ANOTHER crop of remarkable Yorkshire women was celebrated at a prestigious event yesterday.
But, although there was resounding applause for category winners at the 28th Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards, there was a poignant silence too in memory of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire, fatally stabbed just under a fortnight ago as she taught at the school she loved.
Mrs Maguire was remembered for her commitment and passion for teaching, for putting her pupils’ needs first and for helping them realise their dreams and aspirations. Her death caused shock across the world and resulted in a mass outpouring of grief in her home city.
A citation read: “She was one of the shining stars of the teaching profession and her achievements and bravery deserve to be recognised with the highest honours.”
There were poignant scenes as the Royal Armouries simply fell silent in a fitting tribute to a teacher remembered as “mother of the school”.
Elsewhere, the choice of the Royal Armouries as the venue was perhaps most symbolic for winner of the Jane Tomlinson Award For Courage, Coun Valerie Binney, whose determined two-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease has won her universal admiration, quite aside from her service to the people of her Thornton and Allerton ward in Bradford.
A citation written by an unnamed council colleague spoke of Coun Binney’s spirit and smile in the face of adversity, which has also included the loss of her husband earlier this year.
It continued: “The noticeable thing about Valerie is that her spirit can be seen in her lively eyes and she keeps cheerful and smiling all the time – for which I am full of admiration.
”Far from hiding away of feeling sorry for herself, Valerie has continued to work on the council and I have witnessed her daily struggle, especially after her husband died suddenly. She now lives alone but has adapted and is always cheerful; a true inspiration.”
Other awards went to Freight Train founder Lesley O’Brien, who was named Woman of Achievement in Business, 17-year-old competitive rock-climber Sianagh Gallagher, who was this year’s Woman of Achievement in Sport, and Morrisons employee Codie Pearce, also 17, who was presented with the award for the Young Achiever of the Year.
Special awards also went to actress Gaynor Faye, who was presented with the Yorkshire Rose Award and to BBC Leeds presenter and journalist Liz Green, who was given a Special Recognition Award in tribute to her work helping to raise the profile of Yorkshire Women of Achievement.
The event raised money for the Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds.
Its palliative care services manager Helen Ankrett said: “Once again, we were blown away by the immense support from our local community. This year, we raised more than £45,000 – a tremendous result – and this generosity will help us to ensure the people of Yorkshire are always able to receive the care they want in order to live the life they choose.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Maguire will also be remembered today at football matches organised by former Corpus Christi pupils, helping to raise money for a permanent memorial at the school.
Held at the at Yorkshire Amateur Football Club’s home ground at Chapel Allerton in Leeds, kick off is at noon, with admission £3. The first match will be between a Corpus Christi’s and Huddersfield Town’s women, while a match between the Corpus Christi Men and a Yorkshire Amateur XI follows at 3pm.