We are delighted to announce that Lady Louise Vaughan is our new Chair

Lady Louise Vaughan is taking over from Catherine Roe, Chief Executive Officer of contract catering company Elior, as Chair of the organisation.

Granddaughter of our founder, Lady Lothian, Louise is the founder of property company FG Consultants.

We are all hugely grateful to Catherine for steering WoY so successfully during her three-year term as Chair and congratulations Louise!

We look forward to continuing to celebrate and honour the most outstanding women across all fields of life and work.

Photograph by Alex Bramall

2020

Women of the Year Awards celebrates inspirational women from the fields of health, tech and music in a unique virtual afternoon tea event that paid tribute to key workers and NHS staff.

Women of the Year hosted their 66th annual event online, to recognise and celebrate 400 women from across the UK who have achieved remarkable things this year. The event champions women from all walks of life and each guest is nominated by a member of the Women of the Year Council in recognition of her personal achievement or inspiration and attends the gathering as a ‘Woman of the Year’.

Five of these outstanding women were honoured with Women of the Year Awards for their selfless dedication to their fields of work. Special honours went to:

  • Sylvia Mac, burns survivor and body confidence activist;
  • Poppy Gustafsson OBE, cyber-security CEO;
  • Adwoa Dickson and the Amies Freedom Choir;
  • Julie Budge, domestic abuse activist;
  • and Joan Armatrading CBE, legendary British musician.

The event was hosted by celebrated actor, comedian and TV presenter Mel Giedroyc, and awards were presented by TV presenter Lorraine Kelly CBE, actor Georgina Campbell, and actor and presenter Tamzin Outhwaite in a small pre-recorded studio setup at Anna Valley Studios in Feltham in October.

400 women tuned in for the virtual celebration this afternoon, joining together for an Afternoon Tea and honouring the achievements of so many. 200 years after Florence Nightingale’s birth, 2020 has proven to be the ‘Year of the Nurse’ in more ways than one, and Women of the Year paid tribute to key workers, charity workers and NHS staff who have had to work so hard to keep us going through the pandemic, many of whom joined this afternoon.

Notable figures who joined the tea included Julie Bailey CBE, Cure the NHS; Dame Carol Black, Adviser to NHSI and PHE on Health and Work; Dame Louise Casey, Chair of the Institute for Global Homelessness; Manjit Darby, Director of Nursing; Lizzy Hall, Founder of The Hygiene Bank; Dr Jennifer Harries OBE, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Social Care; Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing; Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England; Julie Platten, Chair, Critical Care Networks National Nurse Leads and Gillian Prager, President of the Nightingale Fellowship.

Other high profile figures joining the afternoon’s celebration included Sonita Alleyne OBE, Master of Jesus College Cambridge; Edith Bowman, broadcaster; Vicky Featherstone Artistic Director, Royal Court Theatre; Celia Imrie, actor; Lynette Linton, Artistic Director, Bush Theatre; Abi Morgan, writer; Dame Esther Ranzen DBE, broadcaster and campaigner; Claire Teal, musician and broadcaster, and Charity Wakefield, actor.

Adwoa Dickson accepted the The Women of the Year Community Spirit Award, presented by Lorraine Kelly, for her work with Amies Freedom Choir. The unique choir aims to develop the musical and cultural awareness of young women who have survived trafficking, by exploring songs and musical styles from each others’ cultures and languages.

Adwoa Dickson said, “I am overjoyed that the women of the Amies Freedom Choir have won The Woman of the Year Community Spirit Award 2020. It pays great tribute to the resilience and determination of our participants who have overcome so many obstacles and despite facing such adversity, find the strength to build beautiful friendships by coming together to sing.”

Vodafone’s Woman of the Year Innovation Award was presented by last year’s winner Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, to Poppy Gustafsson OBE, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Darktrace. Darktrace is a cyber-security firm which provides governments and companies with tools to fight digital bad guys, many of whom work on behalf of hostile nations. The importance of Poppy’s work has been highlighted this year, with the pandemic raising the threat of cyber attacks to critical levels as remote workers are targeted by increasingly elaborate scams, and hackers preying on loneliness and desire for information.

Poppy Gustafsson said, “I am honoured to receive Vodafone’s Woman of the Year Technology and Innovation Award. The phenomenal success that Darktrace is experiencing is testament to the passion, fearlessness and hard work of our brilliant team of over 1,300 employees, which is over 40% female strong, as well as the world-class mathematicians behind our autonomous response technology. It is an honour every day to lead an organisation committed to solving the cyber challenge with cutting edge innovation.”

Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone UK said, “We were delighted to present the Women of Technology and Innovation Award to Poppy Gustafsson OBE. She is such an inspiring person and her work in cyber security – an area that has become so integral to businesses – is incredible. We hope Poppy’s success will inspire more women to pursue careers in this important area of technology.”

Founder and CEO of My Sisters’ House, Julie Budge accepted The Barclays Woman in the Community Award from actor Georgina Campbell. My Sisters’ House is a sanctuary for domestic abuse survivors and women’s support centre, embedded in the Bognor Regis community but working across the coastal area of West Sussex. As a result of the sharp rise in domestic abuse cases over lockdown, the work of organisations like My Sisters’ House is more vital than ever.

Julie Budge said “I am both honoured and proud to receive The Barclays Woman in the Community Award. It has been the most amazing journey so far from an idea around my kitchen table in 2014 to the Women’s Centre we have today. This would not have been achieved without all of the incredible women who have been part of our journey, either volunteering or working for us or indeed the 1,300 women who have accessed our centre. The need for our services is even more important today than ever before and it is vital that more women centres like ours exist in every town.”

Jes Staley, Barclays Group CEO said: “Gender equality is of upmost importance to all of us at Barclays and we are proud to be part of these awards which celebrate extraordinary women and their remarkable contributions to society. This is especially pertinent in a year where many have faced great hardship, and we applaud both this year’s winner, Julie Budge, and the outstanding nominees for their steadfast commitment to ensuring help reaches those most in need in our communities.”

Body-Equality Activist and Child burns survivor Sylvia Mac accepted the The Boots Wellness Warrior Award from Tamzin Outhwaite. As a child, Sylvia was burned and subsequently scarred down her back after falling into a bowl of boiling water – today, she campaigns to challenge the fashion industry, media and society to represent and accept people who look “different” through her ‘Love Disfigure’ work.

Sylvia Mac said, “I am proud and honoured to receive a The Boots Wellness Warrior, Woman Of The Year Award. I hope this award can show all those women who struggle with their mental health as I did for many years, that anything is achievable.”

Helen Normoyle, Boots UK Marketing Director and Women of the Year judging panellist said: “All of us at Boots are proud to champion the achievements of diverse real women and we are delighted to sponsor the Wellness Warrior Award for the second year in a row. Sylvia is hugely inspirational and her dedication to campaigning really stood out. We have offered Sylvia a mentorship and a day with our specialists in our inhouse content agency to help Sylvia to take Love Disfigure to the next level, and plan for how we work together in the future.”

Finally, the Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award 2020 went to British musical legend Joan Armatrading CBE. A three-time Grammy Award nominee, Armatrading has also been nominated twice for the Best Female Artist BRIT Award, and received an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection in 1996. In a recording career spanning nearly 50 years, Armatrading has released 19 studio albums, as well as several live albums and compilations.

Joan Armatrading said, “Thank you. I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to receive a lifetime achievement award from Women of the Year and I have to say yes, I was President of Women of the Year. It’s really an honour for me to accept this award because Tony Lothian was a visionary and she had the brilliant idea of honouring very ordinary women who have done extraordinary things. From founding the first children’s hospice, to making new laws that protect women and other people. From meeting somebody like Vera Lynn who had sung to the soldiers in the war and at 100 years old having a hit record. Who does that?! It’s an amazing organisation and I’m really proud to have been a part of it and to have been able to have been a part of highlighting some of the women that Women of the Year have shown to the world. So thank you very much. It is my pleasure to accept this. Thank you.”

 

2019

Celebrating women from across sport, health, science and wellness in our 65th Women of the Year Awards. 

Jasmin Paris, Ultra-runner; Dr Rola Hallam, founder of CanDo; Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Space Scientist and Science educator and Lizzy Hall, founder of The Hygiene Bank are among those honoured at the star-studded event. Guest of honour, Iraqi broadcaster Amal Al Mudarris also attended, alongside notable attendees including; Candice Carty-Williams, Charity Wakefield, Freya Allan, Julia Gillard, Malorie Blackman, Maureen Lipman, Mel Giedroyc, Monica Dolan, Lorraine Kelly, Noella Coursaris, Phyllis Logan, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Tracey Neville, Zoë Wanamaker and the Women of the Year president Julie Etchingham.

Barclays Sportswoman of the Year Award: Jasmin Paris, Ultra-runner

Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr Rola Hallam, Founder of CanDo

Woman of the Year Innovation Award, Sponsored by Vodafone: Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Space Scientist and Science educator

The Boots Wellness Warrior Award: Lizzy Hall, Founder, The Hygiene Bank

Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award: Natasha Benjamin

 

The 2019 Women of the Year Lunch and Awards took place today (Monday 14 October) at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, where more than 400 women were all recognised as ‘Women of the Year’ for their individual achievements this year. Five of these outstanding women were honoured with Women of the Year Awards for their selfless dedication to their fields of work. The event was hosted by celebrated TV presenter, actress and comedian Mel Giedroyc.

For more than sixty years, Women of the Year has recognised and celebrated the rich diversity of women from across the UK who have inspired us all. The event champions women from all walks of life and each guest is nominated by a member of the Women of the Year Council in recognition of her personal achievement or inspiration and attends the Lunch as a ‘Woman of the Year’.

Women of the Year president, Julie Etchingham hosted the group of over 400 women, specially selected for their resilience, resourcefulness, and selfless actions.

The Barclays Sportswoman of the Year Award was presented to Jasmin Paris. Jasmin this year completed the inspirational feat to become the first woman to win the gruelling 268 mile Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way. Jasmin shattered the course record by an astonishing 12 hours, whilst expressing breast milk for her baby at aid stations along the way. Alongside this incredibly feat, Jasmin has a full time career as a veterinarian and is completing a doctorate focused on acute myeloid leukaemia at the University of Edinburgh. The award was presented by former England Head Netball Coach, Tracey Neville.

Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Dr Rola Hallam, a British-Syrian consultant anesthetist and founder of CanDo, a social enterprise that allows humanitarians the opportunity to provide healthcare to countries in need. In December 2016, Rola and CanDo initiated the People’s Convoy with logistics partners, Across the Divide. They used crowdfunding to take enough medical supplies from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital London to Syria to open the world’s first crowdfunded hospital. The convoy was a monumental success and the initial target of £90,000 was surpassed raising in total £246,505 – enough to supply the hospital and run it for six months. Building on this success, CanDo launched a platform in 2017 to leverage the power of crowdfunding to help Syrian partners fundraise for their communities most in need in the region which Dr Hallam continues to lead today. The award was presented by Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

British author, TV presenter and space scientist, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock won the Woman of the Year Innovation Award, Sponsored by Vodafone, recognised for her unrelenting determination to be innovative and inspirational in the world of science education. Maggie is well known for her presenting the long-running astronomy television programme ‘The Sky at Night’ award and is recognised as a pioneering figure in communicating science to the public. She also owns Science Innovation Ltd., which engages children and adults children. The award was presented by Head Stemette Anne Marie Imafidon.

The Hygiene Bank founder, Lizzy Hall took home the Boots ‘Wellness Warrior’ Award. Lizzy founded The Hygiene Bank last summer when she realised her local food bank rarely received donations of hygiene products, despite a high demand and 80% of teachers reporting an increase in bullying in schools due to hygiene in the last five years. Many report having to intervene personally to help pupils buy essentials such as soap and toothpaste because they are coming to school unwashed and in dirty clothes. In the last year, The Hygiene Bank has become a registered charity, and has established nearly 400 drop off points across the country and delivered over 30,000kg of hygiene products. The award was presented by model and activist Noella Coursaris.

ITV Lorraine viewers voted for their Inspirational Woman of the Year by a telephone vote. The winner was Natasha Benjamin who was nominated for Free Your Mind, a child domestic violence and trauma support and awareness service. The service was born out of Natasha’s own experience with domestic violence as a child, and her desire to advocate for children who can be left out of the conversation around domestic violence. The service provides therapeutic support to children as well as training and workshops for schools and local authorities.

Lorraine Kelly was also honoured in celebration of her 35th year in broadcasting.  The ‘Woman of the Year’ Awards is an event which Lorraine and her ITV programme support annually.

Julie EtchinghamPresident of Women of the Year, said: “Since its inception, Women of the Year has proudly recognised and celebrated the achievements of some of the world’s most selfless women who have made a huge difference to people’s lives. Now, over sixty years on, we continue to shine a light on women whose commitment to their chosen field or cause is nothing short of inspiring. I am proud to honour each of this year’s winners for their ongoing determination and the positive impact they are making.”

Announcing our new ‘Wellness Warrior’ Award – Sponsored by Boots UK

Women of the Year announce Boots UK will sponsor new ‘Wellness Warrior’ Award championing those who improve the wellbeing of others

Women of the Year today announced leading retailer Boots UK will partner with them to sponsor a new ‘Wellness Warrior’ award category at this year’s Women of the Year Awards and Lunch. The Awards are an annual event that brings together and recognises women’s achievements across a diverse array of industries, including tech, sports, science and education. The Boots UK‘Wellness Warrior’ Award will celebrate women who dedicate themselves to improving the health and wellbeing of others; a natural fit for the Boots UK brand who champion women and wellness.

The Women of the Year Lunch was first established in 1955 and has grown to become a key calendar moment that celebrates trailblazing women and their selfless dedication to their fields of work. This year’s event will be held at the prestigious Royal Lancaster London hotel in October 2019 and promises to be an outstanding celebration of influential and inspiring women across a huge array of industries.

The brand new ‘Wellness Warrior’ Award will see Boots UK invite the public to have their say by voting for their suggested nominee; someone who is truly making a difference in a compassionate, brave or selfless way and dedicating themselves to improving the health and wellbeing of others. From 1st May 2019 until 19th June 2019, entries can be submitted via boots.com and through the Boots Health & Beauty digital magazine,  alongside an explanation that details who their candidate is and how they positively contribute to society. The selected ‘Wellbeing Warrior’ will be awarded at the Women of the Year Lunch in October, which is set to take place at Royal Lancaster London.

Last year’s Women of the Year event saw women who are making a mark on history awarded at the event, withDr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemette and Co-Founder of Stemettes, Jennifer Kehoe MBE, Winter Paralympians, andAndrea Smith, Founder of the ASD Academy, among those honoured. Familiar faces such as Presenter Claudia Winkleman, Presenter, Author and Podcaster Fearne Cotton and Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer were in attendance to lend their support.

Julie Etchingham,President of Women of the Yearsaid: “Women of the Year proudly shine a light on incredible women who have made a huge difference to people’s lives across the world. The introduction of the new Boots ‘Wellness Warrior’ award this year feels not only timely but a fantastic way to provide a platform to women who are truly making the world a better place.’’

Helen Normoyle, Boots UK Marketing Director and Women of the Year judging panellist said: “All of us at Boots are proud to champion women and we are delighted to sponsor the new Wellness Warrior Award. Boots has always had a strong heritage of supporting and celebrating real women and the Women of the Year ethos is closely aligned to ours – celebrating these women for who they are and honouring their achievements. We can’t wait to share the inspirational stories and would love you to nominate those that make a real difference.” 

Celebrating Trailblazing Women in Tech, Sports, Science & Education

Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemette and Co-Founder of Stemettes, Anne Norona, NHS Nurse and Carmel McConnell MBE, Founder of Magic Breakfast, Menna Fitzpatrick MBE & Jennifer Kehoe MBE, Winter Paralympians and Andrea Smith, Founder of the ASD Academy are among those honoured at the star-studded event. Celebrity attendees included; Claudia Winkleman, Rachel Shenton, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Laura Whitmore and many more.

Barclays Woman of the Year Award: Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemette and Co-Founder of Stemettes

Women of the Year Shine a Light Award: Anne Norona, NHS Nurse volunteering in Iraq

Women of the Year Campaigner Award Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company: Carmel McConnell MBE Founder of Magic Breakfast

Women of the Year Outstanding Achievement Award: Menna Fitzpatrick MBE & Jennifer Kehoe MBE

ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award: Andrea Smith, Founder of the ASD Academy

The 2018 Women of the Year Lunch and Awards took place today (Monday 15 October) at the InterContinental London Park Lane, where more than 400 women were recognised as ‘Women of Achievement’. Six of these outstanding women were honoured with Women of the Year Awards for their selfless dedication to their fields of work.

Women of the Year president, Julie Etchingham hosted the group of over 400 women, specially selected for their resilience, resourcefulness, and selfless actions.

The Barclays Women of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Co-Founder of Stemettes. Dr. Imafidon oversees the award-winning social enterprise for 15 to 21 year-old young women, inspiring the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics roles.

In under four years more than 13,000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe have attended Stemette experiences. As part of the initiative Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon has also co-founded Outbox Incubator, which is the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls. The award was presented by Natalie Dormer.

The Women of the Year Shine a Light Award was awarded to Anne Norona, an NHS Nurse volunteering in Iraq, working to protect and provide for the persecuted Yazidi women. Anne funds her trips to Iraq through the Botox injections she performs as a nurse. Through her fundraising, Anne has recently opened the first antenatal clinic in northern Iraq, since Isis struck the area four years ago as well as a child-friendly space to support the Isis survivors. Her award was presented by Kate Adie.

Author and campaigner, Carmel McConnell MBE won the Women of the Year Campaigner Award Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company, recognised for her unrelenting determination to provide free and healthy breakfasts to schools in disadvantaged areas across the country and in Scotland. These are schools with over 35% free school meals, where large numbers of pupils arrive too hungry to learn.

Carmel’s lobbying led to the National School Breakfast Programme, which will reach 1,775 new schools, and 150,000 hungry schoolchildren after launching in March this year, in partnership with Family Action. The two charities are working together to deliver the Department for Education’s new programme. The award was presented by Fearne Cotton.

Paralympic athletes Menna Fitzpatrick MBE and Jennifer Kehoe MBE took home the Women of the Year Outstanding Achievement Award for overcoming stereotypes and becoming Britain’s most successful female Winter Paralympians, winning four medals in 2018.

Jennifer is a serving soldier with the Royal Engineers, and is currently on a two year secondment from her military duties to allow her to work as Menna’s sighted guide. In addition to being a world renowed skier, Jennifer has sailed competitively, completed a tour of Afghanistan and won several medals competing for her country.

With five percent vision, Menna longed to become a gold-winning Olympian athlete at a young age, and quickly realised her ambition before the age of 21 at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Menna’s trophy case now holds two silver and one bronze medal from the same Winter Paralympics, plus a host of other awards from the World Cup and the World Championships.

Menna was born with congenital retinal folds. She has no vision in her left eye and limited sight in her right. Their awards were presented by Dame Katherine Grainger DBE and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE.

Andrea Smith was named as ITV Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award winner. Andrea was honoured for her work in setting up a football academy and youth club in September 2017 called the ASD Academy. The Academy is specifically set up for children who are on the autistic spectrum and teaches children with autism how to play football with the aim to get as many as possible to move into the standard teams. The award was presented by Lorraine Kelly.

Julie Etchingham, President of Women of the Year, said: “For over 60 years, Women of the Year has proudly recognised and celebrated the achievements of some of the world’s most incredible and bravest women.”

“Every one of the winners this year are making a mark on history through standing up for persecuted women, breaking the mould set for working women and selflessly dedicating their time make the world better. It is a truly remarkable event and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Sponsored by Barclays, Eli Lilly and Company, and ITV’s Lorraine, the event, which is in its 64th year was held at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Every woman who is invited to the event has achieved something extraordinary in whatever walk of life she comes from. The lunch is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their bravery, determination, compassion and success.

ITV Lorraine viewers voted for their Inspirational Woman of the Year by a telephone vote.

In addition, there were many familiar faces, with guests including Claudia Winkleman, Natalie Dormer, Victoria Coren-Mitchell, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Laura Whitmore, Jemima Khan, Mariella Frostrup, Tamzin Outhwaite, Julie Etchingham, Lorraine Kelly OBE, Meera Syal, Rachel Shenton, Amber Rudd MP, Debbie McGee and Denise Lewis MBE.

2018

Barclays Woman of the Year Award: Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemette and Co-Founder of Stemettes
Women of the Year Shine a Light Award: Anne Norona, NHS Nurse volunteering in Iraq
Women of the Year Campaigner Award Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company: Carmel McConnell MBE Founder of Magic Breakfast
Women of the Year Outstanding Achievement Award: Menna Fitzpatrick MBE & Jennifer Kehoe MBE
ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award: Andrea Smith, Founder of the ASD Academy

The 2018 Women of the Year Lunch and Awards took place on Monday 15 October at the InterContinental London Park Lane, where more than 400 women were recognised as ‘Women of Achievement’. Six of these outstanding women were honoured with Women of the Year Awards for their selfless dedication to their fields of work.

Women of the Year president, Julie Etchingham hosted the group of over 400 women, specially selected for their resilience, resourcefulness, and selfless actions.

The Barclays Women of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Co-Founder of Stemettes. Dr. Imafidon oversees the award-winning social enterprise for 15 to 21-year-old young women, inspiring the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics roles.

In under four years more than 13,000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe have attended Stemette experiences. As part of the initiative Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon has also co-founded Outbox Incubator, which is the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls. The award was presented by Natalie Dormer.

The Women of the Year Shine a Light Award was awarded to Anne Norona, an NHS Nurse volunteering in Iraq, working to protect and provide for the persecuted Yazidi women. Anne funds her trips to Iraq through the Botox injections she performs as a nurse. Through her fundraising, Anne has recently opened the first antenatal clinic in northern Iraq, since Isis struck the area four years ago as well as a child-friendly space to support the Isis survivors. Her award was presented by Kate Adie.

Author and campaigner, Carmel McConnell MBE won the Women of the Year Campaigner Award Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company, recognised for her unrelenting determination to provide free and healthy breakfasts to schools in disadvantaged areas across the country and in Scotland. These are schools with over 35% free school meals, where large numbers of pupils arrive too hungry to learn.

Carmel’s lobbying led to the National School Breakfast Programme, which will reach 1,775 new schools, and 150,000 hungry schoolchildren after launching in March this year, in partnership with Family Action. The two charities are working together to deliver the Department for Education’s new programme. The award was presented by Fearne Cotton.

Paralympic athletes Menna Fitzpatrick MBE and Jennifer Kehoe MBE took home the Women of the Year Outstanding Achievement Award for overcoming stereotypes and becoming Britain’s most successful female Winter Paralympians, winning four medals in 2018.

Jennifer is a serving soldier with the Royal Engineers, and is currently on a two-year secondment from her military duties to allow her to work as Menna’s sighted guide. In addition to being a world renowned skier, Jennifer has sailed competitively, completed a tour of Afghanistan and won several medals competing for her country.

With five percent vision, Menna longed to become a gold-winning Olympian athlete at a young age and quickly realised her ambition before the age of 21 at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Menna’s trophy case now holds two silver and one bronze medal from the same Winter Paralympics, plus a host of other awards from the World Cup and the World Championships.

Menna was born with congenital retinal folds. She has no vision in her left eye and limited sight in her right. Their awards were presented by Dame Katherine Grainger DBE and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE.

Andrea Smith was named as ITV Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award winner. Andrea was honoured for her work in setting up a football academy and youth club in September 2017 called the ASD Academy. The Academy is specifically set up for children who are on the autistic spectrum and teaches children with autism how to play football with the aim to get as many as possible to move into the standard teams. The award was presented by Lorraine Kelly.

Julie Etchingham, President of Women of the Year, said: “For over 60 years, Women of the Year has proudly recognised and celebrated the achievements of some of the world’s most incredible and bravest women.”

“Every one of the winners this year are making a mark on history through standing up for persecuted women, breaking the mould set for working women and selflessly dedicating their time make the world better. It is a truly remarkable event and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Sponsored by Barclays, Eli Lilly and Company, and ITV’s Lorraine, the event, which is in its 64th year was held at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Every woman who is invited to the event has achieved something extraordinary in whatever walk of life she comes from. The lunch is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their bravery, determination, compassion and success.

ITV Lorraine viewers voted for their Inspirational Woman of the Year by a telephone vote.

In addition, there were many familiar faces, with guests including Claudia Winkleman, Natalie Dormer, Victoria Coren-Mitchell, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Laura Whitmore, Jemima Khan, Mariella Frostrup, Tamzin Outhwaite, Julie Etchingham, Lorraine Kelly OBE, Meera Syal, Rachel Shenton, Amber Rudd MP, Debbie McGee and Denise Lewis MBE.

New team at the top for Women of the Year

Women of the Year have announced its new Chair, Catherine Roe (UK CEO of global foodservice firm Elior) and new President, ITV journalist and news anchor, Julie Etchingham.

Catherine Roe and Julie Etchingham are the new faces at the helm of Women of the Year, which for more than sixty years has celebrated women’s achievements, as a national charity (through the Women of the Year Foundation) and premier lunch event, to highlight women’s contributions in the UK and internationally.

Catherine and Julie take over from former chair Jane Luca, Director of Public Affairs at ITV and ex-president, Sandi Toksvig OBE, TV presenter and comedian.

Women of the Year was founded in 1955 by the late journalist Tony Lothian (Marchioness of Lothian) because she wanted to highlight and celebrate the many and varied achievements of women.

Since then, it has gone from strength to strength as a lunch and as a movement to promote women’s achievements. Each year, over 400 women are recognised at the annual Women of the Year lunch, attended in 2017 by Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, and which honoured, amongst others, Dany Cotton, London’s first female fire chief.

The lunch is supported by Barclays, the Prudential, Good Housekeeping and ITV’s Lorraine programme where the viewers of Lorraine Kelly’s popular morning show vote for their own ‘extraordinary ordinary’ winner. ‘Women of the Year’ also developed a charitable foundation, funding global projects to benefit women and has a thriving programme of events throughout the year.

The Women of the Year Lunch and Awards is one of the most significant gatherings of extraordinary women in the world. Strictly invitation only – every single guest is ‘handpicked’ in recognition of their personal contribution to society. From shepherdess to scientist, foster parent to foreign correspondent, activist to artist – being recognised as a ‘Woman of the Year’ is a unique accolade.

Of her new role, Julie said: “I’m delighted to take up the baton from Sandi Toksvig to become President of Women of the Year.  In a year which marks a 100 years since women got the vote, and with women’s voices being raised ever more loudly around the world in the bid for equality and fairness – there couldn’t be a more exciting time to do it. I’m determined that Women of the Year will allow those voices to ring out ever more clearly – and from women of every background in Britain.”

Chair, Catherine Roe, added: I am honoured and excited to take on chairing Women of the Year. The lunch is a very special event and the women who attend are incredible and inspiring. In chairing the management committee, I am also looking forward to working with volunteers who share a commitment to celebrating women’s achievements from all walks of life, something which is very important to me personally, particularly in providing the role models for young women just starting out to have no limits, that everything and anything is possible’.

The 2018 lunch is Monday 15 October at the InterContinental Hotel, Park Lane, London W1

Catch up on the fantastic speeches from the 2017 Lunch

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall speech transcript is
available via Clarence House twitter: https://twitter.com/ClarenceHouse

Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award:

Winner, Alex Eades said: “This is for my daughter Charlotte, she fought a long and hard battle and the last six weeks of her life took everything from her. She was paralysed, she lost the ability to walk and to talk. She finally gave in to her tumour on 5th February, she was told she was going to die that night and a subsequent three more times and she went on until 24th February. She was my best friend, this is for her.”


Good Housekeeping Women of the Year International Award: The White Helmets

Anna Nolan Director of the Syria Campaign: “The video we just watched is from Masaa, a volunteer from Aleppo. Before the revolution, Masaa was a student, now she is one of 375 volunteers saving lives in Syria. The White Helmets have asked me on their behalf to thank Women of the Year for this honour, and they’ve also asked me to share their motto with you all today. It’s taken from the Quran, and it says, ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity’. The White Helmets have saved more than 97,000 lives around the world. These brave women remind us that we’re all part of something greater. And even in the darkest of wars, love will always win.”


Prudential Women of the Year Leadership AwardDany Cotton

“Well, what a fabulous group of women in front of me. What an amazing, amazing lunch. I’m so very honoured to be given this award, and thank you so much to Women of the Year for honouring me in this way. This really, really isn’t about me, this is about the men and the women of the London Fire Brigade. This is about the most fabulous team that I have the most pride to lead. Every day I look at myself and I am just so lucky to be the commissioner of the London Fire Brigade.

And whilst this year has been a really tough year, it’s not a year you’d pick to start your new job. Things kept happening, and then some more things happened, and you start thinking to yourself, ‘when will it ever be normal’, and I think now is normal. This is the future we have but the men and women of our emergency services are absolutely fabulous. We go running into situations that other people would run away from.

One of the things I have launched today is a new campaign called Firefighting Sexism, and it’s a simple campaign, it’s just about challenging people to stop using the word firemen. I’ve been so inspired to be here and I feel so very honoured to be here.”


Barclays Women of the Year Award: Manchester Emergency and Medical Services

Jane Luca, Chair of the Women of the Year: “As a Mancunian, I am not surprised to hear so many stories of strong women. After all, Manchester was the birth place of the woman who changed all our lives, she was of course, Emmeline Pankhurst.

Having recognised the work of the fire services, it is only right that we recognise the tens of thousands of women working in our other emergency services. So we have asked some of the women who responded to the Manchester bombing to accept our award on behalf of each and every woman serving in our Police, Ambulance and Health services up and down the United Kingdom.”

2017

THE WOMEN OF THE YEAR AWARDS PAY TRIBUTE TO EMERGENCY AND MEDICAL SERVICES HERE AND ABROAD

Manchester Emergency and Medical Services, The White Helmets and the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, are among those honoured at the star-studded event, which was attended by The Duchess of Cornwall

Barclays Women of the Year Award: Women of the Manchester Emergency and Medical Services
Prudential Women of the Year Leadership Award: Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade
Good Housekeeping Women of the Year International Award: The White Helmets
ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award: Alex Eades

The 2017 Women of the Year Awards pay tribute to the emergency response teams, both here and abroad. During the ceremony and lunch at the InterContinental London Hotel, Mayfair, the winners were recognised for their selfless professionalism and heroism.

Women of the Year president, Sandi Toksvig hosted a group of 400 specially invited women, all honoured as a ‘2017 Woman of Achievement;’ who were selected for their resilience, resourcefulness, and selfless actions.

The Barclays Women of the Year Award was presented to Naomi Davis, Constable Debbie Ford, PC Lauren Moore, Cath Daley, Vicky Wijeratne, Laura Prescott, Lea Vaughan and Shoba Manesh on behalf of the Manchester Emergency and Medical Services. When the bomb exploded in the Manchester Arena the women of the Emergency and Medical Services immediately galvanised into action. Everybody, from ordinary citizens to members of the emergency services and health care professionals behaved in ways that were way beyond the call of duty.

These women have been chosen by their own organisations to accept the award on behalf of each and every woman serving in our police, ambulance and health services up and down the United Kingdom. The award was presented by The Duchess of Cornwall.

Prudential Women of the Year Leadership Award was awarded to the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, in recognition of her incredible bravery and skill within hugely challenging circumstances, especially in recent times. Her positivity and openness when she talked about her own mental health challenges were very aspirational and has resulted in many more men and women feeling able to talk about their own issues.
The award was presented by Julie Etchingham, presenter and reporter for ITV News.

The world-renowned volunteer search and rescue group, The White Helmets won the Good Housekeeping Women of the Year International Award, recognised for their unrelenting determination to helping those injured in wars and conflict situations. The heroic women, who are trained in medical care as well as search and rescue work and have so far helped thousands of survivors of the Syrian Civil War. The award was collected on behalf of the White Helmets by Anna Nolan, Director of The Syria Campaign.

Alex Eades was named as ITV Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award winner. Alex tragically lost her daughter to brain cancer when she was just 19 years old, and has since set up charity Charlotte’s BAG, which raises funds for research into the rare cancer that killed her daughter. The award was presented by Christine Lampard.

Sandi Toksvig, President of Women of the Year, said:

“For over 60 years, Women of the Year has proudly recognised and celebrated the achievements of some of the world’s most incredible and bravest women. These women range from the super famous to unsung heroines who are the backbones of charities, emergency and medical services, industries and indeed every profession possible. The remarkable women who make up the attendees and winners at this year’s Lunch are being recognised for their work making the world a better place.”

Jane Luca, Chair of Women of the Year, adds:

“I am extremely proud of the 2017 Women of the Year Award winners and all 400 women of achievement who joined us today. This year’s ceremony recognised and celebrated the bravery of women from our emergency, medical and rescue services both in the UK and internationally in what has been a challenging year. The stories of their heroism are endless.

As I step down and look back on my four years as Chair of Women of the Year, I am very proud that we have continued to shine a light on extraordinary and amazing women and this year is no exception.”

Sponsored by Barclays, Prudential, Good Housekeeping and ITV’s Lorraine, the event, which is in its 62nd year was held at the Intercontinental London Park Lane. Every woman who is invited to the event has achieved something extraordinary in whatever walk of life she comes from. The lunch is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their bravery, determination, compassion and success.

ITV Lorraine viewers voted for their Inspirational Woman of the Year by a telephone vote.

In addition, there were many familiar faces, with guests including Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, Arlene Phillips CBE, Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE, Billie Piper, Christine Lampard, Esther Rantzen DBE, Eve Pollard OBE, Julie Etchingham, Karren Brady CBE, Kathy Lette, Lliana Bird, Louise Minchin, Meera Syal, Prue Leith, Ronke Phillips, Sandi Toksvig OBE, Shirley Ballas, Sophie Ward and Sue MacGregor CBE.

Women of the Year Discussed in Parliament

Valerie Vaz: 

“Finally, it was great to attend the Women of the Year lunch last Monday with other Hon. Members. The winners of the awards are truly deserving. The leadership award went to Dany Cotton, the first female commissioner of the London fire brigade, for her leadership in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. The international award went to the White Helmets, as a favoured charity of our dear colleague Jo Cox. It says: “To save one life is to save all humanity”.

The main award went to the women of the emergency and medical services following the Manchester bombing—doctors, nurses, paramedics, the deputy chief constable and community police officers. I know the whole House will join me in acknowledging the work that those women have done in difficult times, as we all work towards a more equal society.”

Andrea Leadsom:

“May I start by absolutely sharing in the hon. Lady’s praise for all those amazing women who won awards in the Women of the Year award ceremony this week? Our thanks and gratitude go to all those who contributed in the response to the appalling Grenfell Tower tragedy and those who rushed out to help after the Manchester bombing. I completely share her awe at what they have achieved.”