Buckinghamshire Memorial Service for her Majesty The Queen

“It was a privilege and an honour to attend the memorial service for Her Majesty The Queen as a recipient of The Queen’s Award for Innovation 2021 and as a Buckinghamshire Swan Envoy, representing great entrepreneurship and outstanding growth in my new home country.

The Queen will always have a special place in my heart, and despite having only been in England for the past 15 years of her long service, I too have felt the immense change and profound impact in the life we lead. I admire her sense of duty, honour and dedication enormously, and will continue to strive to do my best every day.”

Angela Spang attends Buckinghamshire County Memorial Service for Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II on Sept 18th 2022

Lonely? Well…

“It’s windy up here.”

I turned to my left. An old woman stood beside me, gazing out over the water. She looked familiar somehow, but I didn’t have time to place her before she spoke again, softly: “And lonely.”

All of a sudden I felt tears burning in my eyes, and I couldn’t speak.

She is me.

Years from now, I will be standing there, looking at the water. I will be proud, pleased with what I have done. I will feel accomplished, appreciated, grateful, honoured….and I will be looking into the distance with that same knowledgeable look in my eyes.

I can feel it already: the wind is getting more powerful. It pulls my, pushes me around. It tries to get me off balance, tries to distract me from what I want to do. It has been playful up until now, but recently…it is changing tone. Up here is …intimidating. Not threatening (few things scare me), but harsher, sharper. Not nice.

I am higher up now, and I am less sheltered. I am more visible, more exposed. I am a target. and that leads to a question: Do I back down? Do I take shelter? Do I retreat?

I turn to tell her that I know what she means, but there is nobody there. I am alone.

It is windy, but I knew it would be.
It is lonely, but I brought friends.

Buckle up if you want to take me for a ride, because nothing scares me. I’ve already been through rougher weather than anyone can ever imagine.

5 weeks of sandy toes

I have been gone for 5 weeks. Very Swedish, my summer holiday (pretty much everyone takes 4 weeks off in July. Great concept: since everyone is off at the same time, nobody comes back to a mountain of work!)

Let me share why that is SO important.

From top to toe:
Head: 2 weeks do nothing for my mind. It still buzzes with what is going on, and doesn’t slow down a bit. a month like this, when the biggest challenge is how to stay upright on the SUP or what to order form the menu…THAT is a different level of recovery and rest.

Neck: I can turn! Left AND right, without wincing in pain.

Heart: Filled to the brim with family, laughter, joy and sunshine.

Tummy: also filled 🙂

Legs: Strong. Stronger than in a long time. Ready to take me new places, beyond where I have gone before, figuratively and literally. Also tanned 🙂

Feet: Feet are important to me, since my dancing days. I have spent enormous amount of time and effort on my feet (try a pointe shoe and you’ll know why). I will spend as much time as possible bare feet. I have rediscovered my love for beach walks, sand between toes and sun-bleached nail polish.

All in all, I have had a complete rest and restoration time. I didn’t realise how tired I was until now, when I am back at my desk with a new glow. I am SO EXCITED for what is happening now, and can’t wait to get going.

(and before someone starts to think it is easy to take off 5 weeks when you own the company; remember I’ve had 8 years of not being off AT ALL.)

Roe VS Wade feels….relevant.

I lost fifteen years of my youth, but survived. The harrowing story of a past I never wanted has been unknown to even my closest friends and family….until now. I can’t talk about it, so I wrote it down.

It isn’t what you see.
I know my story will shock a lot of people. I hope a lot of people will feel that they know me a little better, that perhaps decisions I make and choices I pursue make a little more sense now.

I want people to understand (or perhaps even to get inspiration from) is that if a broken young girl like me can be a strong, confident, happy, successful businesswoman, anyone can.

If you see me as a high-flying company owner who jets around the world with an amazing and loving husband and two smart, kind and inspirational children, and know the struggle that I went through to get there, then surely that is my legacy.

I am EVIDENCE that Where you come from doesn’t determine where you are going.

I wrote Outspoken about what I never told anyone. Until now.

With the current #roevswade discussing the rights to womens bodies, it feels important to share about what happened to me.

The Queen, Church and Shrimp

I don’t believe in God. (sorry). But I went to church on Sunday, in a ceremony for Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II.

Having grown up in Sweden, church is a place you go to celebrate. I have never realised this until now, when discussing it with people who wonder why I would attend a church service if I am not religious. “Because it is about a celebration”, I reply. They look at me with scepticism.

It made me think.

In Sweden, the last day of the school year is a BIG DEAL. It is hugely celebrated, every year is an important milestone, and a loooooong summer (well…summer-ish…Sweden has a bit of an unpredictable summer weather thing going….) awaits, when EVERYONE is off (parents too!) for at least 4-5 weeks.

And that last day, “skolavslutning” is celebrated with parents, with a church ceremony where we sing about safe shrimp (internal joke with swedish people….”trygga rakan”!) and summer time. Children are all dressed in white, and then we have smorgostarta (sandwich cake).

So when I was invited by Buckinghamshire’s Lord-Lieutenant The Countess Howe to a Thanksgiving service for Her Majesty The Queen, I didn’t think twice. OF COURSE I will celebrate the most outstanding service and duty I have ever known. As an award-winning entrepreneur, I realise my work schedule is NOTHING compared to the woman who has been on duty for the past 70 years, and done a stellar job. I was honoured to attend and to show my appreciation and gratitude for the work and dedication of Her Majesty The Queen on her Platinum Jubilee.

This time, I didn’t wear white, but I did sing on the top of my lungs:

God Save The Queen.


Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe and Angela Spang at the Thanksgiving Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at All Saints Church 29 May 2022
Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe and Angela Spang at the Thanksgiving Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at All Saints Church 29 May 2022

I am a Swan Envoy

Press Release from Buckinghamshire Council 
12 May 2022 
Buckinghamshire’s Swan Envoys spread their wings at launch event 

The Buckinghamshire Swan Envoy Scheme officially launched at Pinewood Studios on Tuesday evening (10 May) with the first twelve Swan Envoys inaugurated into their new role.
From influential community leaders to much-loved local celebrities, each Buckinghamshire Swan Envoy has one thing in common – they are inspiring individuals who are committed to helping to promote Buckinghamshire as a great place to grow, live and work.
The new scheme, developed by Buckinghamshire Council in partnership with the Lord Lieutenancy, is designed to harness the influence and enthusiasm of the individual Swans to inspire and encourage others and create one powerful network of voices, working together with the council and its partners, to promote Buckinghamshire as a thriving and exciting county. 

The twelve new Swan Envoys are:
•	April Benson
•	Jane Campbell
•	Andy Collins
•	Keyaan Hameed
•	Karen Irons
•	Lorraine Kelly CBE
•	Sir David Lidington
•	Martin McElhatton OBE
•	Pauline Quirk
•	Alice Rose
•	John Shaw
•	Angela Spang

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council said: “I’m delighted to welcome our founding Swan Envoys. I would like to thank each and every one of them for their willingness to share what I know is some of their very valuable and limited time, to support, motivate and showcase the great people and communities that we have in our special county.

“We already know that Buckinghamshire is a great place for so many reasons, and together we can help spread that message and inspire and encourage everyone to believe in Buckinghamshire!”  

At the inauguration ceremony, the Swan Envoys were introduced by Martin Tett and Buckinghamshire Council Chief Executive, Rachael Shimmin. They were each presented with their personal Swan pin badge and a certificate by HM Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe.
Swan Envoys
April Benson
April Benson has been Chief Executive Officer of Aylesbury Women’s Aid since 2019,  providing inspiring leadership of the charity through the past two, very challenging, years. April established and delivered the Women’s Aid Freedom Programme locally and developed the Aylesbury Women’s Aid Relational Empowerment programme for teenage girls.
April was winner of the Community Impact Bucks Outstanding Leadership in the Women in Charity Awards 2021.

Jane Campbell
Jane Campbell is a successful Buckinghamshire businesswoman, Managing Director of a growing local firm, PCL Corporatewear.
In recognition of her unique leadership skills, Jane was named Business Leader of the Year at the Buckinghamshire Business Awards in 2017. She was also a Bucks Growth Champion in 2018 and a finalist for Businesswoman of the Year in the SME Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire awards in 2019.

Andy Collins 
Andy Collins is a comedian, television and radio presenter, and has been a warm-up act for many popular entertainment shows. More locally Andy is a well-known and much-loved stalwart of the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre pantomime.  Andy currently hosts the BBC Three Counties Radio breakfast show and is also a Bucks Herald columnist.

Keyaan Hameed 
Keyaan Hameed is a Street Hero and has been appointed as a youth ambassador for the One Can Trust.  Aged just 15, Keyaan founded his eco-friendly SOUP-a-CANdle business, upcycling old soup cans into candles, with the money raised donated to the One Can Trust.
He also set up ‘Take One or Leave One’ coat rails for people in need in High Wycombe and Aylesbury. Keyaan won the Proud of Bucks Young Community Hero award in 2021.

Karen Irons 
Karen Irons is Chief Executive Officer at Maytree Respite Centre. Karen uses her insight and experience to help charities develop their business & financial models. She is passionate about helping organisations to find solutions, unlock potential and develop new ideas.
Karen is a committed and active member of the Buckinghamshire community, being a trustee and board member of The Clare Foundation and a School Governor.

Lorraine Kelly CBE 
Lorraine Kelly trained as a journalist before moving successfully into a long-running television career. She also writes weekly columns for national media and is a published author.
Lorraine is a keen supporter of charities, taking part every year in the in the 26-mile breast cancer charity ‘Moonwalk’ and is a patron on Help for Heroes and the STV Children’s Appeal. In in 2012, Lorraine was awarded the OBE for services to charity and in 2020, received a CBE for services to broadcasting, journalism and charity.

Sir David Lidington
Sir David Lidington is a former Conservative MP who represented the constituency of Aylesbury from 1992 until 2019.
He has held a number of key positions both in opposition and in government including Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
In September 2019 Sir David received a knighthood for political and public service.

Martin McElhatton OBE 
Martin McElhatton is a wheelchair basketball Paralympian and Chief Executive of WheelPower, a charity which promotes sport and active lives for disabled people. Martin is a Board Member of LEAP, the Bucks & Milton Keynes Sport and Activity Partnership, and is a Trustee of National Paralympic Heritage Trust.
In 2020 Martin was awarded an OBE for services to disability sport.

Pauline Quirk 
Pauline Quirk is an award-winning actor and founder of the Pauline Quirk Academy, a performing arts school for children and young people.  Pauline has recently launched the ‘PQA Trust’ to help deprived children access performing arts training, to help build their confidence and learn skills for life.
Pauline supports a number of children’s charities, being an honorary member of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and a patron of the Rennie Grove Hospice.

Alice Rose 
During the Covid pandemic, at the age of 17, Alice Rose set up Alice's Positivity Boxes. Alice creates parcels of donated goodies and distributes them to young adults and teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues, those who are permanently in hospital or those who are underprivileged
Alice is also a trained mental health peer mentor and is actively involved in local mental health charities.

John Shaw
John Shaw co-founded and is Managing Director of the social enterprise, Chiltern Rangers. The organisation is a thriving local conservation community interest company which works with local communities to protect Buckinghamshire and Chiltern Hills.  His organisation provides a range of education and training opportunities for young people and works with schools on the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Angela Spang
Angela Spang is Chief Executive Officer of JUNE MEDICAL group. With over 25 years’ experience as a successful entrepreneur, Angela has a deep understanding of building successful businesses and operating across the globe.
Angela is known for being generous with her advice on all aspects of running a business.  In 2018, Angela was a Bucks Growth Champion and in 2021 was a recipient of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category.

By myself, in the shower.

I cried this morning. By myself, in the shower. I have done that for several days….

I know, I know….I have everything. I am a successful business owner, happily married with 2 amazing kids. I am a Queens Award winner, I have a great team, I am being appointed as a Buckinghamshire Swan Envoy next week. I have everything I could have ever dreamed of. It looks so easy, so amazing.

But I am heartbroken. I am so sad for the little girl who was brutally ripped from me. I am sad for the damage she sustained and the damage she imposed on others. I am sad for the years lost, and for the things she never got to experience. I am sad for the people she lost, and for the people she never found.

As I read my memoir that has just been delivered (only a few pages at a time because that’s all I can manage) I start to come to terms with my past.
I wrote the book to explain, and to say I’m sorry to everyone I hurt and to everyone I left behind in my quest to achieve, be seen and in my attempt to make up for the years that were stolen.

I wrote it to do clarify and apologize, but also to bring hope.

Remember; It is NOT where you come from; what matters most is where you are going. And only YOU will decide that.

With love/

The eBook version is here!

“I have such happy memories of being at the beach, by the water, I can’t help but smile when I reflect on it. And I find these memories make me laugh because of the pure joy that surrounds them. Our walks back from the beach, when we would finally call it a day, when it was finally time to leave and head back to our holiday home, would probably take 45 minutes. It’s probably more of a seven or eight minute walk (I have since tried this as an adult) but with three…”

My book is here!

It isn’t all happy, but I hope it will make you smile at times.

Let me know what you think!

“Creativity gets killed”

close up of human hand

When I consider all the organizations I have studied and worked with over the past 22 years, there can be no doubt: creativity gets killed much more often than it gets supported. For the most part, this isn’t because managers have a vendetta against creativity. On the contrary, most believe in the value of new and useful ideas. However, creativity is undermined unintentionally every day in work environments that were established—for entirely good reasons—to maximize business imperatives such as coordination, productivity, and control. This is even more true in the world of medicine; “untested” is a bad thing.

Surgeons cannot be expected to ignore the need for innovation and testing new things, of course. But in working healthcare systems built on established guidelines, safety first and indeed….adhering to the code of Do No Harm, we have designed organizations that systematically crush creativity.

What Is Business Creativity?

We tend to associate creativity with the arts and to think of it as the expression of highly original ideas. Think of how Pablo Picasso reinvented the conventions of painting or how William Faulkner redefined fiction. In business, originality isn’t enough. To be creative, an idea must also be appropriate—useful and actionable. It must somehow influence the way business gets done—by improving a product, for instance, or by opening up a new way to approach a process.

The associations made between creativity and artistic originality often lead to confusion about the appropriate place of creativity in business organizations. In meetings, I’ve asked other leaders if there is any place they don’t want creativity in their companies. About 80% of the time, they answer, “Accounting.” Creativity, we seem to believe, belongs just in marketing and R&D.

Building an innovation system can yield improvement ideas that reshape health care practices, but this rarely happen seamlessly. The following excerpt from the IHI Innovation System white paper presents five types of challenges inherent in most innovation systems and what IHI has learned about overcoming them.

5 Innovation Challenges and Tips for Overcoming Them (ihi.org)

Challenge Creates Innovation

Personally, I have a great example where the two worlds (my creativity and lust for problem solving vs the “we have always done it like this”) meet. Go back a couple of years, and enter St Mary’s Hospital in London, an old building that looks like it has secret corridors, hidden passages and at least 3 floors that nobody can seem to access. The staff room is a small room with a floor that leans to the east, with a view over London’s rooftops and chimneys. The only way I can ever find it (yet to this day) is through the back entrance spiral stone staircase, up, up, up…

Standing behind a surgeon learning about the challenges they meet on a daily basis (every patient is unique) is an option to not just learn, but also to innovate. For me, it is a unique situation: I am the only Medtech CEO in the world that has the background of a trained ballerina combined with a women’s health education learning  surgical  game changer TVT from the inventor Ulf Ulmsten himself. I watch how surgeons move, I understand anatomy in a different way, and I can mimic movements down to individual muscles. I am trained to memorize patterns, flow and rhythm. I physically flinch when a move looks awkward or strenuous, and I instinctively know how to fix it.

Watching a surgeon getting frustrated by trying to correctly position the frame and tighten a screw on an old blue plastic retractor sparked one of those moments in me, and I was trying to lighten the mood in the room by commenting: “Not a great design, that blue thing!” I was rewarded with a grin from the scrub nurse, and a smile from the surgeon, who quickly replied: “Let me guess, you make a better one?!”

“Not yet, but I bet I can!”

Nothing makes me more interested to do something than someone telling me I probably can’t. I have a long list of things I have done, purely because of a challenge. Fast forward a couple of years, and Galaxy II is now a global brand, sold in over 40 countries in a range of surgeries. We have launched the worlds first ever light attachment (again a challenge I needed to solve, this time from surgeons doing charity work in Africa and needing better intra cavity light) and won The Queens Award for Innovation in 2021.

Expertise and creative thinking are an individual’s raw materials—his or her natural resources, if you will. But a third factor—motivation—determines what people will actually do. The scientist can have outstanding educational credentials and a great facility in generating new perspectives to old problems. But if she lacks the motivation to do a particular job, she simply won’t do it; her expertise and creative thinking will either go untapped or be applied to something else. Read more about Creativity in this Harvard Business Review Article: How to Kill Creativity (hbr.org)

“Fans jävla förbannade skitstövel!”

yellow tassel

If I am REALLY angry, I always curse in Swedish.

Despite having lived and spoken English for over 15 years now (I dream and think in English, apart from when I talk about memories and things that are “stored” in Swedish), I swear in Swedish.

Profanity is experiencing a renaissance right now. A Profanaissance, if you will. There’s more swearing on television than ever before, and even cursing at work is considered acceptable in a lot of places these days (assuming you’re not swearing at someone). Increasingly they’re an integral part of almost everyone’s language.

Part of the reason for the increase in cussing is that psychologists keep finding benefits to swearing. An F-bomb can help you tolerate the pain you feel when you stub your toe. Repeating curse words when you’re performing an athletic feat can make you stronger. People who swear more even seem to lie less. Basically, swearing makes you a powerful human incapable of deception(!). It’s like a superpower!

Though swearing has a number of advantages, for me, doing it in English is disappointingly unsatisfying: since it is not my native tongue, it just doesn’t do the trick. Why? In part, the reason is obvious: if you weren’t taught growing up that a word is bad, then it won’t seem that bad to you. It’s like when a child runs around screaming the F-word because they recently learned it. They won’t realize why their parents are looking on in horror until they’re scolded. It is MUCH easier for me to use REALLY bad language in English than it ever can be using the equivalent in Swedish.

Studying Our Swearing Habits

Expletives seem to hold a very special place in the human mind. In one study, a patient had a severe case of aphasia — brain damage that causes someone to have difficulty with language — but he still had the ability to swear.

Another study looked specifically at swearing in other languages. The researchers had Polish students translate texts that were filled with curse words, both general swear words and ethnic slurs, to see how they would translate them. When they translated from English into their native Polish, they tended to tone down how offensive the words were. When the students translated in the other direction, they scaled their offensiveness up. If this teaches us anything, it’s that it may be ideal to avoid ethnic slurs in a new language (if that wasn’t already obvious).

I have a lust for dessert!

Straight translations can be both entertaining and dangerous… For example, one of the German equivalents of saying “I want to have dessert” would be Ich habe Lust auf Nachtisch, which literally translates back to “I have lust for dessert.” If a German were to say this to you in English, you might be a bit weirded out because “lust” has certain… connotations. Alternatively, the dessert may be of a different kind that you originally had in mind!

I have learnt to be more careful with swearing in other languages. If you’ve only learned a word by reading it, you might think it’s something light-hearted when it’s actually not. The French love to use “fuck” liberally because there’s some emotional distance there, which can cause English-speakers to recoil. I am always VERY entertained by watching the interactions!

Even within a language, there can be differences in swearing culture. The British use “cunt” with wild abandon, whereas in the United States, it is probably the most taboo word. I personally find it VERY offensive.  

Swear words are culturally constructed, so to use them well, we need to learn about the culture that uses them.

Or should we just stop swearing in every language to stay safe? But fy fan, how boring would THAT be?!