First the long list, then the shortlist... Now, months after beginning our annual search for women who inspire, motivate, trailblaze, and campaign, we present our winners of the woman&home Amazing Women Awards 2021.
From their charity work, to their vision, dedication, entrepreneurship, and the support they offer our communities, we celebrate the many achievements of these exceptional individuals.
The w&h Amazing Women Award 2021 winners
RACHEL CLACHER, CBE, 53
What does this award mean to you? It means that the world is noticing the forces for good that Moneypenny and WeMindTheGap have become, thanks to the amazing individuals I’ve worked with.
Which woman inspires you? Every woman, every human, inspires me. Everyone has their own story to learn from. What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? To watch Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, growing our business, and Diane Aplin leading WeMindTheGap is humbling. What we need now are powerful national conversations about purpose, opportunity, and social mobility.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? All we have is now. If you never try, you’ll never know.
What quality do you most admire in others? Patience.
What would your superpower be? To remove ego. The world would change if everyone made the best decisions for each situation rather than the best ones for them.
Changing our country
KATE GRIGGS, 58
Kate founded Made By Dyslexia and works tirelessly to transform and improve perceptions around those with the condition.
What does this award mean to you? It’s a wonderful reminder that the work I’m doing is all worth it and I’m making a difference.
Which woman inspires you? Fellow dyslexic Erin Brockovich, the environmental activist who built and won a successful lawsuit against an energy giant.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? Of having written two books, Xtraordinary People and This is Dyslexia, which show how dyslexic minds think differently, creating unique skill sets.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Midlife is an amazing time to follow your dreams. We get so much wiser with age, and experience is a brilliant talent resource. Whatever it is you’d like to do, give it a go.
What quality do you most admire in others? I love people who just dive in and try things.
What would your superpower be? Simplifying and explaining things. And a relentless drive for positive change.
Smashing the glass ceiling
MICHELLE VICKERS, 56
CEO of the Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, Michelle has enjoyed a stellar career in not-for-profit organizations.
What does this award mean to you? More than I imagined it would. Reliving my improbable journey and acknowledging it fully, I am so proud of myself.
Which woman inspires you? My amazing friends, and Michelle
Obama—for the way she balances a commitment to family and hard work. I find her empathy, strength, and dignity overwhelming.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? I am most proud of being contented. I feel tranquil, happy, and at peace with myself, which has taken a while.
What is your shout-out to midlife women? Realize that you can have it all, you just need to know what ‘it all’ is. My theory is that ‘all’ is not ‘everything’ but that it’s ‘enough’. Find out what your ‘enough’ is and let go of the rest.
What qualities do you most admire in others? Height and diplomacy.
What would your superpower be? The Jedi superpower of persuasion. From ending wars and prejudice to getting the waste bins taken out or the dishwasher emptied, I think it’s a powerful quality.
Don't tell me I can't
ANGELA MIDDLETON MBE, 59
Angela transformed her body with weight training and created a bespoke program, Your Body Means Business, to help others achieve their fitness and business goals.
What does this award mean to you? It’s an absolute honor to receive it and also a surprise, seeing all the wonderful women nominated. It inspires me to continue to do more and be more impactful... we’re never finished!
Which woman inspires you? The late American lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who rose to become Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She achieved so much for herself, for women of the world, and all the while being a loving wife and parent.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? I’m proud of being in business for 40 years, excelling in competitive markets, and impacting the careers and lives of so many. I’m also proud of my own physical transformation and want to continue to support other women to do the same.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Your best years are always ahead of you—just believe it.
What qualities do you most admire in others? Resilience, resourcefulness, and reliability.
What would your superpower be? To spot that in others and draw it out.
Celebrity doing good
MEERA SYAL CBE, 59
One of our most popular actors, Meera Syal is Ambassador for the charity, Alzheimer’s Society (AS).
What does this award mean to you?
I feel touched and delighted. I’ve been an AS ambassador since my father was diagnosed with dementia in 2012—the work I do for AS is in his memory. The AS was a great source of support and information for us, and I have been honored to help spread that message.
Which woman inspires you? My mother, for her unending devotion and patience with my father during his illness. And my daughter—her resilience and wicked sense of humor keep me going!
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? Of making a living out of what I love and balancing that with happy home life.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? These are the ripe years when we truly blossom. Stay healthy and curious, say yes to new experiences and adore every wrinkle and scar—they tell the story you have lived, laughed, cried, learned, and survived!
What quality do you most admire in others? Practical empathy.
What would your superpower be? Giving everyone the ability to stand in someone else’s skin for an hour. That, or being able to transfer the hair from my chin to my head!
Community Hero; South East & South West
TRACEY DAVIS, 51
Tracey founded the charity Guiding Hands to support families in need and won this award for making life easier for struggling mums.
What does this award mean to you? I spend 80% of my time working with Guiding Hands, so it’s fantastic to be recognized for it personally. It’s a wake-up moment that you are impacting others’ lives. I can’t thank everybody enough for ‘seeing’ me.
Which woman inspires you? Mothers, in general, inspire me. Seeing the vital role they play in shaping the next generation motivates me for the work that still lies ahead.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? I’m the proudest of my children! But I’m also proud of the mums I have helped over the years. I’d like to close the widening gap between those who have support and those who don’t.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Do ‘me time’. Get together with friends at least once a month, and also binge-watch a series with your children—it’s important bonding time.
What qualities do you most admire in others? Loyalty, determination, commitment, and dedication.
What would your superpower be? To be like an ironwoman— coming to the rescue, sorting people out, and trying to help them.
Community Hero; Wales & West Midlands
VERONICA WELLS, 72
Veronica established the Prestatyn and Meliden Community Action Group pop-in center, which supports young people and families in crisis.
What does this award mean to you? It’s fantastic but the best part will be sharing the news, and celebrating with the autism and additional needs group who nominated me.
Which woman inspires you? Civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who showed that segregation, discrimination, and bigotry are profoundly wrong. She proved that one woman’s actions can make positive, lasting change.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? Watching pensioners enjoying lunch in good company, seeing young people grow in confidence, and witnessing parents of additional needs children obtain the services and educate their children have a right to expect, makes me so proud. My dream is to expand the center—we need £130,000. It will happen!
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Do what gives us joy. Try volunteering—it can be so rewarding.
What quality do you most admire in others? The ability to give things a go.
What would your superpower be? I would make loneliness disappear.
Community Hero; East Midlands & East Anglia
AMY MEERA GILL, 50
Amy provides wellbeing services to the local community, helping those struggling with mental health issues, and spreading joy through laughter yoga.
What does this award mean to you? It’s an honor that strengthens my purpose further. I’d like to thank my daughter Sandy for nominating me, my son Zac for supporting me, and my husband for believing in me.
Which woman inspires you? My mother—is 76 and radiates positivity and joy.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? I am proud of the person I have become—I have overcome what I once thought I couldn’t. In the future, I’d like to publish a book—my journey from 50 to 60.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Take every end as a beginning. When I had to relocate, I had no idea what I was going to do. A decade on, I am loving life and have this award. If I can do it, so can you!
What quality do you most admire in others? Patience resolves conflicts, issues, and misunderstandings. It’s the key to happiness.
What would your superpower be? Gratitude—it helps me maintain a content, loving and positive life.
Community Hero; North East, North West & Yorkshire
NICOLA GRAHAM, 50
Following the death of her youngest son, Nicola founded and runs the charity Reuben’s Retreat, supporting families who have lost children and those of children with complex illnesses.
What does this award mean to you? I’m humbled and grateful that being involved might mean we reach more families needing our support.
Which woman inspires you? My mum is a real champion of people, and throughout her working career has been a voice for others and an advocate for positive change.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? I am proud of both of my boys. Isaac has coped incredibly well after losing his brother and continues to be such a rock for us. Equally, I feel blessed to walk hand in hand with my angel son, Reuben, every day, delivering his legacy.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Embrace aging. It’s a gift that’s not afforded to some, so embrace every new day and be thankful for it.
What quality do you most admire in others? Friendliness, which has the ability to put people at ease and open up opportunities.
What would your superpower be? I agree with my son, Isaac, who’s 13, that ‘healing’ would be our superpower. Many of our families say our retreat holds beautiful healing energy, so this is also Reuben’s superpower coming through.
Community Hero; Scotland & Northern Ireland
VALERIE DUFF, 78
Valerie runs the Waakisa Ministries Trust Northern Ireland, dedicating her time to supporting vulnerable women both locally and in Uganda.
What does this award mean to you? It is exciting on a personal level, but it means most for the charity.
Which woman inspires you? The Queen, who inspires us all to think of others first.
What are you proudest of and what would you like to achieve? I’m proudest of the steps to independence for all the young women supported by Waakisa that become possible through support, love, and kindness. I hope to continue to build on the work of the past 20 years.
What’s your shout-out to midlife women? Go for it—make your dreams a reality with a small step today!
What qualities do you most admire in others? Kindness and being understanding of difference, which is a lovely thing.
What would your superpower be? Everlasting energy!
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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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