We know you’ll share our pride in these fabulous women who’ve made such a difference to the people around them, and to our country.
Their work covers a whole spectrum of great achievements – working for charities close to everyone’s hearts, boosting the profile of women in the workplace, offering help and support to those in need, and demonstrating that barriers are there to be broken.
SMASHING the GLASS CEILING AWARD
Minette Batters, 50: President of the National Farmers’ Union
Minette is the first female president of the NFU and co-founded both the Ladies in Beef and Great British Beef Week initiatives. She is a successful tenant farmer in Wiltshire.
How do you feel about winning this award? I’m delighted. It’s been a huge surprise and a great honour. Which woman has inspired you in your life? I remember watching Margaret Thatcher dispatch the Royal Navy task force to the Falkland Islands on the back of the Argentinian invasion. From then on I always admired her courage and leadership. Closer to home, my mother. What achievements are you most proud of? Having my children and building my farming business – both have tested me to the limit but given me untold happiness. What advice would you give to your younger self? When I got married, a family friend who gave a speech said I made a great lasagne. I imagined my obituary, and from that day on I’ve been striving to be as good as I can be. How I wish I’d thought like that when I was 15 years old. What is your mantra? The Serenity Prayer: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ What couldn’t you live without? My phone – it keeps me in touch with my family when I’m on the road representing farmers.
CHAMPION OF THE ARTS AWARD
Debbie Horsfield, 64: Award-winning producer and screenwriter
Debbie is known for writing strong female characters, and for supporting new talent in the industry. Her many credits include Cutting It, Age Before Beauty and the BBC’s smash hit series Poldark.
How do you feel about winning this award? Thrilled, grateful – and slightly terrified when I heard a photo shoot was involved! I’m certainly not shy but I’ve always preferred to leave the ‘on camera’ stuff to my actors. Which woman has inspired you in your life? Dramatist and screenwriter Shelagh Delaney. Her play A Taste of Honey opened my eyes to the possibility that a working-class girl from Salford could be taken seriously as a writer! What achievements are you most proud of? Without question, my four children. What advice would you give to your younger self? Go for a run! Getting more oxygen to the brain isn’t a cure-all for stress or overwork, but it can help you see things in perspective. And the endorphin rush is great. What is your mantra? I’m with Yoda on this one! ‘Do. Or do not. There is no try.’ What couldn’t you live without? My husband and kids. My Manchester United season ticket. And my treadmill desk. I don’t sprint on it. I walk steadily at about 3.5k an hour and it just seems to keep my energy levels up and my head clear.
Jane Atherton, 58: Mentoring women through the menopause
As a member of the British Menopause Society, through her work as a nutritionist and now with her dedicated Phytomone Skincare range, Jane works tirelessly to support women dealing with the changes menopause brings.
How do you feel about winning this award? It was totally unexpected, and the best surprise. I feel so grateful to all the women who follow our social media accounts and share their experiences. Which woman has inspired you in your life? I have great admiration for any woman who approaches life post-menopause with a positive attitude and lives life to its full potential. What achievements are you most proud of? My two amazing daughters. On a professional level, of starting my own skincare company in my fifties. Women deserve to have care and consideration put into the development of the products they now need for their hormone-deficient skin. What advice would you give to your younger self? That life is a journey and don’t be afraid to take a diversion sometimes, otherwise you might miss a great opportunity. What is your mantra? Always look on the bright side of life. What couldn’t you live without? A good moisturiser, of course! Pause Hydra Creme from the Phytomone collection tackles all my skincare issues and helps me look and feel beautiful every day.
CARING FOR OTHERS AWARD
Alison Bunce, 56, Innovations in care, nominated by Muriel Searl
A senior nurse at Ardgowan Hospice in Greenock, Alison has been instrumental in establishing compassionate care methods across Inverclyde. This includes the NODA (No-one Dies Alone) initiative, which ensures patients in the last stages of life receive comfort and companionship.
How do you feel about winning this award? Overwhelmed. It was a volunteer who nominated me and at first I thought, ‘Why has she done that?’ I’m so proud. Which woman has inspired you in your life? My mother, for her kindness, and Frances McGeoch, from whom I received clinical supervision. She’s wise, encouraging and positive, and has become a great friend and mentor. What achievements are you most proud of? I’m proud of my two beautiful daughters and of my relationship. I’ve walked the Himalayas, so that’s a real personal challenge. And I’m proud of all I’ve achieved with Compassionate Inverclyde, and the wonderful people and volunteers I work with. What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t waste time worrying about whether people like you. It’s more important that they respect you. Work towards that goal. What is your mantra? I like something the Dalai Lama said. ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’ What couldn’t you live without? My Golden Retriever, Corrie. His love is constant and unconditional.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE FOR CHARITY AWARD
Julie Robinson, 58: Helping breast cancer patients, nominated by Beth Rees
Julie has lost three sisters-in-law to breast cancer. Twenty years ago she promised sister-in-law Louise that she would raise £1,000 towards research into the disease for the sake of their daughters. She has since fundraised over £1 million for the charity Breast Cancer Now.
How do you feel about winning this award? Thrilled. I feel it’s in recognition of the efforts and hard work of all the many amazing women who work tirelessly as volunteers for the charity. Which woman has inspired you in your life? My sister-in-law Louise inspired me with her selflessness as she fought breast cancer. Even though it was too late for her, she could see what we could do to help create a better future for others. What achievements are you most proud of? In terms of the charity, reaching the million-pound mark and conceiving the ‘Time to Live’ rose. Personally, I’m proud of the business I have established, which helps women stay healthy as they age. What advice would you give to your younger self? Have confidence – like all young people, I was too self-critical. What is your mantra? Let’s give it a go! This saying motivates me to take up challenges and do things that are way out of my comfort zone. What couldn’t you live without? My family and a slick of bright pink lipstick. It makes me feel I can face the world.
CELEBRITY DOING GOOD AWARD
Shirley Ballas, 59: Supporter of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Having lost her beloved brother David to suicide, Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley supports CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably), and recently climbed Kilimanjaro with Comic Relief to raise awareness of the issues around mental illness.
How do you feel about winning this award? Absolutely brilliant. It’s the first non-dancing award I’ve received in the UK so it was a lovely surprise. Which woman has inspired you in your life? My mother, with her work ethic and the way she is always putting people before herself and paying it forward. What achievements are you most proud of? Two things – I’m in a male-dominated industry and have endured quite a bit of pressure and bullying, so I’m proud of having overcome that. Secondly, of having climbed Kilimanjaro with Comic Relief in memory of my brother David and for CALM. I thought I’d never get through it, but I did and I’m honoured to have had the opportunity. What advice would you give to your younger self? To stand up to bullies. Bullying goes on everywhere, in schools, in the workplace, and you meet strong characters who influence others. I’ve learned to stand up for myself but I wish I’d done so sooner. What is your mantra? Wake up every day and see the world with the eyes of a newborn baby. I remind myself of this daily and it allows me to focus on the now. What couldn’t you live without? My mother. She raised me and my brother as a single mum and I’m exceptionally close to her. She’s my go-to person, my friend, my mentor. My everything.
CHANGING OUR COUNTRY AWARD
Chantal Hughes, 51: Helping victims of domestic abuse
Chantal is CEO of The Hampton Trust, a groundbreaking NFP organisation that supports victims and tackles offenders in domestic relationships. The programmes she conceives are so successful, they have been rolled out to police forces across the country.
How do you feel about winning this award? Very proud, although my achievements are down to working with many inspirational women daily. Which woman has inspired you in your life? My grandmother was strong, independent and kind. She was a shrewd businesswoman who worked hard, overcame cancer, did loads of charity work and had an impressive social calendar. She was bold about everything, which I really admired. If she liked a dress she would buy it in every colour; that’s worth celebrating. What achievements are you most proud of? My daughter, hands down. There are lots of things I’m proud of but nothing compares with that. She is an incredible young woman who doesn’t let fear hold her back. What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t overthink everything and be risk adverse. You won’t believe how fast the time will go. Also, it’s OK to ditch the mascara. What is your mantra? See the good in people. If it’s hard to find, break down the barriers until you get there. What couldn’t you live without? The special people in my life. They accept my quirks and I’m very lucky to have them as my safety net.
SOCIAL AND TECH GENIUS AWARD
Anne Boden, mbe, 59: Founder of Starling Bank
After growing up in Swansea, Wales, Anne moved to the City, enjoying a stratospheric rise through the banking industry. In 2014 she raised £20 million to found digital-only bank Starling.
How do you feel about winning this award? Honoured. I hope it will encourage more women to see how many exciting opportunities there are in technology roles. Which woman has inspired you in your life? Dame Stephanie Shirley – she created a multi-billion-pound IT software consultancy in the 1960s, initially employing only women. What achievements are you most proud of? With Starling Bank, we’ve not just created a new and better kind of bank; we’re also disrupting an entire industry by raising the bar for traditional banks. What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t worry so much about money. What is your mantra? If people tell you something you passionately want to do is impossible, do it anyway. What couldn’t you live without? My iPhone.
DON’T TELL ME I CAN’T AWARD
India Gill, 54: Model championing classic elegance
Having had her teenage dreams of modelling thwarted by her strict upbringing, India broke into the industry in her fifties, signing with Mrs Robinson Management. She juggles bookings with her work a psychotherapist.
How do you feel about winning this award? It’s wonderful to be offered the chance to inspire people to know they can do anything they set their mind to. Which woman has inspired you in your life? It’s a 50/50 between my mother and Oprah Winfrey! They are both strong women who have dealt with adversity in such an exemplary manner. What achievements are you most proud of? Of my son Amrit and daughter Simran. Also of obtaining my BSc Psychology Honours degree and subsequent learning as a mature student. What advice would you give to your younger self? If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing right, so whatever you do, apply yourself fully, plus some! What is your mantra? Go inward. That’s where all the answers are. What couldn’t you live without? My mother, my faith and my spiritual practice.
IMPROVING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Dr Jan Peters, 54: Revamping her town, nominated by Adrian Dwyer
Awarded an MBE in 2017 for her services to women in Science and Engineering, Jan aims to create local opportunity in her hometown of Christchurch, Dorset, through initiatives such as the creation of a Science Discovery Centre.
How do you feel about winning this award? Shocked and humbled. I’ve only ever done what I saw needed doing or could be done. And along the way got into step with others who felt the same way. I’m just a small part of the machine. Which woman has inspired you in your life? Technology pioneer Mary Lou Jepsen is my hero. She made her social enterprise ‘One Laptop per Child’ a reality. Since then she has gone on to found companies and invent. She sees problems and builds technological solutions. What achievements are you most proud of? Making a difference. Helping to shift the perceptions of campaigns for better work experiences for women. I’m proud to have played my part in making the technology workplace one that embraces women in all their shapes and brilliance, and sees them for the contribution their brains and energy can bring. What advice would you give to your younger self? My older self counsels taking three long breaths before piling in when you see something that needs changing. This gives you time to gather yourself and assess the situation before you explore the best way forward. What is your mantra? Believe in yourself. What couldn’t you live without? My multitasking partner who supports my crazy volunteering activities. And being outdoors – walking on the Purbecks or windsurfing.
Stephanie Clarkson is a successful childrens’ author of Hello Happy, Be Kind, and Super Milly and the Super School Day.
Stephanie graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and Italian, before training as a journalist. She was then a staff writer at The Daily Mail and Deputy Features Editor on woman&home magazine until 2006 when she turned freelance. She continues to write regularly for the British press.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys working with schools to promote literacy and the love of reading.
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