Forward Ladies Celebrates the Success of Business Women in Yorkshire, North East and Scotland

Forward Ladies has announced the winners of the National Awards and Summit for 2018, sponsored by HSBC UK. The Awards took place on Friday 14th September at a celebration lunch at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Stephenson Quarter, Newcastle before an inspirational audience of senior and influential business leaders.

The esteemed National Awards were introduced nine years ago to acknowledge and promote the fact that women are an integral and invaluable part of every business. This year, Forward Ladies continues to recognise and honour the most respected businesswomen, across a wide range of business categories.

Forward Ladies Managing Director Griselda Togobo said: “It is 100 years since women first got the right to vote in the UK, but gender equality remains elusive. Whilst we have clearly made progress over the years, our mission to achieve equality and bring diversity to leadership roles is not yet complete.

“That said, this has been another fantastic year for women and that should be celebrated, and through our National Awards we are once again delighted to be working in partnership with HSBC UK to showcase the very best women in business here in the UK.   

“The calibre of entries has been increasing year on year, and our regional shortlists are the everyday heroines, trailblazers and role models who have succeeded despite enormous challenges. They deserve recognition.” 


Jennifer Crawley, Head of Performance for Small Business Banking at HSBC UK and chief judge for Forward Ladies, said: “We’re proud to be working with Forward Ladies as part of our ongoing commitment to support women in business across the UK.

“Each year we are inspired by the number of high-calibre entries, and this year has highlighted the exceptionally talented businesswomen we have in the UK. These entrants are the future entrepreneurs of our country and play a critical role in our economy.” 

The eleven category winners will now take part in a judging day in Manchester in November, before a distinguished panel of business leaders, where they will join finalists from regional events in the Midlands, London and the South East, and the North West, Wales and Ireland. The overall national winner will be announced at a grand finale to be held in Leeds on the 7th December.

The keynote speaker was Professor Turner OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Teesside University. Jane has a Doctorate in Business Leadership and is an experienced and qualified Executive Coach having coached over 220 leaders from all sectors over the last 16 years. She is a specialist in authentic leader development and spoke passionately about her career journey.

The Awards were delighted to welcome back HSBC UK as key sponsor, and are supported by many sector leading businesses including tastecard, Leeds Beckett University, LCF Law, Winburn Glass Norfolk, GKN Aerospace, Carrwood Park, Grant Thornton UK, London North Eastern Railway, Institute of Directors, Yorkshire Post and Miles Smith the Insurer.

Trophies were presented to the winners in each category: 

Emerging Leader Category

Winner: Helen Roberts

Principal Bid Manager & Team Leader at Telefonica UK (known as O2), leading multi-functional teams to win strategic bids alongside leading a team of high performing Bid Managers. She is also responsible for leading improvement projects for systems and communications across bid, driving efficiency and performance. Helen is also a STEM mentor.

Corporate Winner Category

Winner: Ann Hough

Huddersfield Town Football Club, Operations Director. She is the longest serving member of the Huddersfield Town Board of Directors, having initially joined the Club as PA to the Club Secretary in 1993. Ann is responsible for the Club's football administration, match day operation and wider organisational aspects.

STEM Rising Star Category

Winner: Naomi Morrow

Head of Innovation at Sunderland Software City (Digital Catapult NETV). Naomi enables commercial opportunities for tech SMEs through her open innovation work with businesses that helps them understand and implement emerging technologies.

STEM Leader Category

Winner: Victoria Woodings

Global CEO for the Principle Group. Having left school at 16, Victoria joined Principle Group in 2008 as part of the Finance Team with a turnover of around £24m) and progressed through the ranks before taking the Global CEO role in 2017. Turnover is now over £200m.

International Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Rebecca Bonnington

Partner at Shirlaws (UK), joining the Group in 2017. She works with SME and family run businesses to grow their enterprises sustainably. Rebecca also coaches executives in businesses of all sizes and takes ambitious organisations through the Shirlaw's journey.

Social Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Jackie Irwin 

Co-Founder of Dearne Valley Personal Development Centre - a registered charity set up in 2012 with her husband John. As a former lecturer of fashion/textiles, and qualified secondary school teacher, Jackie has a flair for the creative and is a passionate and talented artist.

Start Up Category     

Winner: Ellie MacDonald

MacComms Founder and managing director has ten years’ experience in PR, marketing and communications and founded her Leeds PR agency MacComms in 2015.

Young Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Tamma Carel

Director and Senior Environmental Consultant at Imvelo limited; Her passion is STEM engagement and working with businesses in all sectors to ensure environmental legal compliance, reduce environmental risk, prevent pollution and increase resource efficiency.

Female Entrepreneur Category

Winner: Sharon Needle

Managing partner at Needle Partners. After returning to the UK following many years practising in Malaysia, Sharon worked in senior roles at Eversheds, Keeble Hawson, US firm Coudert Brothers and Watson Burton. She set up Needle Partners in 2007.

Public Sector / Academia / Not For Profit Category

Winner: Alex Miles

Managing director of West Yorkshire Learning Providers Ltd, managing a network of training providers & colleges across Yorkshire, particularly in relation to Ofsted preparation, audit & compliance support and levy / non-levy health checks.

Diversity Champion Category 

Winner: Noor Ali 

Senior Buying Manager - World Foods, Morrisons, responsible for ranging world foods products for their customers. Noor has achieved many awards including most recently the BEM. Charity work and mentoring are a vital part of her work, both in schools and prisons.

 The mother of all awards #FLNationalAwards & Summit 2018 is coming to your region with events in Manchester, Birmingham, London and Leeds! It’s an inspirational programme showcasing diversity in business, recognising the doers, trailblazers & inclusive leaders across the UK. Join the conversation and don’t miss out - HERE 

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