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Ashgate Hospice > International Women’s Day at Ashgate Hospice: I love being part of a team which aspires to make the world a better place, by Rebekah Neelin

For International Women’s Day this year, we would like to pay tribute to the incredible role women have had and continue to have in shaping Ashgate Hospice. We asked colleagues to nominate who at the hospice inspires them – and we’ve asked nominees their thoughts on life as a woman in hospice care. 

Rebekah Neelin, our Head of Learning & Organisational Development, discusses why she’s so passionate about working for a compassionate organisation like Ashgate and how her mum’s kindness and strength through life’s adversities inspires her.  

What is your job role, what does it entail and what do you love about working at the hospice? 

I am Head of Learning & Organisational Development at Ashgate Hospice, which means I lead a fantastic team who deliver our learning events, support our volunteers, and work to bring to life our One Ashgate culture and values. Day-to-day this means a lot of meetings, strategic work and guidance through management and coaching, but my favourite parts are the great conversations with our wonderful staff and volunteers. Everyone within Ashgate is so passionate about what we do – I love that. 

What makes you proud to be a woman working for Ashgate Hospice? 

Ashgate is a very compassionate and inclusive employer. These aren’t just values on a poster, they are lived every day. I’m proud to be part of setting the policies and ways of working that make it possible for women (and men!) to balance a meaningful career with personal commitments and caring responsibilities. I feel valued at work because, not in spite of, the time I take to look after my daughter when she needs me or travel to Canada to stay connected with my family there. 

What inspired you to follow your chosen career? 

I came in to learning and development through teaching, finding joy in being able to help others learn whether that was high school English where I started, or leadership theories where I find myself now. I brought this skill set into working for charities because I want to be part of a team with a shared purpose, a reason for being that makes the world a better place. 

How does it feel to know your colleagues are inspired by you? And is there anyone at the hospice that inspires you? 

I am so moved by this recognition as it means I am successfully continuing the important work of role modelling authentic leadership, being my whole self at work so others can do the same. I came to Ashgate partly because of how inspiring I find Barbara-Anne Walker, who leads in this way. Her genuine and open approach has created a whole workforce of inspiring men and women, so many of whom show me every day how important it is to be passionate about your work and your wellbeing, and how these can be kept in balance. 

What women inspire you most and why?  

I am hugely inspired by so many women who live their lives openly on the world stage – from politicians like Jacinda Ardern to writers like Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown. My lifelong inspiration, though, is my mum. Able to reinvent and rediscover herself many times while always holding family at the heart of her world, she has always been a friend and role model to me. All through my childhood, when we went to university together (me for my undergrad and her for her PhD), and as we journey together now through the grief of losing my dad to cancer, she is a source of joy; vulnerable and strong, kind and honest. Exactly how I aspire to be! 


Read more from other nominees about what inspires them.

Why Rebekah was nominated

“We are inspired by her calm, wise and compassionate leadership of our team, despite incredibly difficult circumstances going on for her outside of work this last year.

“She has also overseen and steered a significant expansion in the Learning and Organisational Development team (4 new roles in the last 14 months), creating a positive and nurturing work culture where we are enabled to use our initiative, be supported and fulfill our potential – and ultimately all work together effectively to benefit staff and volunteers (and ultimately patients/families) at Ashgate.

“Rebekah is a very dynamic, knowledgeable and innovative line manager, always thinking outside the box and always looking to support the team’s wellbeing. She has a great energy and outlook and is very rational and reasoned in her thinking. She respects our autonomy and encourages it and is inspiring in how she leads the team and new concepts and processes across Ashgate. A very good real-life example of a radically kind person!”

“Rebekah is a great role model who embodies Ashgate’s values. Rebekah is inspirational because she constantly and constructively pushes at and tests the boundaries of the status quo to improve how and what we do. This is how we disrupt ‘the usual’ and effect positive change. Rebekah knows that we don’t need permission to do the right thing and I love that.”