Made in Oxfordshire
Name: Janice Meek
Lived in: Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
What has she done?
Inspirational speaker. Mother. Adventurer. Business Owner. Mayor. World Record Holder. The list goes on, but these are just a few of the many roles Janice Meek has undertaken and excelled in. Though she is not Oxford born and bred, she has had her time in the Shire and made her mark along the way.
Meek’s career began in the film and TV industry where she worked as a continuity girl alongside stars such as Roger Moore, Sammy Davies Jr and Ian McShane. However, after briefly living in Saudi Arabia with her family she returned to the UK and settled in Chipping Norton and set herself up as a businesswoman, opening and running both a children’s boutique and a local restaurant and bar. Her entrepreneurial spirit was quickly spotted and before long had been headhunted to join the Heart of England Training and Enterprise Council (TEC).
Not one to sit still for long, Meek threw herself into the local community, becoming not only the first female chairperson of Chipping Norton Chamber of Commerce but also a Town Councillor and finally Mayor. With the loss of her second husband in 1993, Meek made yet another life-altering decision when she decided to attend the University of Taiwan at the age of 50 to study Mandarin. And it was then, as she backpacked across China, that she began the next, and possibly most exciting, chapter of her life.
At the age of 53, for instance, she and her son embarked on a 3,000 mile rowing race across the Atlantic, sailing for 100 days in a boat aptly named Carpe Diem, from Tenerife to Barbados. And indeed, the completion of the race saw them row into the Guinness World Records, breaking not just one but two records as the first mother and son team to row any ocean and for Meek at 53, the oldest person - at that time - to row any ocean.
Not that her adventures stopped there. In 2007 she invited her son along again to join her in walking to the North Pole and scored yet another milestone by becoming the oldest woman to reach the Pole on foot.
Meek’s achievements have, not surprisingly, made her an icon for female adventurers all over the world. So much so in fact that she now spends her time inspiring others to take on challenges they never thought possible, using her charity, The Carpe Diem foundation, to fund their expeditions.