Vodafone sponsors Women of the Year’s Innovation Award and helps to honour women’s bravery, determination, compassion and success.
Lunch began with TV presenter and actress Mel Giedroyc introducing attendees to Betty Webb, Ruth Bourne and Pat Davies, a team of World War Two codebreakers from Bletchley Park – undisputed heroines of the women’s movement – all of whom received a standing ovation from 500 people gathered in London to celebrate the Women of the Year Awards on Monday 14 October.
In the company of former Prime Minister Teresa May, ultra-marathon runner Jasmin Paris, Iraqi broadcaster Amal Al Murdaris, and hundreds of others, a handful of women were honoured specifically with awards for the work they’ve undertaken to try to make the world a better place.
Vodafone sponsored the award for innovation, and our Director of Business UK, Anne Sheehan, was on stage to present it to space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who has worked tirelessly to get school-age girls involved with science and maths.
Among other winners were Lizzy Hall, who won the Wellness Warrior award for her work with Hygiene Bank, an organisation that helps communities across the UK tackle hygiene poverty. And Free Your Mind founder Natasha Benjamin, who has spearheaded support for victims of child domestic violence and trauma, was presented with the Woman of the Year award by broadcaster Lorraine Kelly.
Kelly also accepted an award that celebrated her 35 years in broadcasting. In a rousing acceptance speech, she spoke about the importance of “passing it on”. She said she was glad women no longer “pulled up the ladder” when they became successful, and noted with happiness that women had begun to help other women rise up in their professions.
“We have got to inspire the next generation and make it easier for them,” Kelly said. “Easier, certainly, than it was for me.”
“It’s quite scary out there just now. It’s quite divisive and I guess we try and shine a light on things maybe people should talk about a little bit more. That’s why I am so pleased about our wonderful, wonderful women and all the work they do.
“As far as I am concerned, we are all winners.”
Founded in 1955 by journalists Tony, Marchioness of Lothian, Lady Georgina Coleridge, and Odette Hallowes – the most highly decorated woman during World War II – the Women of the Year awards is a truly inspirational occasion.
Hallowes was the first woman to be awarded the George Cross, and the only woman to be both awarded the George Cross and appointed a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
For 65 years, the awards have celebrated trailblazing, eminent, brave and talented women of all backgrounds and ages, and has honoured them for their dedication to their fields of work.