The History of Follow The Women
The "Follow The Women" cycle ride is the brainchild of 2001 European Woman of the Year, Detta Regan. In April 2004 she gathered together 270 women from all over the world, including America, Palestine, Britain and Iraq, to ride bicycles for over 300 kilometres through Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to campaign for peace and an end to violence in the region.
"We were told that we would not be able to do it because women do not ride bicycles in the Middle East." says Detta "They said that the men would throw stones at us and it was too dangerous. That just made us more determined to do it. To show the women in the region that we were not afraid and that we stood with them. In the end the men were giving us flowers and holding out their babies for us to kiss."
Detta started her professional career as a firewoman but she has since set the world alight with her determination to work for peace in the Middle East and around the world.
Next she worked as an air traffic controller where she learnt how to deal with many different problems at once in a stressful environment, but nothing prepared her for working with children! She became a youth worker 28 years ago and influenced many lives with her enthusiasm and energy. She travelled the world during her 23 years as an International Youth Worker meeting many people and creating a network of contacts. For 15 years she encouraged and trained others to do the same work and helped to mould many young minds.
During her adventures she became involved in many projects from saving monkeys to sending bicycles to an orphanage in Kenya. It was during her visits to the Middle East that she became involved with women and children of the region.
A desire grew to do something' to help to improve the lives of the people that she met and it was during a conversation over dinner one evening in 2002 that the idea for FOLLOW THE WOMEN was born. Detta wanted to visit Lebanon and Syria but, as keen cyclist, she also wanted to ride her bicycle in these countries. When it was pointed out to her that women did not cycle in these regions she realised that this would be an ideal way to drawn attention to the plight of women and children in the Middle East.
She persuaded a few friends to join her and word spread thanks to her network of contacts and the positive energy of women around the world. Just one woman's idea is now spreading across the globe and beginning to change the world.
Detta was awarded
UK Woman of Europe, 2001
International Woman of Europe Award, 2002
Nobel Peace prize nomination [1000 women], 2004
Detta lives in Reading in the UK and is mother to two daughters, Pippa and Becky who support her and accompany her on the FOLLOW THE WOMEN rides.