Mind Matters-5th March 2020

Date: Thursday 5th March 2020
Time: Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7.45pm start
Venue: St. James Court, A Taj Hotel, 54 Buckingham Gate London, SW1E 6AF

Our speakers share their experiences of matters of the mind; from restoring and maintaining good mental health and well being to creating a positive mindset, building resilience and strength to achieve great physical feats along with other mind matters because mind, matters.



Neev Spencer

Neev Spencer is a TV and radio broadcaster best known for her award-winning shows on KISS FM. She’s one of the UK’s most loved broadcast personalities and the first British Asian to cross over into mainstream radio with great success.

One of the industry’s most bookable names, she’s toured the world at major venues and events supporting the likes of David Guetta and Hardwell. She’s performed and; hosted for Nike, Adidas, Selfridges, Smirnoff, London Fashion Week, Red Bull, Nokia, Grazia and Cosmopolitan Magazine – to name a few.

In 2014, Neev turned her attention to TV, writing comedy, and performing and appearing as a reg- ular guest in several UK TV shows, including Channel 5’s Most Shocking Moments, When Talent TV Goes Wrong, and Big Brother’s Bit on the side.

Alongside Radio and TV work, Neev is a proud ambassador for five charities, including The Prince’s Trust and Global Citizen. She recently hosted the Teenage Cancer Trust’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall and the Iftar Mental Health Fundraiser at Kensington Palace, as well as the UK’s first ever Global Citizen Live event. She chaired a debate on youth violence at Google HQ with HRH the Prince of Wales. Supporting good mental health is a subject Neev is very passionate about. In 2017, she appeared as an expert panellist on BBC 5 Live’s ‘Mental Health Mum Takeover’, hosted the Maternal Mental Health Awards, and made a film about her own experience of post-natal de- pression for Heads Together. She has has addressed MPs, spearheaded the radio industry’s hugely effective Mental Health Minute. This was an unprecedented event, which saw 300 stations coming together to raise awareness and also hosted backstage at Music 4 Mental Health, interviewing celebrities such as Ed Sheeran, Ella Eyre and Olly Murs. She hosts monthly Facebook Live sessions about mental health and wellbeing for the Prince’s Trust, a concept she created, and is currently undergoing training to become the first celebrity Shout Crisis Text Line counsellor with Mental Health Innovations.

Neev has become known as a broadcaster who isn’t afraid to tackle challenging topics. She has a remarkably honest and genuine interview style that inspires people across all different backgrounds to open up, whether members of the public, Hollywood stars, or members of the royal family.

Returning to speak to us as a mum of two, Neev will share her thoughts and experiences on her own journey

Leah Chowdhry

Leah Chowdhry

Leah is the first British Asian Woman to swim the English Channel

A gruelling feat of 30 miles in cold water for 15 hours. A triumph in physical strength, stamina, mental strength, resilience, perseverance and determination. More people have climbed Mount Everest than they have swam from England to France. For some, the threat of hypothermia and even death would put them off, but Leah pushed on.

Following the swim, Leah has given talks at schools sharing her story on how she motivated herself to keep going. She champions a positive mind-set and reflection as a means to finding success in anything you want to achieve.

Leah has single handily raised £175,000 for charities and runs an award-winning business ‘Pop up, Party & Play’.

Pop Up, Party & Play hold workshops with children from disadvantaged backgrounds using the framework developed after she swam the English Channel to help them achieve anything. Additionally, providing pro bono consulting to a number of childcare providers, helping them offer the highest quality childcare and ensuring they adhere to OFSTED regulations and standards.

Dedicating most of her life to helping children, she was named the Women of the Year and Most Inspirational Young Person 2019. Mostly recently been honoured with The British Citizenship Medal joining an exclusive group of 400 people throughout the UK for her contribution to the community.


Monty Panesar

Monty Panesar is an International cricketer and one of England’s finest spin bowlers. He is the first ever Sikh to play for his country. He has taken over 700 first-class wickets during his career, which included spells with Northants, Sussex and Essex. He was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, where he lives with his dog, Rambo.

He has been open in talking about his mental health experience, with feelings of paranoia and anxiety that came after a loss of confidence.

Monty is an author and his book “The Full Monty” is out now.


Running Order for the event:

6.30pm – 7.45pm Doors Open for networking
7.30pm – Canapés Served
8.00pm  – Welcome address by Reena Ranger
8.05pm – Address by Neev Spencer
8.15pm – Address by Leah Chowdhry
8.25pm – Address by Monty Panesar
8.35pm – Q&A session with panel of speakers
8.55pm – Closing address and vote of thanks
9pm -10pm – Dinner and Networking


Returning to speak to the Women Empowered community as a mum of two, Neev Spencer, best known for her award-winning shows on KISS FM, shared the journey that she had been on with regards to experiences of matters of the mind. She was joined by Leah Chowdhry, the first British Asian Woman to swim the English Channel, a gruelling feat of 30 miles in cold water for 15 hours, a true triumph in physical strength, stamina, mental strength, resilience, perseverance and determination. The final speaker to share the male perspective was an international cricketer and one of England’s finest spin bowlers, Monty Panesar. The theme of Mind Matters, was shared by the three speakers to a full room of WE attendees at the Taj Hotel, Buckingham Gate.

Neev Spencer spoke openly about the changes in her life over the last four years, the change in herself from having been highly career focused TV and radio personality to her new ambitions today as a mental health campaigner and mother of two.

She spoke about building mental resilience throughout her younger years and how it was put under strain at the height of her career when trying to start a family, something that was a long and difficult journey that took many years and heartbreak along the way.  She spoke honestly about the impact of a difficult conception journey on her pregnancy, she was at high anxiety throughout and combined with some necessary surgery soon after her baby was born, took her into a dark time. Her light was found through her faith, her faith that no matter how hard things were for her at that moment, there was a plan, and no matter how hard it was, it was part of her path and she had to get through it.  That mindset helped her overcome her dark times and she started her journey for mental health campaigning for women and maternal mental health. She has been involved with the Heads Together campaign and has spoken candidly with the Duchess of Cambridge on her maternal mental health journey. She spoke of the vital support that is needed for maternal mental health to help those mothers and provide understanding and help.

Neev reflected upon her second pregnancy and how it was different from her first. She saw the people who she needed to be and feel supported and in control, allowing her to feel the joy and not be anxious.  She spoke about doing whatever one can do to arm themselves with all the information, resources and knowledge they need to help them get through or remove the elements of anxiety as far as possible. She asked the audience to measure success for yourself and your personal journey, not by anyone else’s yardstick. She went on to tell them not to fall for cultural, social or other pressures and ignore comparisons; ignore the “could’ve, should’ve, would’ves” and its ok not to be ok.

Leah Chowdhry spoke about the irony of how she achieved her dream, talking about mind matters for something she managed to achieve with her body. She spoke about the risks of such a task, the possibility of hypothermia and even death. After taking a 10-year break from swimming and not being an endurance swimmer herself, she took on 15 hours of non-stop swimming with no human contact and hundreds and hundreds of jelly fish bites, with one jelly fish stuck to her for over five minutes.

She spoke of the hurdles to even prepare for the physical feat, the mental adjustments she had to make as she trained her body and she had to also train her mind.  This mental training came from focusing and reminding herself of the “why” she was taking on such a task. Forever changed by poverty she saw in India as a little girl, and the images she witnessed of women and children forced to work in a brothel, broken and living in sub-human conditions. She knew she wanted to do whatever she could to alleviate some of this. Her second motivation was when her father was diagnosed with leukaemia; she wanted to raise funds to do all that she could do to help to fight cancer.

She spoke of how she visualised and planned the “how” and even despite all her mindset preparation, she found herself hitting a wall. A conversation with her mother, a personal development coach, didn’t provide the answer she wanted, but the one she needed. Her mother talked her through and reminded her to take her mind back to the why and how, and through the power of positive “Disney” tune songs as affirmations, she broke through the wall and went on to complete the challenge and raised £155,000 for both charities! Leah reminded us that for physical feats, mind matters and as we train our bodies, we must prepare our minds for the task to come.

The male perspective of the event was delivered by, Monty Panesar who was open and spoke frankly about the start of his career and the new heights he quickly reached. Fame came quickly and his popularity grew fast and his whole trajectory was on the up. Success kept on coming and at that time he couldn’t imagine any downside. He spoke of a sudden brick wall he unexpectedly hit and how simple daily tasks became huge feats to overcome. He regrets turning to alcohol to help with his mood and low feelings and how his behaviours became challenging for himself, his friends and his family.  An article he was being interviewed for made him face some of his feelings because he had to talk about them for the piece being written; it was then he knew something wasn’t right and that he needed to seek help. When exploring his own feelings, he was acutely aware of the lack of conversation about mental health in the Asian community and it was a taboo for males to admit they felt their mental health was suffering. He spoke passionately about talking to people, from friends to neighbours or religious leaders, wherever that conversation can be had, he urged people to have it.

Monty reminded people of the sometimes-tragic circumstances and situations that poor mental health and well being can lead to. Monty spoke of the new mindset that opened to him when talking to people and how he took that new view into all that he then went on to do. He reaffirmed his message that loneliness needs to be combated to promote good mental health and urged people to reach out to ask anyone you feel is in a dark place, how they are and urge them to talk and remind them that they are not alone.

Women Empowered is a social initiative run by volunteers and events as this, hope to help those listening to fine commonality, resonance and provide lessons for others to learn from and apply to their circumstance as appropriate.

Photos from Left to Right
1. Reena Ranger welcoming guests to the event
2. Neev Spencer addressing the guests
3. Leah Chowdhry addressing the guests
4. Monty Panesar addressing the guests
5. Q&A Session
6. Q&A Session
7. Guests at the event
8. (Back row L to R) WE team members Dhrupti, Kajal, Reena, Priti, Dee
(Front row L to R) Neev, Leah and Monty

Disclaimer: Speakers may change without prior notice. All partners at the event are individual third parties and personal due diligence should be done.
Women Empowered shall not take any responsibilities for any transactions done with any third party organisation.

Please Note: Photos and video recordings may be taken at this event and used on social media sites. Anyone that do not want to be included please let the organisers know.

Photographs from the event