Leeds’s Dame Fanny Waterman honoured at Women of the Year Awards

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The founder of one of Leeds’s flagship cultural events has been honoured at the Women of the Year Awards.

Dame Fanny Waterman, who set up the Leeds International Piano Competition, was recognised for her ‘extraordinary’ contribution to the city’s music scene with the DFS Women of the Year Award - Lifetime Achievement.

Waterman, the daughter of a Russian Jewish emigrant to Leeds, has been giving concert performances locally since 1941. Feeling that young British pianists needed tougher competition to enable them to match their foreign counterparts, she established the contest in 1961 and did not step down as chairman until 2015, aged 95.

The widow of rugby league player Danny Jones was named Inspirational Woman of the Year, an award sponsored by ITV’s Lorraine. Classical singer Lizzie Jones was left with baby twins when the Keighley Cougars star collapsed on the pitch and died from an undiagnosed heart condition, and she has since campaigned for rugby players to receive mandatory heart screening.

The Halifax mum was nominated by her friend Laura Simeunovich, who said:-

“Lizzie is inspirational. Whilst dealing with her own grief and raising her children alone, she is making sure other people are safe, and is trying to save families going through what she has.

“Danny would be exceptionally proud of his wife. She is a fantastic role model for her children, and they will grow up knowing that their mummy is saving lives in their daddy’s name.”

And a mother who lost her son in the Hillsborough disaster received the Special Award on behalf on all of the families affected by the tragedy in 1989.

Margaret Aspinall’s son James died at the match, and she has since chaired the Hillsborough Family Support Group. She was presented with her award by prime minister Theresa May.

“Having lost their loved ones in the most appalling circumstances, they then spent 27 years searching for the truth with extraordinary dignity.

“This April, when the fresh inquests delivered their conclusions, they made clear to the whole nation what the Hillsborough families have known to be true from the beginning - that the fans were blameless,” said Mrs May.

More than 400 women attended a lunch and awards ceremony.

The Good Housekeeping Women of the Year Award went to Liz Clegg, who has volunteered to help women and children living in the Calais Jungle, while Seema Aziz, who founded the Care Foundation of schools in Pakistan, won the Barclays Women of the Year Award.

Marjorie Wallace was presented with the Prudential Women of the Year Award for her work campaigning for the availability of mental health services in the UK for the past 30 years.