Our President and Ambassadors
Meet the Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards President and Ambassadors
Our President

Sally Lindsay

Actress and Presenter

Sally Lindsay first appeared on stage at the Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards in 2018 to present an award to the women of the Suffragette movement, and returned the following year as its keynote speaker.

Sally is a native of Manchester and read English at Hull University where she also got the acting bug.

Sally got her first break in the ground-breaking sitcom The Royle Family. Roles in both Phoenix Nights and Fat Friends followed soon after. Sally then went on to create one of Britain’s best loved barmaids, ‘Shelley Unwin’ in Coronation Street, where she enjoyed a very happy five years.

Upon leaving, Sally moved very successfully into theatre appearing in the sell-out A Taste of Honey and Everybody Loves a Winner at the Royal Exchange.

Since then, Sally has appeared in numerous television shows including C5 hit dramas Cold Call & Intruder, the BAFTA winning Murdered For Being Different, Dial M for Middlesbrough, Still Open All Hours, Ordinary Lies and Moving On to name just a few. With her friend Suranne Jones, Sally created Scott and Bailey for Red Productions, in which she also starred. She also headed up seven series of Sky1’s Mount Pleasant.

Sally’s film credits include Pond Life, and the voice of ‘Piella’ in the Oscar-nominated animation A Matter of Loaf and Death.  Sally is also the voice of Halifax in the mult-award nominated C5 animation series The World According to Grandpa.

Sally has also diversified into presenting and fronted the BBC Documentary Emmeline Pankhurst: The Making of a Manchester Militant. In 2018, Sally filmed the new documentary Posh Hotels with Sally and Nigel for Channel 5 which has led to 2 series of Sally Lindsay’s Posh Weekends.

Sally is Creative Director of Saffron Cherry Productions with whom with created, produced, wrote and starred in The Madame Blanc Mysteries for C5 & Acorn TV.

Committed to inspiring, celebrating and promoting female role models across all areas of society and the business community, Sally will help the Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards continue to celebrate the achievements of women across the UK.

Our Ambassadors

Dr Sharon Redrobe

OBE BVetMed DZooMed MRCVS

CEO of Twycross Zoo – East Midland Zoological Society Limited

With a life‐long fascination for wildlife and a strong belief in the role modern zoos must play in conservation, Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE has been leading both the operational and cultural transformation at Twycross Zoo since her appointment as CEO in 2013.

A dynamic leader, Sharon has spearheaded a transformation of the zoo into a world-class conservation organisation and visitor attraction.

A trained veterinarian with over 25 years’ experience of working in academia, the charity sector and business, Sharon’s unique combination of animal welfare sensibility, scientific rigour and business acumen has been instrumental in the delivery of the strategic vision for Twycross Zoo – most recently securing £19.9million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, for a National Science and Conservation Centre with the support of Dr Luke Evans MP for Hinckley and Bosworth, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and various leading Midland’s universities.

Sharon was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2017 for her services to Skills, Science and the Economy.

As a former winner of the category ‘Business Woman of the Year’, Sharon joined our board of directors in 2021 and is committed to promoting and celebrating the achievements of female role models across the UK and all areas of society and business.

Sharon’s efforts have also been recognised through awards including Institute of Directors West Midlands Director of the Year 2016, East Midlands Chamber Team of the Year 2016, Inspirational Woman of the Year Enterprising Women Awards and East Midlands Chamber 2017.

Emma Heathcote-James

Founder – Little Soap Company

Ahead of its’ time in 2008, but absolutely of the moment in 2022, the multi-award winning Little Soap Company was created by Emma Heathcote-James when she questioned why UK supermarkets didn’t offer any choice of natural or organic beauty on their shelves .With genuine provenance from hand-making on the kitchen table and selling in sub-zero degrees at local farmers markets Little Soap Company really has been a rag to riches tale having brought the first organic soap to the supermarket a decade ago and fast grew to become the first ethical soap in all the main Grocers (Waitrose, Booths, Sainsbury, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons), chemists (Boots, Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy) plus online retailers including Ocado, Fetch and Amazon and has been disrupting the soap market ever since.

With various brands for differing audiences, Little Soap Company entered the sector, brightened the shelves, created and drove consumer demand for organic and natural soap and helped turn it around, bringing entirely new audiences to purchase natural bar soap. 

Now one of the fastest growing companies in the toiletries sector and with copious personal and product accolades including making the Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders’’ and ‘Scale Up Business” to “Best Rural Retail Business” to ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ – the products follow suit with awards of their own including awards from Beauty Bible, Free From Skincare Awards, Mama & Baby Beauty Awards, Green Parent, The Grocer and Psychologies Magazine Eco Awards. 

Little Soap Company also gained BCorporation certification in 2019 – their proudest achievement of all to date.

Constantly pushing boundaries and bringing out innovative products that create market trends – the latest Eco Warrior range is entirely plastic free, eradicating the need for unnecessary bottles, formulating traditionally bottled liquids, into bar form.

Committed to inspiring, celebrating and promoting female role models across all areas of society and the business community, Emma will help the Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards continue to celebrate the achievements of women across the UK as an ambassador.

Fleur Sexton DL

MD and co-founder of PET-Xi Training

Fleur Sexton is Deputy Lieutenant, representing Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Businesswoman of the Year and CEO and co-founder of multi-award-winning PET-Xi Training, one of the most hard-hitting and dynamic training providers in the UK with a reputation for success with the hardest to reach.

Deeply committed to changing lives through education and employment, since 1995 she and her team have delivered impact, inspiration and value to 250,000 learners in a wide range of communities across the UK, making social mobility a reality by finding and breaking barriers, improving life chances and making communities stronger.

Fleur invests much of her time and 10% of company profits into these activities, to which both she and PET-Xi bring enthusiastic engagement and active hands-on participation.

Board member of C&W Chamber of Commerce, The CW LEP Skills Board, C&W Champions, Historic Coventry Trust and Chair of the Coventry Music Trust.

She founded and runs the PET-Xi Foundation, which raises money to directly break barriers for individual young people nationwide, is an active member of The BCU Business School Advisory Board, Coventry City of Culture Development board and the Commonwealth 2022 Legacy & Benefits Committee.

Fleur is a married mother of 3, tweets as @FleurSexton and can be found at fleursexton.com

PET-Xi Training – Graded as Good by Ofsted “Leaders are ambitious for their learners and apprentices and have a clear purpose and strategy to support those who have significant barriers to learning and employment, such as previously poor experiences of education. They have developed strong links with local business and regional agencies”

Ofsted Report 28 September to 1 October 2021

https://fleursexton.com/

Olive Strachan MBE

Founder of Olive Strachan Resources

Award winning, Global businesswoman, Entrepreneur and Founder of Olive Strachan Resources, Olive, who has established and run her own Learning and Development Consultancy since 1998 and has just been awarded the MBE.

Having worked as a Management Development Specialist and an International Learning Development Consultant for over 20 years, Olive is delighted to be recognised and to receive the award for her contribution to Exports and to Professional Business services. 

As a UKTI North West Export Champion Olive has worked in over 25 countries, as a Consultant, Executive Coach and Trainer helping organisations to develop leaders, focusing on diversity and inclusion.

Sally Penni

Barrister and Founder of Women in the Law UK

Sally Penni is a practicing Barrister at law and the founder and CEO of Women in the Law UK. She is a multi-award winning Barrister for her work in Equality. She is one of the best known lawyers in the North West of England.

Outside of her practice she is a Speaker, Author and Broadcaster and is the host of Talking Law podcast. She also sits as a non-executive director on several boards including Royal Exchange, Arawak Walton Housing Association and Camberwell Park Primary School.

Sally is an ambassador for Women on Boards UK and the Pankhurst Centre Manchester along with Sally Lindsey and others.

Kathryn Farmer

Wade Ceramics

Kathryn Farmer left school at 16 years old with no qualifications and started work as an office junior learning secretarial duty. After starting her family, she later moved to Stoke-on-Trent, where she soon became involved with the pottery industry working initially in the HR department. She later changed her career and moved into local government to become the Lord Mayors Secretary. 10 years later, Kathryn moved back into the pottery industry becoming the brand ambassador for Wade Ceramics, a company founded in 1810.

Outside Kathryn’s career, she is very active in charity work and for the past 10 years has been working with and raising money for The Donna Louise Trust, a hospice for children and young adults. In 2015 and 2018, Kathryn took on the role of Land Crew to support both Tower2Tower events, which consisted of 12 people undertaking cycling from the Eiffel Tower to La Havre, rowing from La Havre to Brighton Marina then walking from Brighton to the Tower of London in just four days.

Committed to inspiring, celebrating and promoting female role models across all areas of society and the business community, Kathryn will help the Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards continue to celebrate the achievements of women across the UK as an ambassador.

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