By Rachel Lankester.
This week I realised a dream! I’ve long been an admirer of BBC Woman’s Hour. When I created the Mutton Club, I knew it would be the perfect forum for my message of challenging the status quo and changing perceptions associated with older women. For those of you who don’t know, Woman’s Hour is THE radio programme discussing women’s issues here in the UK and through the BBC’s global presence, potentially worldwide. It’s clever, thought-provoking, challenging and highly entertaining.
And this week I was on it!
Woman’s Hour was running an entire week of programmes featuring menopause. They say they’ve been talking about menopause on Woman’s Hour for 70 years but never such a concerted effort as last week, when there were a lot of guests and discussions about all sorts of relevant issues . However, I did find myself chuntering at the radio quite a lot. I felt the conversations were overly negative and also that too much airtime was given to HRT.
So I wrote in to the programme trying to express a more positive approach to menopause and highlighting some of the other ‘alternative’ methods of coping and what seems to help women in other cultures cope better than we do in the West. Don’t you just love it when changing one’s diet and adding more exercise etc. can be thought of as alternative methods of coping with a completely natural process in one’s life, while reaching for drugs is the accepted norm!
I’d tried contacting Woman’s Hour before to introduce them to the Mutton Club but with no luck. This time a very clever friend suggested I write to the co-presenter of the series at BBC Radio Sheffield, Paulette Edwards. This time I got a very quick and positive response saying they’d be in touch, as what I was suggesting was definitely something they wanted to cover. So I waited for my call, but the week came to an end, the menopause series was over and I’d still not been contacted. So I chuntered at the radio a bit more and felt annoyed that I was still so hopeless at doing my own PR!
But then on Monday afternoon I got a call from the senior producer at Woman’s Hour asking me to come in the following morning, live in the studio to talk about a more positive perspective on menopause. Hooray! I was to join two other listeners who’d also written to the program about the negative coverage. It was time to speak up for menopause!
So I made my way through the horrid London rush-hour traffic (which I’ve now mostly avoided for over a decade, working as I do from home) to BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place just up from Oxford Circus in London. I took a selfie outside the building, trying to contain my excitement! And of course my nerves…
In my bag I had a piece of paper with my three key points I wanted to raise on it. I was hoping I’d be able to get my messages across, although I had no idea what exactly I’d be asked. But I did know they got two birds with one stone so to speak having me on the show. Because not only do I have a more positive view of menopause than many of their guests the previous week, but I also went through early menopause at 41.
Once I got my photo ID at reception I was shown up to the Woman’s Hour ‘green room’ where the guests gather before the show. The presenter on that day, Jane Garvey, came in to chat to us before we went live and to get an idea of who we were and what we might be talking about. Then we went into the studio for the beginning of the show and listened on headphones to the first feature on Clare’s Law, which lasted 15 minutes before we were on. You can listen to the show on the link below. As well as the live programme, there’s also a podcast edition so we were asked to hang around and chat some more after the live programme was over.
It was a joy to be part of such an amazing programme and to be interviewed by the incredible and very charming Jane Garvey. Watching the professionalism of the entire crew and Jane’s ability to switch seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly from one topic to the next and one set of guests to the next was awe-inspiring. She really is a marvelous mutton!
Having been told I could have one mention of the Mutton Club, I was thrilled to be given an extra two that were nothing to do with me! When Jane read out a Tweet to the programme saying the writer had laughed at the name Mutton Club, I got goosebumps. Yay!
And we got 80 new subscribers to the website on that one day as a result of the interview! Woo hoo!
Onwards and upwards eh!
Just click the red link below to listen to the show. The menopause discussion starts 15 minutes in and again around 45 minutes.
Rachel Lankester is the founder of the Mutton Club. She has a background in corporate communications and sustainability, and has found her passion helping women feel good about life at any stage and particularly midlife. She’s rather introverted but still has an awful lot she wants to communicate to the world! She loves yoga, singing, travel and anything to do with China. On Twitter: @ (but mostly @)