I Am.............Sarah Jane Down

and I set-up and own LSL Liverpool Girls, I'm also a teacher. I've set up LSL Liverpool Girls because I want to create a unique and central platform for women to write, publicise their businesses, generate awareness, come together as a community through events and for women to benefit from discounts from Liverpool businesses.

This is about the only picture I have of myself, so apologies. I'm not one for having pictures taken of me!!! These are some of my sailing buddies, posing in a photo booth.

What are your views on feminism in the 21st Century and what does it mean to you?

To me it’s all about equal opportunities and being viewed as equal. We’ve all seen the pay gap and the ludicrous discrimination of women doing (exactly) the same job as men, getting paid substantially less for it and the access to certain jobs, which have traditionally been male dominated. That’s got to stop. Hopefully with STEM and seeing positive female role-models in these fields it will encourage girls to be fighter pilots, firefighters and the like. I'm not the type of women that doesn't like to have a door opened for her, gallantry to me will always be important and that’s not saying that I can’t do it, it’s just very courteous of men to do so and shows a good upbringing and ability to act politely and positively, something sadly lacking these days.

Which women/woman inspire(s) you and why?

This is quite a tough question and one that I when I added it to this feature thought would be really easy to answer. I've always admired women who come from nothing and become successful through their own hardwork and determination, Janet Street-Porter is one of those women; straight-talking, able to listen and appreciate others comments, but most all succeeded in the male dominated world of journalism and media (when she entered it).

If you could meet any woman who would it be and why?

I would have loved to meet Jackie Kennedy, what a life she had; just to sit down and have a conversation with her about that life. She was such a breath of fresh air in the 1960's, even though she was in her early 30's. I loved her fashion sense, her intelligence, the way she dealt with the assassination of JFK, something you'd never forget and her love of New York, thanks to her campaigning, Grand Central Terminal is there for all to visit today, it was going to be demolished. She had such tragedy in her life, but she kept going and in the end found happiness.

If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you like to change in the world today?

I am an absolute nut for wildlife, it’s conservation and protection, but most of all supporting organisations that deal with the abuse of animals. It never ceases to amaze me how horrible some human beings can be towards animals, both wild and domestic. I have a particular love of elephants, cetacea (whales and dolphins) primates because of their intelligence, yet the abuse the face at the hands of humans is unbelievable. I struggle with the concept of zoo's, I’ve not been into one since the late 1980’s. I’d love to see aquariums housing cetaceans closed down. Rehabilitation has been proven, the opportunity to put these back into the wild is there and should be done.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

From a very young age all I wanted to be was a nurse and that stayed with me right up until I was 16 years old, I woke up one morning and didn’t want to do that job. I then moved on to being in the military police and then went off that idea on to the Diplomatic Service, I ended up becoming a teacher!!!

If you had to give your younger self one bit of advice, what would it be?

I’ve always been shy, lacking in confidence and have allowed people to put me down subliminally and I think, well actually know, that it has had an affect on everything throughout my life, more professionally, than personally, but both; that was until I went sailing. I came back, thought about what I’d achieved, the adversity faced, how I’d come through it, and when I thought about all the people, (who I'd allowed to make me feel less than who I actually was) I knew they could never achieve what I had, let alone have the confidence to do it in the first place. From that point on, I've stood up for myself, been far stronger and held my ground; better late than never, I say. So, I would say to my younger self, you can be who you want, when and how you want (as long as you put the hard work in) and don’t let other people tell you otherwise and dictate the person they want you to be, that’s advice I now I give to my students.

What book are you currently reading? And what is your favourite book?

I’ve got two books on the go at the moment, ‘Target Alex Cross’, by James Patterson and ‘Hope Never Dies’, by Andrew Shaffer. The former is a cop thriller from a series of books, this one is searching for Americas most wanted criminal; the latter is about Barack Obama and Joe Biden after the 2016 election becoming amateur sleuths.

Probably my favourite book is by Barack Obama, called, ‘The Audacity of Hope’. I first read this before he came President of the United States. Probably like a lot of people, Barack Obama represented a new beginning, opportunity to a lot of people in America and beyond, he was almost the new JFK. It was an absolutely fascintating read and I was absorbed from the very start. I was lucky enough to go to a rally in Florida and listened to him speak, prior to his successful bid for The White House. At the same rally Bill Clinton took to the platform, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to both of them and a once in a life-time experience.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Full fat mayonnaise!! I absolutely love the stuff and would be a life-saver if I got stranded on desert island, it would go with anything caught and cooked!! I'd even be tempted for a jar to go into my coffin.

What’s on your bucket list to do and why?

I’ve got so many things that I’d love to do, but possibly the one thing at the top of my list would be to swim with (in a cage!!!) Great White Sharks. Having said that I’d make sure that I’d choose a business that does it correctly, without interfering with the environment, by chumming the water. Why? They’re just the most amazing animals and not what they’ve been made out to be. The worst story for their conservation has been the film, Jaws; even the author Peter Benchley regretted it and became an ardent conservationist and supporter of the Great White.

Where would you recommend dinner and drinks in Liverpool?

If you wanted to find me in Liverpool around lunchtime, the first place you’d try would be Bistro Franc. When I go out for lunch or dinner I’m usually really good at picking the wrong meal, but I absolutely love the food at Bistro Franc, having never had a bad meal there. I love the relaxed atmosphere and great service. Sitting next to the window is my favourite, gazing out and people watching. The other place I love and have to mention is, The Italian Club on Bold Street – fantastic Italian cuisine and a lovely relaxed atmosphere, it reminds me of a beautiful Italian we found in Mid-Town Manhattan. It had bi-fold doors, when opened allowed the tables to spill on to the street; the bar was enormous, with flower displays to match.

What is happiness to you.......

being content, enjoying the company of people, rather than possessions. I learnt this during my sailing trip. Crew were only allowed to take 20kg for the whole trip, we lived in very basic conditions, hot bunked; we slept, worked and ate, that was it. People were the most important part. It makes you realise how little you need in life to survive. I’m no longer materialistic, less orientated by money and don’t feel the need to impress.

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