Forward thinking women get their reward
Women who had faced colossal personal challenges were presented with trophies at an event which highlighted the strength in depth of Yorkshire’s business community.
The lunchtime event, which attracted a host of major sponsors and a 300-strong audience to The Queens Hotel in Leeds, was organised by Forward Ladies, a networking organisation that provides practical support for women who are involved in all aspects of corporate life.
Etta Cohen, the founder of Leeds-based Forward Ladies, said: “While the current economic downturn continues to pose challenges for business growth, we firmly believe that with help and support, and being a member of the Forward Ladies community, we can work together to get through a difficult time.”
The title of Business Woman of the Year, was snapped up by Liz Colleran who created her company, Duvalay, after experiencing uncomfortable nights sleeping on a caravan mattress. She devised a portable memory foam mattress topper with a shaped duvet, which has proved a hit in the UK, and is also expected to take off in the US market.
Ms Colleran, from Gomersal, West Yorkshire, was also the winner in the Manufacturing Business Woman of the Year category,
The winner of the Corporate Business Women of the Year Award – Joanne Roney the chief executive of Wakefield Council – was unable to attend the ceremony, but her award, presented by Pamela Lindsay Dunn, managing director of Hays Yorkshire, was collected on her behalf by colleagues. Ms Roney has been credited with strengthening the council’s customer focus.
The Home-Based Business Woman of the Year Award went to Louise Holmes, who received her award from Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of the Yorkshire Post. Ms Holmes, who was also a finalist in the manufacturing category, is a founding partner of Yummy Yorkshire, a Denby Dale based award-winning dairy ice cream producer which supplies restaurants, delis, farm shops and visitor attractions across Yorkshire.
Although there was no overall winner of the International Business Woman of the Year category this year, Deborah Robinson of Harrogate received a Highly Commended award from Mark Robson, director UKTI Yorkshire and Humber.
Following a career in senior management, Ms Robinson, from Harrogate, spent time as a freelance film critic before moving on to screenwriting.
She now runs her own production and entertainment company, Starjack Entertainment. Her first production and directorial debut, Last Will and Embezzlement documents the financial exploitation of the elderly and stars Hollywood icon Mickey Rooney.
A woman who helps to promote economic regeneration was honoured in the Not for Profit Business category, which was presented by East Coast.
The winner, Lisa Grant, is centre manager of St Catherine’s Church and Centre in Wakefield, which is based inside one of Yorkshire’s most deprived communities. The PA of the Year, was presented by Naomi Martin, the sales manager at Q Hotels, to Heather Connaughton who is PA to the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield.
The Professional Services Business Woman of the Year was presented by Mark Browne, the director of JM Glendinning, to Fiona Kendall of law firm Jones Myers from Leeds. Ms Kendall was one of the first UK family lawyers to be dual qualified in Scottish and English law.
The Property Industry Business Woman of the Year was presented by Chris Conderson of Amplitude AV to Teresa Galley.
Ms Galley, from Doncaster, picked up construction skills from a DIY guide before developing a property portfolio. The Retail Business Woman of the Year was presented by Jeff Banks, to Lucy Scott Paul, who set up a ‘haven for sweet fanatics’ called Bah Humbugs in Masham, North Yorkshire.
Leeds-based entrepreneur Catherine Shuttleworth received a special award to mark her contribution as a role model for other women.