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10 Mins With

Helen Burness

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Who inspires/ inspired you and why?

For me, it’s what you might call ‘ordinary’ people that inspire me the most. Hardworking people who dedicate themselves to caring for others, especially those who are vulnerable. I think it is the most important job in the world and I want to shine a light on amazing carers everywhere, especially after this past year and a half on the front line.

Recently it’s been the English football team led by Gareth Southgate. The way they have role modelled throughout this year has been incredible. I am in absolute awe of their passion, their talent, their determination and how they use their platforms to tackle social issues. I think Gareth Southgate’s leadership has been exemplary. As someone who watched the notorious 1996 penalty shoot-out, I love this story arc and how he has used this experience to be such a strong leader for the team. He is honest, authentic and leads by example. Marcus Rashford is a shining example for young children – I bought his book on “How To Be A Champion” for my son…. But I think it is actually for me.

Finally, but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge (with my legal hat firmly on) Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, such a huge inspiration for all she did for gender equality during her time in office.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice given to you?

To always look to work with people I like and respect. It sounds so simple, but it’s also so easy to forget. The other piece of advice would be to think about the legacy you want to leave. This has inspired me to do more than just the day job, and look to use professional privilege around other issues that impact the legal profession, such as equality and inclusion.

If you were not in your current position, what would you have liked to have done?

I actually had a very real dream to be an actress! My TikTok content highlights this if you’ve ever seen it. The reality was that the talent and competition was unreal and I wasn’t actually that good at the serious stuff – I mainly liked to partake in comedy (also – see my TikTok). Away from acting, I would also still love to write a book… You can probably tell that I’m basically a frustrated artist at heart!

Oh, the other dream I have is that I would also quite like to own my own vineyard and make nice wine. I don’t know much about the process at the moment, but I feel certain I could figure it out?

What three items would you put on display in a museum of your life?

This is such a great question! An old 1980s cassette of one of my recordings of the Sunday chart show (this reference will be lost on so many.) A photo of me, my husband and the kids. A glass of red wine.

What three guests would you invite to a dinner party?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) and French and Saunders. That would be such a fun dinner party! Maybe Ruth (Bader Ginsburg) could also join us….