Meet the trailblazing women leading the way in their chosen fields

Amazing Women Award winners Errollyn Wallen CBE, Esme Ward, and Lucy Shuker are providing a framework for women to aspire to

Amazing Women Awards 2022 winners
(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

Amazing Women Award winners Errollyn Wallen CBE, Esme Ward, and Lucy Shuker are smashing through glass ceilings at a rate of knots. Through their groundbreaking careers, these women have become role models to other women striving for professional success.

Woman&home magazine's Amazing Women Awards, in partnership with No7, recognise women for their incredible, forward-thinking work, and for not letting other peoples' expectations stop them from succeeding in their chosen fields.

As trailblazers in their professional and personal lives, it's understandable that these incredible women are being celebrated. However, what's even more remarkable is their inspirational attitudes. Attitudes, which remind us that the only way to achieve things in life is to truly believe in yourself.

Errollyn Wallen CBE, MBE, 64, British composer

Amazing Women Awards 2022 winners

(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

British composer Errollyn (opens in new tab), the winner of the Arts and Culture Award 2022, studied composition at King’s College London and Cambridge. Throughout her illustrious career, she has been commissioned by leading institutions like the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet to create work that has been performed in concert halls and theatres around the globe. 

Errollyn was the first black female composer to have work performed at the BBC Proms, which she names among her many career highlights to date. "Composing my arrangement of Jerusalem for the Last Night of the Proms 2020 during the Pandemic," she says, is one of her proudest moments. 

Other famous compositions she takes great pride in are Principia, which played at the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics 2012, and her opera Dido’s Ghost. The opera, which premiered at the Barbican in 2021, subsequently went to Buxton, the Edinburgh Festival, and it was performed by the Dunedin Consort, with libretto by Wesley Stace.

Errollyn firmly believes that there are no barriers when it comes to music, and is the Artistic Curator of the Spitalfields music festival which aims to bring music to disadvantaged local communities.

As well as her community focussed work, Errolyn's compositions have gone where few people have been—space. Proof that the sky is the limit she says, "My CDs were taken to outer space on the STS-115 shuttle mission to the International Space Station." Adding, "Still can’t get over that one!"

So what message has she got for her fellow midlife women? "Keep your flame alive," she says. "Don’t let anyone deter you from your dreams or try to pigeonhole you."

Lucy Shuker, 41, wheelchair tennis athlete and triple Paralympic medallist

Amazing Women Awards 2022 winners

(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

Our Sportsperson of the Year champion Lucy (opens in new tab)is someone familiar with winning, as a multiple Paralympic medallist, winning silver at Tokyo 2020 and two bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Former Wimbledon finalist Lucy explains how her life changed in more ways than one after a motorbike accident left her with severe spinal injuries.

"I started playing wheelchair tennis as a means to come to terms with an accident that changed my life, and it has since given me opportunities I never dreamt possible."

Lucy has had to demonstrate phenomenal determination and skill to continue to compete at the top level. In the face of decreased funding, she continues to be supported by the charity Path To Success. 

For her, it's more than a passion and career. She explains, "I hope that through my participation and increased visibility of Paralympic Sport, I can inspire others to pick up a racket. Especially newly injured spinal patients to be able to see that they too can enjoy a new way of life."

No wonder, as Lucy's journey was inspired by another groundbreaking athlete, Esther Vegeer. "She was at the top of Wheelchair Tennis when I first started playing. Her incredible work ethic and dedication is something I have tried to mirror in my own career."

Despite being in a career that often sees athletes retire in midlife, Lucy continues to rise through the ranks. "I am one of the oldest competitors in wheelchair tennis, and also one of the most disabled in the women’s division. The competition is incredibly tough, yet after some recent successes I have climbed back up the rankings to an equal career-best of World No.5."

"If you have a dream, keep working towards it," she says. "Dream big, stay positive, work hard and enjoy the journey."

Esme Ward, 51, Director of the Manchester Museum

Amazing Women Awards 2022 winners

(Image credit: woman&home/Future)

Regularly named one of the most inspirational women in heritage, Esme's an obvious choice for this year's Heritage Hero Award. In 2018 Esme became the first female director of The Manchester Museum. "Becoming the first-ever woman to be appointed Director was pretty special," she says. "After 129 years, Manchester, city of suffragettes, finally had a woman at the helm of its museum."

Eager to use this award to elevate fellow females in the industry she adds, "There are some extraordinary women working in heritage, so to be recognized and acknowledged in this way is quite something!"

Esme also sits on the National Museum’s Director’s Executive Council, which reflects her impressive career thus far, which has taken her to the V&A, The National Trust and The Whitworth Gallery where she developed audiences, exhibitions and teaching at all levels. This amazing woman has a longstanding commitment to making museums relevant to a wider audience.

In her role at Manchester Museum (opens in new tab), one of her proudest ongoing projects is leading their ground-breaking work on repatriation. "We were the first museum in Europe to unconditionally return sacred and ceremonial material back to Traditional Custodians in Australia," she says. "A deeply moving and powerful experience."

Beyond dedicating her career to doing everything she can to make museums more inclusive, Esme hopes that her museum becomes more widely and deeply loved. Hoping further that it, "shifts understanding and expectations of what museums and heritage can do to build empathy, care and understanding for our world and each other."

Esme's advice for her peers is simple: "Mid-life stretch can be a challenge. Juggling work, children, elderly parents, friends. Work out what makes your heart beat faster, personally and professionally, and commit to doing it."

The woman&home Amazing Women Awards are brought to you in partnership with No7.

Aoife Hanna
Aoife Hanna

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.

With contributions from