» Con­test’s inspiring win­ners an­nounced

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Mil­lie REEVES gloslive­[email protected]­plc.com

THE West Women of the Year Awards pro­vided an em­pow­er­ing cel­e­bra­tion of women across the re­gion who have ex­celled in the fields of busi­ness, char­ity, sport, health and ed­u­ca­tion.

One hun­dred of the South West’s most in­spi­ra­tional women, along with their fam­i­lies and friends, packed out The Pas­sen­ger Shed at Bris­tol Temple Meads.

The event was the cul­mi­na­tion of a four-month cam­paign in which the Glouces­ter­shire Echo, Ci­ti­zen and our sis­ter papers across Bath and Somerset, asked read­ers and for­mer award re­cip­i­ents to nom­i­nate women they be­lieved were an in­spi­ra­tion to the com­mu­ni­ties they served.

Our judges then nar­rowed down en­tries to a list of 100, with the win­ners of eight spe­cial cat­e­gories re­vealed dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Most Inspiring Woman in the Char­i­ta­ble Sec­tor, sponsored by Natwest, was awarded to Hi­lary Rawles, of the Sui­cide Cri­sis Cen­tre in Glouces­ter­shire.

She was praised for her com­pas­sion­ate commitment to help­ing peo­ple in dire cri­sis.

Most Inspiring Woman in Busi­ness, sponsored by CMD Re­cruit­ment, went to Anne O’don­nell, chief ex­ec­u­tive of man­age­ment con­sul­tancy Pro­corre.

And Pro­fes­sor Mar­celle Mcmanus was named Most Inspiring Woman in Science, Tech­nol­ogy, Engi­neer­ing and

Math­e­mat­ics, an award sponsored by Lu­cozade Ribena Sun­tory.

The Uni­ver­sity of Bath lec­turer is a world-lead­ing au­thor­ity on bioen­ergy, car­bon cap­ture and re­new­able en­ergy production.

She said: “There are so many global chal­lenges at the mo­ment with cli­mate change, with en­ergy se­cu­rity, re­source man­age­ment, wa­ter scarcity, and we need so many dif­fer­ent types of peo­ple who can solve these prob­lems and work on these chal­lenges.

“When you get to a point where you’re work­ing on some­thing and you re­alise you’ve worked out how you can do it, it’s an amaz­ing feel­ing. So stick with it.”

Most Inspiring Role Model went to Sado Jirde, of the Black South West Net­work.

Sado works to raise aware­ness of racial in­equal­ity at pol­icy lev­els, both re­gion­ally and na­tion­ally.

The ac­co­lade for Most In­spi­ra­tional Woman in Sport was scooped by Sally Har­ris, of Bath City FC.

Her work as the club’s com­mu­nity direc­tor con­tin­ues to de­velop pro­grammes for un­der­priv­i­leged and un­der-rep­re­sented groups in the com­mu­nity. She has also worked with a va­ri­ety of local char­i­ties, in­clud­ing Bath Amnesty and Bath Wel­comes Refugees. The Life­time Achievemen­t award, sponsored by Queens Square Wealth Man­age­ment, went to Suzanne Thomp­son, of not-for-profit so­cial en­ter­prise The Re­store Trust. The or­gan­i­sa­tion of­fers advice and guid­ance to un­em­ployed and dis­ad­van­taged in­di­vid­u­als, help­ing them to gain per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment and es­cape poverty.

The Peo­ple’s Choice award, sponsored by Divine Di­vas, was voted for on­line by read­ers and re­ceived more than 10,000 sub­mis­sions. It was won by Joanne Water­man, al­though sadly a post­hu­mous honour. Upon dis­cov­er­ing she was fac­ing breast cancer, Jo em­barked on a jour­ney to ed­u­cate oth­ers about the dis­ease, cre­at­ing a Face­book blog called One Rub­bish Sum­mer.

The frank and hu­mor­ous ac­count of her ex­pe­ri­ences not only in­formed oth­ers about the ill­ness but be­came a plat­form of sup­port for many oth­ers fac­ing sim­i­lar chal­lenges.

The fi­nal award of the night, sponsored by head­line spon­sor Bank of Ire­land, was this year’s win­ner of win­ners.

The ti­tle went to Ni­cola Hal­ford who set up the char­ity Time is Pre­cious af­ter los­ing her young son to a brain tu­mour. Key­note speaker of the evening was Samantha Payne, of Open Bion­ics – last year’s re­cip­i­ent of the In­no­va­tive Woman award.

Reach plc’s re­gional edi­tor in Glouces­ter­shire, Rachael Sug­den, closed pro­ceed­ings by say­ing: “Please re­mem­ber to shout about your achieve­ments, please shout about other women’s achieve­ments and please work to­gether to con­tinue to lift women up.

“De­spite all that women have achieved since we won the right to vote in 1918, in the West and around the world there is still a gen­der power gap and there is still a gen­der pay gap.

“De­mand to be heard, de­mand to be recog­nised and de­mand to be re­warded. You de­serve it.”

Ni­cola Hal­ford col­lects the West Woman of the Year award from Christie Cook from Bank of Ire­land

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