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We are two women in progress, Nicky and Laura.  Just making it all up as we go along, and not pretending to do otherwise. 

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Woman in Progress: Rachael Marsh, Ickle Pickles charity

Woman in Progress: Rachael Marsh, Ickle Pickles charity

Rachael, Andy and their two boys

Rachael, Andy and their two boys

Our next Woman in Progress, Rachael Marsh, is the co-founder of the Ickle Pickle charity which raises funds to support sick and premature babies by purchasing vital life saving equipment for neonatal units around the country.

The charity was established in April 2009 following the premature birth of Rachael's son Charlie at 28 weeks in March 2008.  He spent 3 months in the neonatal unit and today is a healthy and happy little boy who charms everyone he meets.  Having decided to raise some money for the unit where Charlie was treated, Rachael and her husband Andrew found that there wasn't a charity they could raise the funds through.  So they decided to set up a charity which to date has raised over £1.7 million and have donated equipment to hospitals across the country.  We're thrilled she's taken the time to answer our questions.

Woman in Progress Rachael Marsh Ickle Pickles Charity founder

What’s the one thing in your life that makes things easier?

The ability to work from home. Working pretty much full-time and juggling the school run and after school activities for 2 energetic boys is only possible because I manage my own hours and don’t have to hop on a tube or train to commute into an office.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Cuddles. The boys are aged 9 and 7 and very loving and always happy to have some cuddle time. I realise this won’t last (although Thomas aged 7 in all his wisdom assures me it will), but for now I’m loving it.

What’s one thing that you would stop if you could?

Worrying. I seem to be a self confessed worrier.  I remind myself that I can’t change the big stuff and the small stuff is usually not so bad.  I tell myself that life is too short to worry - but it’s hard, I think it’s in my genes!

What one piece of advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?

Ask for help when you need it, other people are usually happy to help if they can. Running a charity and organising events means lots of requests for helpfrom people either volunteering some time, donating a prize or sponsoring a challenge.  I don’t like asking but tell myself - ‘what’s the worst that can happen - they can say no’ - if they do you just pick yourself up and move on.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

Keep on loving life and experience the world.  Myself and my now hubby went travelling 15 years ago for 11 months and had an amazing time and have so many treasured memories and plan to keep visiting exciting places with the kids in tow.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at work?

An immediate response is not always the best response, take time to think things through.  I come from a supplier background in a previous work life and always felt pressured to respond to emails and requests immediately which wasn’t always the best tack, so now I think more about the response and send it when I’m sure it is right.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at home?

Appreciate what you have as there’s always someone out there who would love to have the life you do.  I am blessed to have a loving, healthy family and nothing can beat that - we just need to remind ourselves of it every now and then!

Did you expect to be doing what you're doing right now?

No!  Bizarrely in my early working years I thought about working in an overseas ‘orphanage' to try and make a difference to children with very little chance in life. That didn’t ever morph into anything more than a pipe dream but as a result of Charlie being born so prematurely and the charity being set up I suppose we are helping lots of children in their time of need, just a different type of help on a different continent…

What top tip would you pass on to other women in progress reading this?

Believe in yourself and your ability to make a difference.  I had no experience of the Charity sector or fundraising but by using skills from previous careers and a passion for the cause I’m part of a team now that makes a difference.  'Small Babies: Big Difference’ is our motto.

Are you done yet?  What’s next?

The aim is to keep growing the charity, recruit more volunteer Ambassadors around the country to help support more Neonatal Units. There are plenty out there who need support in these tough times.

If you're interested in finding out more about Ickle Pickles do check out their website, or keep up to date on Facebook or Twitter.   

Ickle Pickles raises money for neonatal units at events across the country

Ickle Pickles raises money for neonatal units at events across the country

The Ickle Pickles annual ball

The Ickle Pickles annual ball

Ickle Pickles raises money for the sickest, smallest babies

Ickle Pickles raises money for the sickest, smallest babies

Me and my slogan T's

Me and my slogan T's

Don't worry, be app-y: my favourite apps for children

Don't worry, be app-y: my favourite apps for children