There were tears and tales of tribulation but more than that it was about tenacity and toughness.
Renowned for their spirit and determination, that was celebrated in abundance at the Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards 2017.
In a glittering presentation at the Royal Armouries yesterday, awards were given for outstanding and inspirational women in a number of categories.
It is the 31st year that the awards, organised by Sue Ryder – Wheatfields Hospice, have taken place and there was extra poignancy as this year’s Yorkshire Rose award was read out.
This year’s recipient was murdered MP Jo Cox - friend, colleague and campaigner to many of the guests - being recognised for her support of women in politics, but also her championing of diversity, sheer energy and belief in a better world.
Sister Kim Leadbeater said: “It is a privilege and honour to receive this but there is only one reason I am doing this. It is a painful truth that we struggle with on a daily basis.
“However, the one thing that has empowered us to keep going is the kindness shown by the people of Yorkshire.”
The other top award was reserved for Bana Gora, CEO of the Muslim Women’s council. She was named overall Woman of Achievement 2017 and also the winner of the Community Impact award.
She challenges stereotypes Muslim women face whilst supporting them to have a voice and providing internships and mentoring.
She also created initiatives such as the Curry Circle which feeds around a hundred homeless, predominately males, with drug, alcohol and mental issues.
Mrs Gora said: “I am just really honoured. This is the first award I have won so I am really happy to be here to win not just one but two. Our religion and our faith teaches us to help neighbours and it is our neighbours that are going hungry in the 21st century. We have got to come together. What inspires me is social injustice and we have got to do our bit.”
Other winners were:
Gill Hodgson (Business), boss of Flowers from the Farm, Gill is campaigning to get flowers back by hospital bedsides and improving access to seasonal funeral flowers.
Rose McCarthy (Education), supporting refugee women in Leeds and the UK to access healthcare in pregnancy and works for the Refugee Council training volunteers to help Syrian refugees settle in UK towns.
Nicola Greenan (Arts), helped set up the LS14 Trust in Seacroft and chaired the Leeds Music Trust for young musicians with disabilities. At East Street Arts, she led the set-up of ArtistHouse 45, working with the council to provide an empty home in Beeston and is advising on the Leeds bid for European Capital of Culture.
Izzy Palmer (sport), diagnosed with cerebral palsy before she was a year old, she began horse riding at two. At 13 was national restricted champion and selected by team GBR, she is about compete in her first international abroad.
Leanne Owen (courage), at 42 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and had to leave her job as a fire-fighter. Last year she set herself the target of raising £1,000 by cycling 477 miles during Parkinson’s Awareness week but made £10,000 for the charity.
Dr Sarah Heath (science and technology), developed a distinctive research programme in nuclear engineering which led to an updated UK response planning for nuclear terrorism..
Lydia Mellen (young achiever), before her seventh birthday was diagnosed with liver cancer, had a successful transplant then took up cycling becoming a double winner in the British Transplant Games and has been invited to compete for Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in Malaga.