You are currently viewing Women of the Year Lunch 2015

Women of the Year Lunch 2015

TV News London’s Managing Director, Roz Morris, attended this year’s 60th Anniversary Women of the Year Lunch at the InterContinental Hotel, in London’s Park Lane where guests included actress Nicole Kidman, Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain, Coronation Street’s Sally Dynevor (she plays Sally Webster), ITV’s Lorraine Kelly, comedian Jo Brand, and Olympian Katherine Grainger.

Roz, (pictured right seated left with other Women of the Year guests at her table), is a member of the Women of the Year Lunch Nominating Committee and was previously in charge of PR for the Lunch. She said: “This year’s Lunch was very special as everyone was very conscious that it is sixty years since the Lunch started and it is still bringing  together and recognising the achievements of inspiring women from all walks of life.  I walked past one woman today and did a double take. Not because she is very famous but because on her Women of the Year badge it said ‘ Felicity Aston – Polar Explorer’.  That’s not something I ever expected to see, but at the Women of the Year Lunch you have to expect to meet women with extraordinary careers.”  

More than 400 women attended and of these outstanding women, six were honoured with Women of the Year Awards.

The 2015 Women of the Year Award winners are:

  • Cokie van der Velde, Barclays Women of the Year Award winner
  • Kristin Hallenga, DFS Women of the Year Award winner –  Outstanding Young Campaigner
  • Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Prudential Women of the Year Award winner – Lifetime Achievement
  • Jayne SeniorGood Housekeeping Women of the Year Award winner –  Outstanding Achievement
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley, Women of the Year Special Award

Pat Rogers, Every Action Has Consequences charity – ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award winner – this award is chosen by the ITV Lorraine viewers.

They were selected for their perseverance and courage in the face of some of the most serious issues facing women today. Their full citations, with quotes are at the end of this release. The Women of the Year awards are sponsored by Barclays, DFS, Prudential, Good Housekeeping and ITV’s Lorraine.

The Women of the Year award winners were chosen by a judging panel of accomplished women: Sandi Toksvig CBE, Sue MacGregor CBE, Dame Tessa Jowell MP, Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE, Jane Luca, Ronke Phillips, Eve Pollard OBE, Lisa Markwell, Gill Carrick and Sue Walton. ITV Lorraine viewers voted for their Inspirational Woman of the Year by a phone vote.

Sandi Toksvig, President of Women of the Year, said: “Women of the Year has celebrated the wonderful achievements of women since 1955.  Everyone involved is incredibly proud to see so many extraordinary women carrying the torch of those who came before. The remarkable women who make up the attendees and winners at this year’s Lunch are being recognised for their strides in making the world a better place.”

The picture above shows the guests at Roz’s table,  Amy Ginman – Barclays, Sarah Kiveal – Barclays, Susan Stockwell – Artist and Guest of Barclays, Val Riziotis – Primary Head Teacher, Kate Robertson – Founder One Young World, Trishna Bharadia – Mutliple Sclerosis Ambassador and Translator at M-Brain, Elizabeth Henry – National Adviser MEAC at the Church of England, Heather Crosby – Deloittes and Pimonrat Chotewattanakul – Bank of Thailand. 

Every woman who is invited to the event has achieved something extraordinary in whatever walk of life she comes from. The lunch is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate their bravery, determination, compassion and success.

Attendees included: cheesemaker Claire Burt who produces award winning cheeses with Burts Cheese; GB Paralympian Georgie Bullen, who helps tackle unemployment among visually impaired and blind people; WW2 veterans Joy Lofthouse, who flew a range of different aircraft including a Spitfire to strategic battle points and Eileen Younghusband who alerted allied forces to the first V2 bombing of London, whilst serving in the Women’s Auxiliary Air force.

There were many familiar faces amongst the attendees, with other well known faces including Kathy Lette, Lady Kitty Spencer, Katie Melua, Professor Mary Beard, Mel Giedroyc, Natalie Bennett,  Anne Reid, Dame Esther Rantzen, Meera Syal, Baroness Shirley Williams, Professor Dame Sally Davies, Jasmine Hemsley, Justine Greening MP, Maureen Lipman, Baroness Helena Kennedy and Baroness Floella Benjamin.

The ceremony was hosted by Women of the Year President, Sandi Toksvig, and the awards were introduced by actress Nicole Kidman, Coronation Street star Sally Dynevor, newscaster Julie Etchingham and broadcaster Lorraine Kelly.

2015 Women of the Year Award winners

Cokie van der Velde, Barclays Women of the Year Award winner

This Award celebrates Cokie’s personal strength and courage at the forefront fighting against Ebola.

Cokie van der Velde is not your typical grandmother. Since 2014, she has been working as a sanitation expert with victims of Ebola, firstly in the Democratic Republic of Congo when the outbreak was declared then Guinea, and eventually Liberia. She was working with MSF – on one of the grimmest and most dangerous jobs imaginable – disposing of the victims’ bodies in Liberia and Guinea, when the virus is at its most infectious. 

Cokie has travelled to 14 countries working on infectious disease projects. Before joining she taught science and outdoor education in north Yorkshire. Her first mission took her to Turkmenistan for 15 months where she supported the paediatric, infectious diseases, intensive care and maternity wards. In 2008 she headed to Zimbabwe to help fight an outbreak of cholera. In 2010 she was a part of MSF’s response team in Haiti after the earthquake and in October of the same year she worked in India.

Cokie van der Velde said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive the Women of the Year award. Never could we have imagined, in the height of outbreak, to come this far. And I must add that my contribution was only possible as part of the much larger Medecins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors without Borders (MSF) team – made up of international staff like me and many courageous national staff who continue to help keep Ebola under control.

“It is particularly fitting, I think, to receive this accolade for and from women. Ebola hit women in West Africa especially hard, as they are often the ones caring for the sick in their families and communities.  I met and worked alongside many incredible women during the Ebola outbreak and I want to share this honour with all of them too, as recognition for their dedication and bravery.”

Mark McLane, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Barclays, said: “We are very proud to honour this extraordinary woman who has worked tirelessly and often at great personal risk fighting the deadly Ebola infection. Cokie does one of the grimmest and most dangerous jobs imaginable, disposing of the victims’ bodies in Liberia and Guinea, when the virus is at its most infectious. Her work with MSF offers humanitarian assistance across borders and we applaud her courage.”

Kristin Hallenga, DFS Women of the Year Award winner – Outstanding Young Campaigner

This Award celebrates the tremendous work that Kris has done to raise awareness of self-breast examinations in the face of, what many would consider overwhelming, adversity.

When Kristin was just 23 she found a lump on her breast but due to her young age she struggled to be taken seriously. The lump turned out to be terminal cancer. Kristin is now 29 and the cancer has spread to her spine, pelvis, hips, liver and brain. Despite all this, Kristin has made it her mission in life to get girls of her generation familiar with checking their boobs for cancer.

Kristin started Coppafeel! in 2009 with her twin sister, Maren, who was also present at the awards, and the campaign has gone from strength to strength. Kris has worked with The Sun to develop ‘Check ’Em Tuesday’ and launched the Rethink Cancer campaign, which encourages schools to educate their pupils about signs of the disease. Coppafeel! is now working on a so-called ‘bra hijack’, calling for bra manufacturers to sew labels into bras reminding women to check their boobs.

Kristin Hallenga said: “I am incredibly touched and honoured to be a Woman of the Year, particularly considering the fantastic company that I am in. At CoppaFeel! we aim to help not only women, but entire families and I am so pleased that our work is being recognised, and I can only hope that it is making a difference.

“I want to pay tribute to all of those who have helped CoppaFeel! to get the word out and to my family for all of their support. This award is for all of them and I hope that it shines a light on the issue: if we can just keep reminding each other to check our boobs, maybe we can get a little closer to stamping out late detection of breast cancer.”

Helen Normoyle, Chief Marketing Officer at DFS, said. “Kristin Hallenga is true inspiration and a deserving winner of the DFS Enterprise Award. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer at 23, Kris has worked tirelessly to establish, and successfully grow, the CoppaFeel campaign – a campaign that exits to fulfil a single-minded mission to stamp out the late detection of breast cancer, with a particular focus on awareness amongst young people. Her story is a potent reminder of the indomitable power of the human spirit and reminds us all that we can soar beyond our fears and succeed. She is a true role model for many women.”

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Prudential Women of the Year Award winner – Lifetime Achievement

In 1974 Jocelyn was told she had made “the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century” then saw her male supervisor and colleague awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for the work.

Dame Jocelyn, who was born in Belfast, was part of the team that detected the first pulsar – a spinning star made up of neutrons – and the fact that she was not recognised  has been a point of controversy ever since.

Nevertheless, she has since received numerous honours and fellowships and broke quite a few glass ceilings – initially as one of very few women ‘allowed’ to study science at Cambridge, her times as first female president of the Institute of Physics from 2008-2010 and recently appointed the first female president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014. She is also currently visiting Professor of Astrophysics at Mansfield College Oxford. 

Jane Rawnsley, Head of Group Corporate Responsibility, Prudential, said, “We are delighted to be able to make this award to Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a true trailblazer. From her remarkable work in astrophysics to her support of women in science, she is an inspirational figure and a worthy Women of the Year award winner.”

Jayne Senior, Good Housekeeping Women of the Year Award winner – Outstanding Achievement

This award is in recognition of Jayne’s extraordinary bravery and dedication in blowing the whistle on the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal and helping the victims get the justice that they deserved.

Jayne ran Risky Business, an outreach programme for trouble youngsters in Rotherham. Between 1999 and 2011 she reported almost 1,700 cases of grooming or sexual exploitation to the local children’s services. But the council rarely took any action. Frustrated by the system, Jayne made contact with a journalist from The Times and handed over 200 confidential documents that showed that Rotherham’s police and social services had been aware of the sexual abuse happening without taking action.

Jayne’s actions exposed the corruption in Rotherham to the world, and incited national outrage towards the local authority, and now action is finally being taken. The Jay report released last year condemned the “blatant” failure of the authorities to stop or prevent this mass abuse. But Jayne’s work is not done: she is now working with the local government to support the 1,400 identified victims of sexual assault or rape by gangs of men in the town.

Jayne Senior said: “I am honoured to receive the Good Housekeeping Women of the Year award. A new journey has begun for me now and hopefully for Rotherham. I hope it will be seen one day as the town that gets it right, as it develops new services based on the voices of those affected by abuse. I give a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone, including those 1,400 children who trusted me and my team to believe their stories.”

Lindsay Nicholson, Editorial Director, Good Housekeeping, said: ‘We are proud to honour campaigner Jayne Senior, who has shown extraordinary courage and commitment in fighting for 16 years to protect vulnerable girls in Rotherham from ruthless, organised sexual exploitation by a network of paedophiles. She was accused of lying, exaggerating and was even sacked in an attempt to silence her. She stuck to her guns and eventually police, social work and council bosses resigned, and the National Crime Agency has since moved in to investigate. We salute Jayne’s bravery and persistence in giving a voice to 1,400 victims.’

Dame Stephanie Shirley, Women of the Year 60th Anniversary Special Award

Dame Stephanie Shirley is the recipient of The Women of the Year 60th Anniversary Special Award given in memory of Tony Lothian who founded the Women of the Year lunch. Tony’s granddaughter, Louise Vaughan, accepted the award on Dame Shirley’s behalf who was unable to attend the event.

Recognised for the way she has revolutionised the female workforce in this country, she broke many glass ceilings and paved the way for changes that women now take for granted. 

Dame Stephanie is one of the most generous philanthropists in the UK having given away nearly £70 million.  Stephanie has described her life’s work as a ‘crusade for women to be respected for their capabilities’, a commitment that epitomises what Women of the Year stands for.

Dame Stephanie said: “I am thrilled to be honoured on this 60th anniversary of Women of the Year. And wish I could be with you celebrating women’s achievements and our special characteristics.….. My sincere hope is that women can progress to the extent that gender diversity ceases to be an issue.”

ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year Award winner was Pat Rogers. She set up the Every Action Has Consequences charity, which educates people (especially under 25s) on the effects of alcohol and the serious consequences of violent action following teh death of her son Adam when he intervened to try to stop a fight in Blackburn town centre.

“If it saves one person’s life, it would be worth it. But we know that the message is so powerful it’s changing the way young people think,” Pat says

Women of the Year

Women of the Year has recognised, celebrated and inspired women of all backgrounds since 1955, when it was founded by the late Lady Tony (Antonella) Lothian OBE with Lady Georgina Coleridge and Odette Hallowes. The very first event of its kind, Lady Lothian’s aim was to bring together a wide cross-section of working women who had distinguished themselves in their careers or their communities. At a time when the concept of career networking for women was unknown, Women of the Year was, and remains, a gathering for inspirational women and an opportunity to hear the views of world-famous women on important issues.

Women of the Year is sponsored by Barclays, DFS,  Prudential, Good Housekeeping Magazine,  and  ITV’s Lorraine,

For more information visit

@womenofyear #womenoftheyear60