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Rowena Harker Leder

Rowena Harker Leder is a former 'au pair' in France, Las Vegas Showgirl, International Air Stewardess, Artistic Director of Grassington Festival for 18 years, and Concerts Secretary of Skipton. Now a public speaker, she is recognised as one of the most entertaining raconteurs on the circuit today.


About Rowena Harker Leder

Rowena Harker Leder began her life of international travel working as an au-pair in Paris, which included her becoming a Bluebell Girl at the world famous Lido in Paris.


Rowena Harker Leder was born in Grassington, a small village in the Yorkshire Dales and from 8 years old knew she would have to see the whole wide world. All her above experiences came about because of this longing to travel.

She went to Las Vegas with the Bluebell Girls from the Lido de Paris and opened the first show at the newly built Stardust Hotel in 1958. She stayed for a year and 10 days and returned home.

Within 3 weeks she had a phone call from Paris asking her to join a show going to Beirut with the Doriss Girls. The show stayed for 11 months. With still the rest of the world to see she became an air stewardess and flew for 10 years with BOAC.

In the ’60’s there were two glamorous jobs – being a model or being an air stewardess – this was the golden days of flying taking 26 days to go round the world so plenty of time to absorb countries and cultures and with a boyfriend in every port – life was just how she wanted it to be.

Because of discrimination against women she was forced to retire at 36 so decided to get married.

She married an American and lived in New York for 2 years then became pregnant and had to return home to Grassington and London. ‘I couldn’t have given birth without the nurses having a Yorkshire accent’ she clearly stated.

Returning home permanently with husband and and young son, after 18 years travelling, seemed strange but then the Grassington Festival needed an Artistic Director in 1988 and this was ‘a job made in heaven’ for her. At this time she was also Concerts Secretary for Skipton Music Society, a post she held for 28 years developing her epiphany of love for classical music. She was awarded an MBE in 2005 for ‘Services to Music in North Yorkshire’.

Rowena is a highly professional speaker and maintains that when addressing an audience, no matter how large or small, one is in show business and should entertain to the maximum.

She has been dubbed ‘ a performance speaker’ and her love of life and and sparkling personality come through consistently in all of her talks.

Speech Topics


Rowena’s first Talk is about her days as a Bluebell Girl in Las Vegas in 1958 when she went with the famous troupe of dancers from the Lido de Paris to open the Stardust Hotel – the first European show ever to go to America. She lived there for one year and her talk gives an insight into early Las Vegas and includes some blatant name dropping such as Frank Sinatra, David Niven etc etc. but all told with great humour, verve and panache.

(an alternative title”Why I refused a Date with Cary Grant! )

In 1961 Rowena became an international air stewardess with BOAC (now BA) and flew for the ten years of the Swinging Sixties living close to the Kings Road, Chelsea. She was a lead player in helping to make the Sixties Swing! This Talk tells of life as it really was, not only in London but around the world and includes comments about fashion, music and the many famous people she met –  Cary Grant is featured strongly!
Becoming the Artistic Director in 1987 of the Grassington Festival was a ‘job made in heaven’ for Rowena and her previous life’s experiences paid dividends. She booked such artists as Julian Lloyd Webber, Pam Ayres, Ken Dodd, Elke Brooks, Kate Adie, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, John Lill to appear plus hundreds more. This Talk is anecdotal and hilarious, as well as having a poignant and profound moment. She finishes with  ‘meeting the Queen’ and a Bluebell style high kick which always brings the house down.
Booking Information


"...made so memorable. We even had members ringing up to say how much they had enjoyed it, most unusual"

Ripon Women's Luncheon Club

"I have been inundated with complimentary comments from our members regarding your talk. You certainly awoke many happy memories of those youthful days in the '60's for everyone present"

Darlington Luncheon Club

"I could have listened forever, I didn't want you to stop"



Rowena Harker Leder News

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