Editor's View: The ordinary young woman who is the very definition of inspirational

There are many names that come to mind when you think of inspirational women.

Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 7:29 am

There are many names that come to mind when you think of inspirational women.

Chantelle Gautier is unlikely to be at the top of your list.

But read today’s front page and two-page feature on this hitherto relatively anonymous young woman and you are likely to change your mind.

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Her’s is a horror story turned almost fairy story.It’s a tale of triumphing over both evil and adversity.

Chantelle could quite easily allowed herself to be defined as a victim; instead she is the heroine in her own life story.

Six years ago she was an innocent young woman who fell prey to a rapist. The horror of the attack and its aftermath threatened to engulf her, as well it might.

She hit rock bottom and could see no way out, no future.

What a depressing picture for a young woman not yet into her 20s. This is the time of life when optimism reigns, when life is an adventure to be lived to the full.

Not so for Chanelle, locked into a downward spiral.

And then she decided to take control, be the msitress of her own destiny, to call the shots herself.

That one act meant that the rapist really had not won.

Chantelle turned to the Prince’s Trust for support. With some coaching in putting together a CV and interview techniques, plus some work experience, Chanelle was ready to forge her own path.

The modest young woman credits the charity, which does sterling work with disadvantaged young people, with saving her life.

While not decrying the very positive impact the charity has had, Chantelle underestimates how much a part her own inner strength and resilience has paid in her creating a new life for herself. To paraphrase the late US First Lady Nancy Reagan “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.”

Chantelle is now an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, and a very effective one she will be too.

Young people will be able to identify with the struggles Chantelle has had with self-esteem and confidence.

They will also relate to her life now; hers is not the story of a would-be celebrity who got lucky thanks to a reality TV show. She is leading an ordinary life, holding down an ordinary job, just like they’d like to. In doing so, and in making her story public in The Star and through her ambassadorial role, she is displaying remarkable dignity and courage.

Inspirational is a label too readily bandied about these days.

But it is a label that Chantelle Gautier truly deserves.