Simply inspirational

PUBLISHED: 00:16 05 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:24 20 February 2013

Simply inspirational

Simply inspirational

The Sue Ryder Women of Achievement Awards 2011 at the Hilton Hotel, Reading introduced us to some true local stars.

Theyve all achieved in different ways. Some had difficult starts in life, or more than their fair share of tribulations to overcome. Some are busy breaking down boundaries, making sure others have a chance in life, or are a driving force and catalyst in their field.

All the winners and nominees at this, the fifth annual awards, have stories to tell and well be catching up with as many as possible over the next few months.

In the meantime we join Sue Ryder in thanking sponsors Invesco Perpetual, Charlton House & Co and SMR, the Higgs Group and awards ambassadors Kelly Chambers, Megan Henwood, Helen Parker and Fiona Devine. We also record their gratitude for some splendid auction and raffle prizes. Now, on to our Women of Achievement.


Elaine Marshall

Elaine lost her husband to cancer when she had two young children and was pregnant with a third. Somehow she also managed to look after her sick sisters children for eight years. Today she has two ladies with learning difficulties living with her and finds time to be a Beaver Scout leader. Her dream is to buy a house by the sea and use it as a holiday home for people with special needs.

Other shortlisted nominees: Lucie Henwood, who helps run the Acorn Theatre Music Company; Hilary ORourke, who assists numerous charities in fundraising, including PACT, WAMDSAD, Berkshire Society for the Blind and THC; and Sue Wright, Ladies Captain at Temple Golf Club, who has led superb fundraising for Sue Ryder.


Sharon Warnes

Sharon is the music therapist at Headway, funded by the Henley Festival Trust. She works with people with acquired brain injuries, using music to give them a better quality of life.

Other shortlisted nominees: Nurse Julie Hughes, who leads the community childrens team at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and supports the Alexander Devine Childrens Hospice Service; and Dr Lisa Silver, a much loved GP at the Nettlebed surgery, who also writes for medical journals and lectures on healthcare.


Sam Brown

Vocal cord problems have restricted the singing and musical career of Sam, Joe Browns daughter, but she now teaches and has inspired others. In particular she started the International Ukelele Orchestra of Sonning Common and trekked to the Himalayas to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Other shortlisted nominees: Jo Southwell, director and founder of Henley Fringe Festival gives up much of her time to get others, particularly young people, involved in the arts; and Hen Coleman, artist and printmaker who works closely with the Acorn Music Theatre Company.


Lisa-Marie Gibbs

This designer and artist runs Art Junction, a project for people with mental health problems, and also visits care homes. Lisa-Marie takes a trip to Cambodia each year to work with children there.

Other shortlisted nominees: Christina Brown, a champion of the arts with a 30 years career at the BBC; and Charlotte Fielder, who having been born with a missing left hand, wrote a book to help children cope with upper limb deficiency.


Sarah Simmonds

Sarah has spent a lifetime working with the Riding for the Disabled Association, changing the life experience of many youngsters and seeing the joy shared with their families as a result.

Other shortlisted nominees: Sue Scanlon, dedicated riding coach who has also trained groups at Hall Place, Oxfordshire, to obtain Duke of Edinburgh awards; and fitness instructor Krystle Hurley (see Young Achiever of the Year).


Maggie Urwin

Maggie is the pastoral deputy at The Piggott School, helping to raise 12,000 for charity. She is also busy in the Neighbourhood Action Group and supports the Parents Association.

Other shortlisted nominees: Joy ONeill, teacher and chair of governors at a Bucks school with 75% service children on the roll, founded the Service Children Support Network; and Jennifer Blain, who established the Denning Montessori School in Fawley 20 years ago.


Kathryn James

A solicitor in the corporate recovery team at Boyes Turner, Kathryn met QC Mark Phillips and discovered his wife Debbie had died of cervical cancer, leaving three children. She organised a Three Peaks Challenge that raised 35,000 for the Debbie Fund in support of the UCL Cancer Research Institute.

Other shortlisted nominee: Lisa Hughes, dedicated worker at the Hambleden Estate where events raise money for charities such as Combat Stress.


Nadine Widdows

The founder of Pink Saucer Virtual Assistant, which provides high quality admin work for time-pressured professionals, Nadine now runs a team of six. She also helped organise a pampering charity night which raised funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Other shortlisted nominee: Ceri-Jane Hackling, who started Cerub PR in Bucks from her bedroom after redundancy eight years ago.


Helene Raynsford

The 2008 Paralympic champion is an adaptive rower in the Great Britain Squad at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake, having previously won silver in the basketball team. Helene visits schools to inspire young people and talk about her life experiences.

Other shortlisted nominees: Nicola Joyce, who has twice swum the Channel, completed a Half Iron Man Triathlon and is a champion bodybuilder; and Jennifer Buckham, Henley Hockey Club Ladies coach, player and role model chosen this year to play in the England Ladies Masters Team O40.


Elizabeth Kuhnke

In the last year the founder and MD of has Kuhnke Communications has worked for 18 different community organisations and charities. She works long hours to fit in her pro bono work as well as being an author.

Other shortlisted nominees: Nancy Lalor, who goes the extra mile with East Berkshire Education Partnership to secure work experience places for youngsters and also volunteers for Womens Refuge; and Adrienne Jacobs, the always busy chairwoman of the Thames Valley Lady Taverners, who has led committees raising 75,000 in under three years for good causes.


Krystle Hurley

Now, 26, Krystle was a mum at 13, ending up in care and caught up in the criminal world. She turned round her life and is now a qualified fitness instructor for Creativity in Sport, specialising in helping youngsters heading down the wrong path. Shes someone they can identify with, and believe in.

Other shortlisted nominees: Alice Baillie, whose son Rhys was born with Downs Syndrome when she was just 15, and since then she has raised thousands for associated charities; and Gemma Fishel who overcame chronic illness as a small child to compete for GB in Synchronised Figure Skating before being struck down with ME.


Sukhjit Kaur Dhaliwal

The first Asian woman Mayor of Slough has a history of working as a carer and volunteer, always fighting for the rights of women, particularly vulnerable ones. As Mayor she is championing people who work at grassroots level in the voluntary sector and aims to set a record for fundraising during her term.

Other shortlisted nominees: Vivien Martin, who has raised a family but found time to volunteer for Tenovus cancer charity, take part in Cancer Research runs and be a steward and Horse Secretary at Henley Show; and Selina Avent, a long term visitor to schools, WIs and youth groups, where she talks about issues pertaining to deaf people, as well collecting money for charities and volunteering.

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