Singing, sand and sisters in Florida

I have just spent a couple of days in Naples, Florida, as the first part of the fantastic St Mary’s Calne Chamber Choir tour of the State. You can follow them via their website –, and if you are in Florida in the next few days, come and hear them! Make an effort – it will be worth it!

The weather is lovely, the people are enormously welcoming, and the singing is just amazing – it is so uplifting to be at the heart of this experience. With the schedule as full as it is, however, my time for writing blogs is limited, and so I shall merely point you in the direction of a fascinating woman about whom I have been reading since arriving in the Sunshine State. Everywhere I go, I seek out stories of interesting women, as I firmly believe that it is through hearing their stories that we – and most importantly, our young people – learn and absorb more about our social history and how the perceptions and roles of women have changed in recent times and are changing still … but still have some way yet to change.

Today’s story is about a woman called Doris Reynolds, 86, who is Naples’ official historian, and feted as having had a hugely successful career. She was, however, born into poverty and abuse, and it was the power of education – learning to read – which freed her from this. A simple but clear message to remind us all – read about her here.

In the meantime, I am off to celebrate more of the achievements of the next generation of women, watching and listening to the girls of St Mary’s Calne in their phenomenal performances. This is a tremendous experience.

Oh, and the beaches are fabulous too …

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