Inspirational North East women from all walks of life came together to celebrate their achievements at the annual Glass Slipper Awards.
The glittering event was held at Newcastle Gateshead Hilton on Friday – organised by and raising money for The Chronicle Sunshine Fund, which provides specialist equipment to local disabled children.
The all-female line-up of winners included fundraising cancer patient Rebekah Simpson, ITV newsreader Pam Royle and Chronicle’s very own chief reporter Katie Davies.
Among the speakers were Helen McArdle, who founded a care business in her own name, Sunshine Fund director Caroll Pattison, and Heaton mum Rachel Kaczmar whose two-year-old son Max was provided with a specialised cot by the charity last summer to help him cope with a rare genetic condition.
Rachel said: “It was an honour to speak in a room full of so many amazing women and I was delighted to be able to tell my family’s story and show how important the Sunshine Fund has been for us.
“I am so grateful to everyone who supports the charity. If it wasn’t for them then families like ours and children like Max wouldn’t get the help they so desperately need.”The Best Newcomer prize, sponsored by intu Metrocentre, went to Rachel Miller for her disability awareness work at Smile Through Sport, while North East Business Leader, sponsored by Newcastle Gateshead Hilton, was given to Carole Beverley, marketing and communications manager of TSG.
Carole, who is involved in organising this year’s British Transplant Games in Gateshead, said: “It is not often I am left speechless but this was one of those occasions.
“There were so many amazing women in the audience and I was completely chuffed just to be nominated.
“I am a big believer that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I have been lucky throughout my life.”
The ceremony also saw the North East Champion award, sponsored by Helen McArdle Care, go to Debbie Ross of Gateshead Council, who has been instrumental in bringing major sporting events to the region, and the Lifetime Achievement gong, sponsored by Gordon Brown Law Firm, was bestowed upon Pam Royle.
Pam said: “It was an honour and privilege, especially when so many inspirational women were considered – to actually receive it has blown me away.
“I am delighted that the event was organised by the Sunshine Fund because I am a patron and this gives us all a chance to make a difference to North East families’ lives.”
Meanwhile, the Women in the Community award, sponsored by ncjMedia, went to homeless charity Making Winter Warmer’s Kerry Lister-Pattinson and Jo-Anne Burns; Woman of the Year, sponsored by intu Eldon Square, went to Rebekah Simpson; and Katie Davies collected the Young Achiever gong, sponsored by Karen Richardson Financial Services.
Rebekah, who has had cancer since 2009 and has helped raised more than £10,000 for Cancer Research since despite that cancer now being terminal, said: “I couldn’t believe it and am not sure I really deserve it.
“This is an award for all my supporters and we are honoured to receive it.”
Amy Whyte is business development manager at Gordon Brown Law Firm, which was the headline sponsor of the event.
She said: “This is the second year we have sponsored the awards and last year I couldn’t believe how many impressive women there are out there in the North East and it is lovely to see.
“This year it has been so hard to choose between our fantastic nominees and it is fantastic to recognise their achievements.
“We will continue to support the Sunshine Fund as it is such a fantastic cause.”
A raffle with prizes including a stay at the Hilton, a day at Kielder Water for two, and vouchers for intu Metro Centre, As You Like It, Eldon Square and the Theatre Royal was drawn too.
Clare Savory, events manager at the Sunshine Fund, added: “Congratulations to everyone that was short-listed for our awards – they are all amazing ladies.
“There were some fantastic achievements in the room today, which were truly inspirational.
“Many thanks to all of our awards sponsors, as without support from companies like these we would not be able to put on such a fantastic event.
“A special thanks must go to main sponsor Gordon Brown Law Firm for their support for the last two years.”Special awards also went to Barclays as Corporate of the Year, and to Wendy Peffers of Gordon Brown Law Firm for being Fundraiser of the Year.
Wendy, who collected over £5,000 for the Sunshine Fund when she trekked the Great Walk of China last summer, said: “It was absolutely overwhelmed to win in a room of such inspirational women and I accept it for all those who have supported me over the last year.”