Yorkshire honours its inspirational women

A minutes silence for murdered teacher Ann Maguire at 2014 Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
A minutes silence for murdered teacher Ann Maguire at 2014 Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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ANOTHER crop of remarkable Yorkshire women were celebrated at a prestigious event in Leeds.

More than 600 people attended the Royal Armouries for the 29th annual Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards, hosted by Sue Ryder - Wheatfields Hospice.

Held in the honour of Leeds-born Lady Sue Ryder, the prestigious awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of Yorkshire’s most inspirational women.

A total of 49 nominations were made in the five official categories. However this year, the judging panel decided it was not appropriate to award the education award but instead pay tribute to Leeds teacher Ann Maguire - and all women who work in education.

Those gathered held a poignant silence in tribute to the popular teacher, who was fatally stabbed just under two weeks ago as she taught at the school she loved.

She was remembered as a “mother of the school”, for her commitment and passion for teaching and helping pupils’ realise their dreams and aspirations.

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.”

The annual event is a significant fundraiser for the Sue Ryder - Wheatfields Hospice and was sponsored this year by Morrisons, which has chosen the charity as its official partner. The ceremony yesterday was expected to raise £45,000 for the cause.

Helen Ankrett, the hospice’s palliative care services manager, said: “Once again, we were blown away by the immense support from our local community for this year’s Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards.

“The awards offer an opportunity to recognise some of the most fantastic women in the area, whilst raising much-needed funds to help us continue providing incredible care.

“This year, we raised more than £45,000 - a tremendous result - and this generosity will help us to ensure that the people of Yorkshire are always able to receive the care they want in order to live the life they choose.” Extra special awards were also given to two women who have gone above and beyond for Sue Ryder – Wheatfields Hospice - 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 the awards.

Overall Woman of Achievement 2014 winner was Bradford Coun Valerie Binney whose courageous two-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease has won her universal admiration. She also won the Jane Tomlinson Award for Courage.

A citation written by an unnamed council colleague spoke of Coun Binney’s spirit 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.”

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.

Jess Carmichael.

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