Shortlist revealed for w&h’s Amazing Women Awards 2021—vote now for a community hero in your region!

Vote for a woman in your region to win a w&h Community Hero Award

Amazing Women 2021
(Image credit: Amazing Women 2021)

Every year we present Amazing Women Awards to women over 50 who are making a difference in all walks of life. From brilliant entrepreneurs to women who are changing our country and inspirational celebrities, amazing women are everywhere. We asked you to help us shine a light on community heroes across five UK regions, by nominating a woman in your area who deserves an Amazing Women Community Hero Award. 

Never have our communities been more vital and valued than over the past 12 months. As the pandemic shrank our worlds, we have come to know our friends, neighbours, local businesses and services like never before. 

Thanks to everyone who nominated an amazing woman. The response was fantastic— and it was hard to narrow the list to 15 finalists, but these women were selected for their outstanding contribution to improving lives. We are delighted to present the shortlisted nominees for each of five UK regions. 

Again we'd like your help, so vote for the fabulous women you would like in the final of the Amazing Women Awards 2021. Votes close on the 31st of July 2021—look out for the winners online and in our November issue (on sale October).

The Amazing Women Awards shortlist 2021

Which of these fabulous women you would like to see in the final of the Amazing Women Awards 2021? Vote in each of the regions' interactive voting panels below. Three women have been shortlisted in each region. There will be one winner from each region. 

Wales and West Midlands shortlist

Amanda says: I was privileged to work with an amazing team over the past year. They supported me in my role and helped me every step of the way. It was a difficult year for us all – nurses, doctors, physios, occupational therapists, radiographers, cleaners – everyone. Every team member is as important as the next. I would never feel comfortable accepting this nomination as an individual – I’m no different and far less amazing than so many others. However, I do so with pride and thanks on behalf of every incredible person in our marvellous NHS who has worked tirelessly to save lives and bring the country back to health. 

Carla Rosa Manfredino, who nominated her mother, says: After recovering from COVID-19, Mum wanted to help where it was needed. She adjusted to the changes in her life with grace, strength and humility – we are so proud of her. 

Hilary says: I have long been a community activist: I might be assisting asylum seekers, helping those seeking justice or supporting families in need of items of food, clothing and furniture. Each of these communities can be far-reaching, including not only those directly involved, but their friends, family, neighbours and others. 

Steve Khaireh, who nominated Hilary, says: Hilary cares deeply and acts swiftly wherever she sees injustice. There is still so much poverty and racial inequality – we recently visited a family who had nothing but blankets – it’s hard to believe deprivation like this exists in modern Britain.

Veronica says: The pop-in has developed into the main social hub for the town’s young people, their families and senior citizens. We work closely with health, police and educational professionals, which has enabled us to establish trust and develop successful advocacy services for families in crisis. We are supported by many local volunteers, and hundreds of people access our services each year. 

Antonia Jones, who nominated Veronica, says: RonStar, as she is known to me, saved my sanity and helps an army of people daily, week in week out, throughout the year. 

Vote for the winner of Wales and West Midlands

East Midlands & East Anglia shortlist

Suzy says: I was bereaved by suicide in 2009 when I found my husband had taken his life. There is still shame and misunderstanding around suicide, and the charity came out of my need to be among people who understood. We’re peer-led and meetings are facilitated by a survivor with accredited training. It’s wonderful to help people work through trauma and rebuild lives. 

Vicki Chapman, who nominated Suzy, says: I lost my husband to suicide and Suzy supported me through the worst period of my life. Suicide survivors are more likely than most to take their own lives, so without doubt, Suzy is a lifesaver. 

Amy says: Laughter is hugely beneficial – it’s great aerobic exercise, proven to lower blood pressure, improve concentration and help your immune system. While children laugh on average around 300 times a day, adults average just five to 10 times. Luckily, the body can’t distinguish between fake and real laughter, so playful exercises that stimulate a belly laugh can improve your mindset.’ 

Amy’s daughter Sandy, who nominated her, says: When we arrived in the UK 10 years ago, Mum knew no one and sank into a depression. Although she has a degree in law and is a master NLP practitioner, she lost her smile. She found it via laughter yoga, and now she jumps at every opportunity to spread joy and wellbeing through laughter. 

 Linzi says: I wanted young people to have something cool to be passionate about, to help them make the tricky transition to adulthood. We’re open to anyone who has a passion and an ear for music. We don’t offer lessons or exams but our groups play huge gigs – this year we were booked to play Latitude Festival and Strawberry Fields – it’s great to see their confidence grow. 

Linzi’s daughter Jozie, who nominated her, says: Mum is dedicated to the wellbeing of the children and, even in lockdown, got them played on and interviewed by local radio. 

Vote for the winner of East Midlands & East Anglia

South East & South West shortlist

Frances says: I worked in occupational therapy in mental health for 30 years before I had to retire due to health issues and became depressed. Aware that health services weren’t often responsive to people’s needs, I started a small drop-in group. This now operates seven days a week. We have a hugely successful Hope Programme, with groups and workshops, and we also operate a suicide prevention crisis service. Lockdown has exacerbated mental health issues, and I know we’ve saved lives during this period. 

Elaine Digby, who nominated Frances, says: Until Frances started the charity, there was a huge void in services for adult mental health. Frances works so hard to get funding, and if it wasn’t for her work, many people wouldn’t be here today. 

Tracey says: We hold groups in children’s centres and church halls, offering a supportive, non-judgmental safe space for struggling mums. During lockdown, we’ve delivered food boxes to families, while social and advisory sessions have moved online. We run This Girl Can activities and Let’s Talk sessions, where mums can discuss topics such as housing or childcare issues, and book one-to-one specialist support. 

Vanessa Munnings, who nominated Tracey, says: Tracey is an outstanding asset to the community and has dedicated her life to helping single mums and struggling families, equipping them with life skills to keep their families happy and healthy. 

 Karen says: I became involved with Autism Jersey when my son, now 22, was diagnosed with autism. He’s extremely bright but has complex needs, and parenting a child with autism can be hugely challenging. Through the swim and other fundraising initiatives, we now have funds to support families with children on the spectrum and adults. We might help someone buy a laptop to apply for jobs, or get their moped fixed so they can get to college. 

Helen Miles, who nominated Karen, says: Karen’s work is making a hugely positive difference to the lives of autistic islanders. 

Vote for the winner of South East & South West

Scotland & Northern Ireland shortlist

Michele says: My mother always told me, ‘If you can’t help people on this Earth, you shouldn’t be here,’ and that’s the motto I try to live by. I was a property officer for the council, so I’m used to coordinating action – when an ambulance was stranded, I organised the rescue by getting the local farmers to dig it out. I like to think what I do enhances the community spirit.’ 

Moira Neville, who nominated Michele, says: She is a lynchpin of this community. She has coordinated emergency assistance during the ‘Beast from the East’ when the village was cut off, a heart attack rescue, flood assistance and COVID support. 

Valerie says: On my first trip to Uganda 20 years ago, I became aware of children being sexually violated and left vulnerable, so I bought a plot of land and set up a centre where girls can have their babies in safety. There is a nursery, we look after medical bills and teach independence skills. Back in Belfast, I set up a shop on the Holyrood Road to help fundraise. I also support vulnerable young girls in Belfast. 

Beverley Milton-Edwards, who nominated Valerie, says: Aside from her work with Ugandan mothers, Valerie’s commitment has encouraged generations of young people to a life of volunteering and support for diverse communities at home and abroad. 

Gail says: We began with our Dare to Care food project to help young families, and work with supermarkets to provide food and ingredients. We have counsellors and mentors, and run two social enterprises, a shop and a cafe. This month, we are walking from Portrush to Co Down to raise awareness of mental health and raise money for a wellbeing centre. 

Lynda Surgenor, who nominated Gail, says: Gail is a humble woman who is passionate about helping to meet people’s needs and change lives. Her love and support has saved lives. 

Vote for the winner of Scotland & Northern Ireland

North East, North West & Yorkshire shortlist

Nicola says: Reuben collapsed suddenly on a family holiday in Devon, and within hours we were told he had a brain tumour. They tried to operate, but he suffered cardiac arrest and died. There are no words to describe the grief of losing your child, but setting up the charity was a way to ensure Reuben’s short life was not lived in vain. We offer families a sanctuary to create magical memories, and help them feel less isolated in their grief. 

Lianne Bertelli, who nominated Nicola, says: Nicola is truly inspirational and dedicated to helping others in their time of need.

Mandy says: I love hosting Brodstock – it’s such a boost for the local community. I stand on stage for 10 hours, introducing the bands and drumming up support and donations. I’m also very proud of Charity Angels which I set up to connect individuals and businesses with charities. 

Nicola Chance-Thompson, who nominated Mandy, says: Mandy has devoted her life to improving the lives of others. Besides her work with Brodstock and Charity Angels, she is a volunteer for a variety of charities, a super networker and highly respected by the business community. During lockdown, she supported the NHS, and shopped and cared for vulnerable people. 

Christine says: I run UK-wide training that helps women who have suffered abuse process what they’ve gone through. I founded End Abuse to ensure those who have suffered abuse have the advice and information they need, despite cuts to services. We assist women with court cases, and provide a specialised stalking and harassment support service. Putting our services online has helped women all over the UK to access our services, which has been valuable during the pandemic.’ 

Vanessa Quamby, who nominated her, says: Countless women have testified to Christine’s kind, compassionate approach – her work deserves recognition. 

Vote for the winner of North East, North West & Yorkshire

When does voting close and when will the winners be announced?

Votes close on the 31st of July 2020—lookout for the winners online in October and in our November issue (on sale October).