BEST BEFORE: ‘The Times Young Power List’ made me cry

by Isabelle Proctor | May 2, 2024

Scrolling through depressing articles about members of the Garrick Club, and why being thinner makes women richer, I burst into tears. ‘The Times Young Power List’ had interrupted my scrolling. Celebrating “hard work and ingenuity,” the profiles of 25 inspirational young people (under-30s) struck a chord with the crippling worry I’ve been experiencing as each new rejection email pings into my inbox. I never want to read ‘Unfortunately’ ever again. And this article is blissfully lacking in ‘unfortunatelys’. It is also an antidote to the irrelevance of Cherwell’s upcoming BNOC list.


Reading about Joe Seddon, who actually did something productive with the “social-mobility guilt” he felt whilst studying at Oxford, I couldn’t help but think I really should stop playing my tiny violin. Maybe I should start building an app like Zero Gravity. Leo Reich’s comedy career is a nice story and James Dacombe’s journey from building apps and websites for fun (starting to feel like the universe is telling me something) to developing a patch which monitors brain signals was inspiring. The article recalls the racist abuse that Rashford, Sancho, and Saka faced after the Euro 2020 final, and just how resilient Bukayo Saka has been, achieving the accolade of the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year in 2023. Reading about Jamie Chadwick being the only woman to win a Formula 3 race and Ahana Banerjee founding an app for tracking your skincare, my laptop screen started to go fuzzy. Banerjee is quoted advising readers to “learn how to code. It empowers you with the autonomy to bring your ideas to life.” I went to wipe my glasses and realised I was crying.


There are so many pictures of successful women on the list, so many women who were once little girls reading lists like this about successful men.


I never knew that Leah Williamson was born with inward-facing toes, but I can hear the parents screaming “Get the girl!” as she played on an all-boys team against another all-boys team, the memory later recounted in her book, You Have the Power. Leah Williamson is the only person who has ever made me think that accepting an OBE isn’t an act of supporting neo-colonialism. Instead, the photos of her at Windsor Castle with her family holding her honour fill me with hope. When the Lionesses won the Euros in 2022, I discovered feeling emotional whilst watching sport. Despite knowing nothing about sports injuries, I scoured her Instagram like a madwoman for ACL recovery updates. It’s thanks to the awareness raised by the likes of Williamson, Beth Mead, Chloe Kelly, Gabby George, Jordan Nobbs (the list goes on) about the much higher instances of ACL injuries among women that studies like Project ACL are being funded. Even Leah Williamson’s Dyson adverts make me teary. I swear, I don’t cry all the time—my Mancunian father raised me to bury most of my emotions. I’m just having a rebellious phase.


Reading Ambika Mod candidly tell The Times: “If I were a Shakespearean hero, my tragic flaw would be ambition” brings a lump in my throat. Her portrayal of Shruti in the BBC’s This Is Going to Hurt was devastating and beautiful. Playing Emma in Netflix’s One Day, she brought out the cringing insecurity and pretentiousness of being an English student so wonderfully that at 3am, whilst I fell apart during the last episode, I alarmed my boyfriend with the no-context text: “No more cycling, promise me”. But Ambika Mod well and truly broke my heart when she told Glamour: “Growing up I didn’t see myself on screen and that was a massive part of me not seeing myself in certain rooms or not thinking I deserve certain things…I just didn’t see myself as a romantic lead.”


Luke Littler, 17, English darts player, provides light relief as I recall how all my friends suddenly revealed themselves to be lifelong darts enthusiasts when he became famous last winter. Oxford’s own Grace Beverley makes the list and although just watching her ‘days in the life’—let alone buying one of her planners—makes me feel inadequate and exhausted, she discusses the lack of venture funding for women with HM Treasury. I’ll be honest, I don’t even fully understand what exactly ‘venture funding’ is but I do know that she’s advocating for women and that’s beautiful enough. Sharing her discussions with the Economic Secretary on TikTok, Beverley explains some of the reasons why venture funding for women is important. As Beverley puts it, “we know that women put women in leadership positions, we know that women pay women more.” Her words have become a mantra in my head.


I’ll be the first to admit I’m very sentimental at the moment, weeping when I run out of pesto or pasta. Maybe it was the Women’s Dinner which set me off, a hall full of women, celebrating being women in a college which didn’t admit women until 1985 (I’m sure you can guess which). Our Women’s Officer said a few words and I had to use my napkin as a tissue.


I now exclusively wear waterproof mascara. And though ‘The Times Young Power List’ isn’t able to stop the never-ending flow of rejection emails; and although the biggest takeaway seems to be that we should all become sportspeople or build an app, it made me cry in a happy way. Once I had finished drying my eyes, I realised the Young Power List was compiled and written by women. Hannah Swerling, Katie Tarrant, Louise Eccles, and Sharin Hussain, I love you.

Words by Isabelle Proctor. Graphic by Alice Robey-Cave.