2011 Inspiring Women Awards at Manchester's Midland Hotel

The achievements and courage of women from across our county were celebrated at the annual Inspiring Women Awards in Manchester PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

The print version of this article appeared in the July 2011 issue of Cheshire Life 

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Inspiring Young Women Award Shaneice Roberts , Steff Needham and Cat Jones Sponsored by Carole Nash

Shaneice, Steff and Cat helped set up Us Unltd, run by a group of young people based in Flint, North Wales.  The girls have all experienced homelessness and have also shared traumatic home lives.

They now aim to open up a drop-in centre and cafe called The Getaway, where youngsters could meet, have a shower, wash their clothes, access support agencies and find empathy from people who understood their plight in a way no-one else can.

They have found the premises. The next task is to raise money for the lease and renovations. In the meantime, they opened the Us Unltd shop at 53 Church Street, selling items produced by local crafts people.

Social Entrepreneur Claire Fryer Sponsored by Carole Nash

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At aged just 28, Claire has already set up and sold one business and is now building her second business as a social enterprise: the Mosaic Group. Following a BA in Social Work and Welfare Studies, Claire knew that she wanted to run a business enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.

Her vision for the Mosaic Group is to offer a robust and professional service that was not only cost-effective and affordable but also providing a quality that focused on the individual as a person and not a disability. She employs 56 people and in 2009 was awarded contracts with both Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Borough Council as one of the key providers for the Government’s Aiming High for Disabled Children Initiative.



Creative and Media Sita Williams

Sita, from Manchester, has been producing award-winning television drama for over 30 years at Granada TV and latterly with her own company, RSJ, for the BBC. Her TV credits reflect some of the best TV dramas and acting performances of that time.

She remains one of the most respected women producers in television and is, in turn, renowned for her work in supporting and developing young female producers. In 2009, following the closure of the drama department in the year she picked up no less than 7 RTS Awards, she set up RSJ Films with Jimmy McGovern and Roxy Spencer, creators of the award-winning series ‘The Street’ with Sita taking on the role of Executive Producer.

Business Jennie Johnson Sponsored by Deloitte

Frustrated at being unable to find adequate childcare centres for her own children, Jennie founded Kids Allowed back in 2003. Each nursery is based in new build accommodation, with Jennie seeking funding for each project from scratch. Through Kids Allowed, she has pioneered changes in childcare allowing parents more flexibility in their childcare arrangements.

She listens to what her customers want and has designed a service based around their needs. Kids Allowed runs 3 nurseries and 2 after school clubs, with a fourth nursery opening in Macclesfield. Each nursery has a purpose built Sensory Theatre, Music Room and Studio and fully trained chefs. In 2010 Kids Allowed won Nursery Chain of the Year.

Community Dr Sylvia Sham Sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University

From a childhood of abject poverty as a refugee in Hong Kong to developing the UK’s largest ethnic minority’s women’s organisation, Sylvia, from Macclesfield, has dedicated herself to improving the lives of the Chinese Community in the North West and committed to challenging them to fully contribute to British society. 

She became a director of Wai Yin in 1998 and since then it has grown from six to 50 employees turning over �1.7 million, dealing with over 600 Chinese families and users across the North West. Wai Yin employs men and women from all backgrounds and has forged partnerships with other Black and Minority Ethnic organizations, hosting amongst others the British Red Cross Refugee women’s group

The full gallery of photos from the night

The 19th annual Inspiring Women Awards were celebrated in fine style at the historic Midland Hotel, Manchester, and once again Cheshire Life and sister magazine, Lancashire Life, were there to capture the moments and celebrate with the winners.

At the sell-out luncheon, guests listened to the stories of 15 extraordinary women across five categories, with the Award winners being announced to standing ovations. ‘The quality and diversity of the nominees continues to make the judging process very difficult,’ said Jacqueline Hughes-Lundy, who was delighted that after 19 years, the Awards are still uncovering talent, commitment and passion, and providing powerful role models to inspire us all.

Guest speaker and Award announcer was psychologist and best-selling author (formerly basketball player)  John Amaechi OBE, who caught the mood perfectly by talking about his own greatest inspiration – his mother, Dr Amaechi, who had instilled in him the belief that he could achieve anything.

The winners of the Inspiring Young Women Award picked up more than just their bursaries. On hearing of how they are putting their experiences of homelessness to positive use, players from the Crusaders RFL Team in Wrexham, arranged for the entire project to enjoy a VIP day at The Racecourse and there was a second surprise when general manger Jamie Jones and head chef, Pete Taylor from the Room restaurant in Manchester, offered the girls training in all aspects of running a food outlet.

Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life are proud to be media supporters of this prestigious event, which was broadcast live by BBC Radio Manchester and also featured on Sky Sports programme, Boots ‘n’ All.

The MC for the day was Trevor Hunt and the charity appeal was on behalf of The Inspiring Young Women Foundation.

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