Wirksworth Students and Women in Adventure

Sporting students from Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth, a member of the RDSSP, got the chance to meet and interview top female adventure athletes and filmmakers at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF).

Ellie Ford and Olivia Holmes attended the special Women in Adventure Network at the tenth annual ShAFF event on Saturday 21st March. The panel of hugely successful elite female role models included ultra-runner, Nikki Kimball; Everest summiter, Squash Falconer; professional stuntwoman, Steph Carey; professional climber, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk; American producer and director, Brenda Piekarski and filmmaker and photographer, Jen Randall.

The network event included video presentations of the highlights of films featuring women in adventure sports, followed by a question and answer session and mini interviews with key audience members on whether we’re starting to see a shift towards seeing equal numbers of women in adventure sports on the big screen, behind the camera and in the audience.

18 year old Ellie, who plays basketball for the Nottingham Wildcats, said: “ShAFF was an amazing opportunity and a great day to be a part of. The women that we met were inspiring and there should be more role models like them for young girls in sport. Personally Squash [Falconer] was my favourite, she was so down to Earth but at the same time she was a woman who had climbed the highest mountain – she didn’t stop at judgment and she did what she wanted to do for herself. I would love to mirror her in my sport and become a great inspiration for other girls.”

SSP Manager, Janice Price, attended the network and also volunteered at the weekend-long adventure film festival. She said: “It was inspirational for the girls to meet the women who’d made films or featured in films at the festival. I don’t think until they got there, they knew quite what to expect but they got a huge deal out of the experience, just by talking to people who had realised their dreams and made things happen.”

“The fact that this is the first year that ShAFF has hosted a big women’s network devoted to the profile of women in sport, I think it’s a sign of the times and there are a lot of incredibly gifted women out there who are doing their own thing, which was really, really good to see.”

ShAFF Festival Director, Matt Heason said: “We were delighted to welcome Ellie and Olivia to ShAFF and I am so pleased they got so much out of the experience and went away feeling inspired by all of the adventurous people on the panel. It’s great that we were able to help bring motivation and encouragement to the next generation of sporting stars.”

Olivia and Ellie were keen to ask the sporting stars what they thought of the nationwide This Girl Can campaign by Sport England, which aims to get women and girls moving, regardless of shape, size and ability.

Squash Falconer said: “I love it! I think it’s absolutely fantastic, I wish I’d thought of it. I think it’s brilliant. I think the best to do is to get out there and tell your story – be brave enough to be vulnerable and show your work. If you’ve got ideas, photos and film, don’t over think it, just put it out there and share it.”

Hannah Maia created and starred in film Megamoon, she said: “I think women need to be more open and supportive of each other. I’m self-taught and I think women don’t shout about what they can do so much because it’s just that lack of confidence so if we can all be supportive and open and tell people when they’re doing a good job, that can only be a good thing. It’s just about every day adventures; you don’t have to be breaking records. Feel like you can get out, get muddy and you can have fun doing it!”


About ShAFF: The festival took place from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd March and showcased more than a hundred of the world’s best adventure, extreme sports and travel films in 30 different themed sessions.

For more info visit: www.shaff.co.uk