The 2014 Cheshire Woman of the Year Award, Eaton Park
- Credit: Archant
Inspiring, selfless and courageous are just a few words to describe the women nominated for the 29th Cheshire Woman of the Year Award, an event held in the stunning grounds of Eaton Park.
The awards, which were hosted within the Duke of Westminster’s historic estate for the fifth year, celebrated some of Cheshire’s most amazing women and their achievements. As chairwoman Sylvia Cheater said in her welcome speech, it was an honour and a delight to be in the presence of such ladies. From professional women to charity volunteers, each nominee was recognised for her achievement or service to the community. Attendees of the entirely female occasion enjoyed a champagne reception in the Long Room, where guests had plenty to chat about before moving into the Wolf Room for lunch.
The nominees included Julie Hill-Smith of Holmes Chapel for her fundraising for Community Support Group and Jacqui Rowbottom of Mickle Trafford, a dedicated foster carer of over 250 youngsters. Special recognition was given to three nominees in the form of a lifetime achievement award. Margery Pattener of Sale was celebrated for her tireless fundraising for the Sale and Altrincham Mencap centre she founded, The Rowans, and Maureen Thompson of Leighton was recognised for her inspiring organisation, Tomorrow’s Women Wirral. Dorothy Proctor of Heswall was applauded for her service to the Girl Guides, and at age 103 she is the oldest guide in Wirral.
Some of the county’s business women were also recognised and included jewellery company founder Chloe Moss of Chester and Ruth Jones who runs the 100 acre Waugh Brow Farm at Mobberley.
But as ever only one woman can be singled out as the winner and that honour went to Lynda Hill. Cheshire’s 29th Woman of the Year, Lynda, who lives in Northwich, set up the Joshua Tree after her youngest son, Josh, was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Family life changed and became very focused around caring for a sick child. During Josh’s treatment, Lynda and husband David visited Donna’s Dream House in Blackpool, a trust providing holidays for children and teenagers with life-threatening illnesses. This experience greatly helped the family and they decided to set up their own centre in Cheshire.
In 2005, Lynda and David founded the Joshua Tree Holiday House and Support Centre to provide families of very sick children with support during an incredibly stressful period of their lives. A plot of land in Sandiway has been purchased, and planning permission has been granted for when the £1.9 million needed to build the centre has been raised.
Happily, Josh is now a healthy 15 year old dreams of becoming a paramedic. Along with his siblings Beth, 16, and Adam, 18, he has joined the family in the fundraising process. Almost £1 million has been raised so far, and the highlight of the family’s journey was the launch of their interim support centre by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs, in 2013.
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Announcing Lynda as the winner, Sylvia praised the Joshua Tree as an inspiring organisation driven by a ‘quiet yet resilient package of strength’. Guest of honour, BBC TV personality Sally Nugent, presented Lynda with a commemorative silver salver. Speaking to the room, Sally spoke of how she felt deeply honoured to be in the company of so many amazing women. n