For most of my life my passion and reason for getting up in the morning was my involvement in rugby league. As a twelve-year-old girl I use to eat, sleep and drink rugby league. My desire for watching the game instigated a lifelong involvement in the sport. At aged seventeen I became the first female to referee men’s rugby league in the UK and Australia, reaching international honours. I coached, played and volunteered then eventually became one of the first females to be a rugby league development officer. I worked my way through the hierarchy in rugby league for over 20 years eventually becoming a Director at the Rugby Football League. I have a play written about my refereeing journey which has toured twice, and we are in the process of securing further funding for another UK tour.
From as early as I can remember I had dark thoughts, the self-loathing and lack of respect for myself lead to risky behaviour, poor choices, unhealthy friendship groups and a damaging relationship with alcohol.
Things came to a head in my mid to late thirties I struggled with a fight with depression which I could only describe as sitting on a Yorkshire Moor in a thick black fog. Life and work carried on around me as I struggled to function. My true friends stayed with me and I sought help which got to the root cause of my deep-seated unhappiness.
We identified that the source was the early trauma of my dad dying in a fatal car accident when I was aged three.
Talking to my counsellor, family and close friends I began to unpick the trauma in my early life and taught myself how to forgive myself and others.
My life has run on parallel lines with the external success of a strong and successful woman and my own internal representation which has plagued me throughout the journey.
My resilience, coping strategies and the ability to still succeed is truly amazing. My desire to help others has taken me on a journey to understand myself. I now have the tools, knowledge and coping strategies to deal with the tough times. I firmly believe that my passion for rugby league, although sometimes destructive, along with the resilience skills my mum demonstrated throughout her life was at the source of my survival.
It made me tick, it gave me a reason for living and was the difference which made the difference.