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Women of The Year announces Business Woman of The Year Finalists ahead of 40th Anniversay Awards

The Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards has unveiled its shortlist of eight inspiring women for the Business Woman of the Year award, as the prestigious ceremony prepares to return for its 40th anniversary year.

One of the UK’s longest running annual awards, the esteemed organisation celebrates the achievements of exceptional women, and highlights individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to their business, sector or wider community.

The Business Woman of the Year award is designed to celebrate the success of an individual making transformational changes within their organisation or sector.

The winner will be announced at the 40th anniversary of the annual awards ceremony, taking place on Friday 1 April 2022 at Hilton Birmingham Metropole, after a couple of years of absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards 2022 is set to welcome over 650 professionals from the private and public sectors.

This year’s impressive shortlist of eight finalists includes business leaders inspired by their own personal experiences and those dedicated to supporting and uplifting others to achieve their ambition. In light of the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the achievements of this year’s finalists are testament to their ongoing commitment and drive.

The 2022 Business Woman of the Year finalists are:

  • Carmel McKinney OBE – Chairperson / Non-Executive Director – N.I. Fire and Rescue Service: the first ever female Chairperson of the Fire and Rescue Service of Northern Ireland, with a purpose to protect the local community
  • Codilia Gapare – CEO – Nakawo Ltd: a company revolutionising the beauty industry, creating bespoke products tailor-made for cancer and alopecia patients
  • Elizabeth Lawal – Founder – More Than A Moment Group: a partnership promoting investment into the Black creative workforce, enabling under-represented communities to engage with arts and culture
  • Leanne Bonner-Cooke – Founder / CEO – e-Bate Limited: a game-changing software solution allowing procurement and finance teams to streamline their processes and drive efficiency
  • Dr Mary Hardwick – Founding Director – Inspire2tri Community Interest Company: a sports, fitness and rehabilitation business serving local residents, clubs and community groups to help them realise their sporting and fitness goals
  • Noor Kimit – Owner – Seaworthy Consulting Ltd: providing expert solutions for the maritime industry with a decade of experience in international maritime recruitment
  • Stephnie Judge – Managing Director – Victorian Plumbing: the UK’s leading online specialist bathroom brand by revenue, offering a one-stop solution for B2C and trade customers
  • Suzanne Linton – CEO – Freestyle Interactive: a digital product studio which designs and builds digital applications, tools, websites and mobile apps, and places employee development and well-being at the heart of the business  

The final shortlist was put forward by the Women of the Year Board, which includes the organisation’s newly appointed board directors Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, Jennie Johnson MBE and Fleur Sexton DL.

Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, CEO of Twycross Zoo and WOTY director, said: “We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the Business Woman of the Year award, one of our most prestigious accolades. This year’s finalists are women of huge talent, skill and determination – who are not only motivated by their own personal goals, but also by championing and inspiring their employees, local communities and fellow business leaders – even in the midst of a global pandemic. By building up others we can all achieve great success and this year’s finalists are a wonderful testament to that.” 

Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards was established in 1982 as a ladies’ luncheon to raise vital funds for charitable causes and to highlight and celebrate the many and varied achievements of women.

Since then, the annual awards have gone from strength to strength both as an event and as a movement to promote women’s achievements. Over the last four decades, winners have included Baroness Karren Brady CBE, Katie Piper, Dame Asha Khemka DBE (Principal and CEO of West Nottinghamshire College) and British Paralympian, Martine Wright MBE.

Zalena Vandrewala, chair of the Awards, added: “After two years of absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and as we mark our 40th anniversary, this year’s awards ceremony will feel particularly poignant. We are so excited to celebrate the incredible achievements of women, to share their stories and to inspire others to follow their lead.”

All proceeds from this year’s Women of the Year Luncheon & Awards will go directly to charity, with just under £600,000 raised to date. For 2022, the event will support The Prince’s Trust: Women Supporting Women Initiative, a passionate group of supporters who are committed to changing the lives of young women, and NHS Charities Together which continues to support our NHS in the life saving work that they do.

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