My 5 role models… with Karen Dobres

For the next article in our role models series, Totally Runable’s Natalie Jackson spoke to Karen Dobres, Director of Lewes Football Club. Lewes FC is the first (and currently only) football club in the world to dedicate equal resources to its men’s and women’s teams. Karen was also a model and counsellor, having run Polygram records’ in-house counselling programme in her pre-Lewes FC life.

1) Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer

“Zandra booked me for my very first modelling show. She is a fashion icon, but what made her a role model to me was that she was always so kind. Her good friend Nigel taught this young, gawky model how to walk on the catwalk, the day after Zandra booked me and the day before the show! In my early modelling career in the 1990s, other designers treated models like pieces of meat, but Zandra always had a cup of tea and a sandwich waiting for me at fittings, and always made sure I was alright. In a world that could be void of human feeling she showed real kindness, which for me is what being a human being is all about.”

2. Viv Groskop, writer, broadcaster, and comedian

“I love Viv’s podcast, ‘How to Own the Room’. She interviews public speakers; authors, activists, actors, and other interesting women, and she has such clarity; no airs and graces. She stops the interview sometimes to talk to the listeners and say, “that was a great point and here’s why” or “what she was saying was this… you might want to write that down”. As a listener it feels like we’re all learning together; a sisterhood, breaking new ground, with women having only recently been public speakers. I get so much from her and from her podcast.”

3. Layla F Saad, author, and activist

“Having read ‘Me and White Supremacy’ and heard Layla speak, I love the way she expresses herself. A large part of my Lewes FC role is as an activist, and Layla’s advice for activists is to ‘check in’ with and look after ourselves. The work we do as activists is draining and can be triggering, and we need to make space to gather ourselves. Inspiring others is wonderful, but what Layla encourages us to do is to find our own inspiration, whether that is being quiet, or relaxing in our own ways. Layla herself is strong, thoughtful, and reflective, and I find her very inspiring.”

4. Judy Murray, tennis legend, and Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, models

“This might seem like a strange group, but I’m always inspired by women who take up space well, and have good boundaries, which all three of these women do so well.

I love the way that Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell take up space. They are bold; when they fail, they get straight back up again. They are sassy and they aren’t afraid to ‘strut their stuff’.

Judy Murray is such an inspiration, particularly in the way she has raised her sons. She is a proud owner of Lewes FC, but she isn’t an ambassador for the club. When I asked her to be an ambassador, at a visit to the Dripping Pan (Lewes FC’s ground), she told me about a conversation she’d had with another tennis legend Billy Jean King about the importance of women saying no to things, even those that they really want to do but need to say no to. I so respected her for having those boundaries, and I hope I can do the same in my own life.”

5. Kelly Lindsey, Lewes FC’s Head of Performance

“I aspire, daily, to unleash my inner Kelly Lindsey. She has such a great American way of being confident, funny, and engaging to work with. She makes me laugh, and she often uses her own experience to empower others. She doesn’t hide her emotions when she speaks; she isn’t afraid to cry in public if she feels emotional, or to get angry about things she feels cross about. As a British woman, with the social restrictions that can put on us, it is so refreshing to work with someone like Kelly, and I’m learning so much from being on the same team as her.”

Be a part of the movement. You can own a piece of history, and activism, by becoming a shareholder of Lewes FC (just like our Director and Co-Founder Natalie Jackson). Go to to find out more and become an owner.