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International Women’s Day: Our Sisters

8th March 2016
By Guest Author
Signing copies of her new book, “Let it Go”

On the 23rd February we were honoured to welcome Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, a British information technology pioneer, businesswoman and philanthropist as our latest speaker.

The Science Council named Dame Stephanie as one of the “Top 100 practising scientists” in the UK and she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dame Stephanie arrived in Britain as a five-year-old on the Kinderstransport in 1939. In 1962, she founded a software company, F. I. Group PLC. Early in her career she found it advantageous to go by the name “Steve” in a male-dominated business world and she employed only women until the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal to do so. She retired in 1993 to concentrate on philanthropic work, since then she has given away at least £67 million of the estimated £150 million wealth she built after selling her IT firm. She continues to give to a range of causes including autism research, a cause she was drawn to through her late son Giles who had autism.

As it is International Women’s Day today, we hope you will join us for an inspirational journey through Dame Stephanie’s life and career. But before you watch her talk, we encourage you to read this poem crafted by Priscilla Silcock*, after being so inspired by Dame’s words.


Our Sisters

Let grief be her final
Expression of love
O angels, free swiftly
The heart’s aching tug

In stoic resilience
She fought to survive
With proud inclination
Our sisters now thrive

Adopted and cherished
To cherish she sought
So tenderly nurturing
As nurturers’ taught

Though toughest of obstacles
Dogged her steep path
She conquered each challenge
As dawn conquers dark

A Goddess with backbone
The fight so divine
Free her heart to prosper
For her heart’s like mine

For Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirely
Priscilla ‘Sapphira’ Silcock



* Priscilla Silcock is a singer/songwriter and burlesque artist called Sapphira. Recovering from a severe bi-polar episode she reinvented herself on the London cabaret circuit over 10 years ago.  Founder of the burlesque academy, Sapphira’s Showgirls, her goal is empowering women’s self-expression. She supports charities Beyond Blue, Red Cross and St Mungo’s Broadway. Her students have appeared on Australia’s Got Talent, met the famous artist Charles Billich, been featured in a calendar presented to Dita Von Teese, achieved 2 World Records, opened major sporting events and toured from Australia to England. By day she works for Palgrave Macmillan in International Higher Education. With an unreleased album up her sleeve she is in London seeking a break in the entertainment industry and to meet her business idol, Sir Richard Branson.

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