Maidenhead charity CEO features in national businesswoman project

Michelle Vickers

A UNIQUE project has been celebrating female entrepreneurs up and down the country — and a local resident found herself included in the campaign.

Michelle Vickers, CEO of the Head & Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) was featured in the #SheCan365 project last year.

The campaign tells the stories of 365 female businesswomen over 365 days and in exactly 365 words.

It was founded by Helen Pritchard, an online marketing specialist, and it began on International Women’s Day in 2019.

“I am so honoured to have been chosen to be included in the project, which is a world first,” Ms Vickers said.

“All of the women who have been selected are absolutely amazing, so I’m extremely proud to have taken part.”

She was selected for the project because of her work raising awareness of and implementing revolutionary head and neck cancer treatments as CEO of the HNCF.

“At the HNCF, we work extremely hard to raise awareness of oral cancer, and to also raise funding for life-changing treatments,” Ms Vickers explained.

“We are pioneering a treatment at the moment called Sentinel Node Biopsy which could massively improve patient quality of life, and we are also supporting NHS hospitals across the country in training and using this new treatment.”

According to Ms Vickers, more than 8,000 people a year are diagnosed with oral cancer.

So, she with the team at the HNCF are trying to raise awareness about potential symptoms too, encouraging people to detect cancer early by conducting regular mouth checks.

Ms Vickers became the charity’s CEO in 2017, and has been working in the non-profit sector for 20 years.

“I’ve mainly worked in the sports sector in the past, but as I got older, I decided I want to do something that matters. I want to feel like I’m making a difference,” she said.

“When you meet people who have been impacted by oral cancer, it just breaks your heart.

“Being part of this charity is the most amazing, and rewarding, thing I have ever done.”

And the CEO is not only honoured to have been selected for the #SheCan365 project, but is proud to be able to represent mixed race businesswomen, too.

“Being able to represent older, mixed race women is so important to me,” she said.

“The entire project is so full of diversity, so to be part of that was an absolute honour.

“It’s really important to see women, not just hear about them, but actually see them in action, being entrepreneurs and continuing to live their lives on the side.”

Ms Vickers added: “As women, we need to hold doors open for those who come after us.

“This whole book is full of women who aren’t just bosses — they are leaders.”

The #SheCan365 campaign has since raised more than £9,500 through crowdfunding, allowing the collection of stories to be published in a book.

Speaking about the project, founder Helen Pritchard said: “The book is about the nature of women who commit to showing up every single day, 365 days a year, and what can be achieved when success is a decision. I am so proud of all our contributors.

“This is the boldest and most ambitious project I’ve ever challenged someone to do, and I’m super excited for the next phase of evolution for #SheCan365.”

To find out more about the HNCF and what Ms Vickers and her team are currently working on, visit: hncf.org.uk

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