up between a small island community and the hustle and bustle of Glasgow in the 1940’s showed me, from an early age how different two lives could be when not many miles apart. The city centre and a rough area of Glasgow taught me life coping skills for myself and my family while island life nurtured my love of nature especially the beach, sea and everything connected with it and its wildlife. My main influence in my life, my father, died in my mid teenage years and this showed me how fragile life could be and perhaps formed a protective shell to help me to be the person I became. Even although I had a large extended family, I always knew I was not a dainty lady type person who sits around and waits for someone to do a job or task for them. “If you want something done right- do it yourself!” Was an early mantra I developed and I still live by it. Even as a child my mother and father taught me how to create things I wanted or needed from all sorts of materials. My younger brother inherited a flair for woodworking. “One off” items are referred to as bespoke, we call it necessity. Money was never in great volume but we had what we needed and it gave me a valuable lesson in appreciating what we had, what others didn’t have and how to help someone in need. I also had my parents  faith in God so I am never without hope in my life and never felt alone. With these life skills, being adapt to turning my hand to anything and also a thirst for knowledge I excelled in my education- however this is where another valuable lesson was learned- you don’t always get what you are entitled to - but don’t let it get you down. I chose another path as I knew I didn’t have the luxury of full time senior education. The option of full time work plus night school could get me the same result. This allowed a lesser financial burden on my widowed mother and gave strength to my mantra “want something done right- do it yourself 
The work ethic learned from my parents helped me through my apprenticeship years to achieve what I wanted from my career. Some days were hard as the preconceived ideas of women not staying in the job, even in drawing office was not unusual. Being a woman in this environment kept you on your toes as you had to have a tougher skin, quicker tongue and better work results than male co-workers and also a sense of humour!
I loved my work and enjoyed every aspect of it from Shipbuilding, Heavy Engineering, and later, Civil Engineering. Through my life and work experiences  I actually thrived in this environment as being in this male dominated arena allowed me to become a stronger, more independent woman that would serve me well in my later life. I was never going to be the sort of woman that stayed at home and was looked after by her husband. I was fortunate enough to marry a man who was proud of, and embraced my strong spirit. He would be more likely to find me mixing cement rather than cake mixture and was not threatened by this. Working as a team to create a life together was more important, and showing our daughter these traits was essential. 
Heavy engineering in all forms declined & I moved from drawing office to drawing office, normally by invitation to new firms by reputation of my skill and variety of work experience and very often I was the only female there and I was seen many times as an honorary male in these environments possibly due to the fact I seemed to have more in common in general conversation with them rather than the females in the office in secretarial roles. I sometimes felt that I didn’t truly fit into either area and this made me more reserved, quiet and keep myself to myself. Other see this as aloof or shy, however it could be those survival instincts from earlier years kicking in once again.
Family has always been the important circle I surround myself with, also I have many acquaintances in my life that I share time with but only a handful of people I call true friends and they know who they are. I became a widow far too soon and in that I lost my best friend, travel companion and sailing mate, but once again, faith, survival skills and happy memories got me through to show love, support and everlasting thanks to my loving daughter.
My word “Resilient” confirms what I hope I have gotten on with my life no matter what has been thrown at me, put on my path or put into my world, I have overcome with strength and determination and I will not be beaten. I strive to be an inspiration, especially to young people......face up to your obstacles, work a path through them and who knows… may enjoy the experience !
My charity is Mercy Ships, this is a faith based international development organisation that deploys their hospital ships to some of the poorest countries in the world, delivering vital, free healthcare to people in desperate need.
~Rhoda ~
~ I am resilient ~
For more information on this charity please click here 
Charity number; SC01484
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