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Wanted: Inspiring Women Awards seek nominations for North West’s most extraordinary success stories

By Andrew Bardsley

Nominations for this year’s prestigious Inspiring Women Awards are being sought ahead of the organisation’s annual charity lunch in May.

Still going strong 21 years after being founded, the event has previously attracted the likes of MasterChef star Gregg Wallace and newsreader John Suchet.

Founder and organiser Jacqueline Hughes-Lundy, from Hale, was originally motivated by her own personal tragedy and has worked tirelessly to recognise inspirational women in the North West and North Wales.

“We look for the back stories behind the people,” she told MM.

“It is great to be successful, but when women have been through such a struggle and come out the other end it is inspirational.”

After suffering miscarriages, Ms Hughes-Lundy decided to do some fundraising for Tommy’s Campaign, who fund research on the causes of miscarriages, premature birth and stillbirth.

“It started as a one-off to raise funds for Tommy’s in 1992, and I did an interview in the local press, and was asked what I was going to do next,” she said.

“I hadn’t planned on anything but said something, then it was in print and I couldn’t go back on it!”

She held a charity lunch event which raised £2000 for Tommy’s, with more than 100 people attending.

Ms Hughes-Lundy was further motivated to continue when a client asked to book a corporate table for the following year’s event, which as of yet was not planned.

Realising that no-one else was celebrating the achievements of women in a corporate environment, she wanted to right that wrong.

Leap forward to 2013, and the Inspiring Women Awards have become a household name in the North West, with stars including John Suchet and Gregg Wallace guest speaking at the annual dinners.

“Some celebrities have come to our dinners, expecting it to be just another charity dinner, but have left feeling uplifted, with the room brought to tears hearing about these stories,” said Ms Hughes-Lundy.

“We know the right people have been nominated when we see the responses on their faces.

“They are truly shocked because they feel what they are doing is nothing out of the ordinary.”

A stand-out case of this, for the Inspiring Women Awards founder, was Gee Walker, who won the Community Award in 2009.

Her son Anthony was murdered in a racist attack in Huyton, Liverpool in August 2005, and she has since forgiven his killers, Michael Barton and Paul Taylor.

“At first I couldn’t understand how she could forgive someone who had done something so terrible,” said Ms Hughes-Lundy.

“But when I met her I understood, and realised what an amazing woman she is.”

Another memorable woman was Kate Spall, last year’s Community Award winner, who continues to fight the NHS to get drugs for cancer patients who have been refused treatments.

Ms Spall’s efforts ensured her mother Pamela, who was battling kidney cancer, became the first person to receive the new cancer drug in Wales.

Even after her mother’s death in 2006, Ms Spall continued the fight, extending the lives of 28 patients.

“The fact that she continued campaigning even after she had been successful in getting her mum’s treatment was amazing,” said Ms Hughes-Lundy.

BBC Radio Manchester presenter Andy Crane will host this year’s event, which takes place in Manchester on May 17.

The awards are divided up into six different categories; business, community, entrepreneurs, creative and media, the Inspiring Young Woman Award, and a new publicly-voted BBC Radio Manchester heroine award.

Three finalists for each category are invited to the dinner where they are invited to tell their story.

The 2013 awards are sponsored by Deloitte, MMU, Cheshire Life, BBC Radio Manchester and Olivia Henry Associates.

To nominate, visit www.inspiringawards.co.uk. The closing date for nominations is March 15.

Image courtesy of inspiringawards.co.uk, with thanks

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