Arriving at the New Dock Hall in Leeds on Friday, 20 May we were welcomed with a glass of fizz and ushered into the glittering New Dock Hall along with 800 women, and a handful of men, ready to celebrate the great and good of Yorkshire.
This was the first time that we had taken a table at the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards and if the effort that the hundreds of guests had gone to was a measure of what we could expect then we were sure not to be disappointed.
The list of Yorkshire celebrities was impressive too – director and scriptwriter, Kay Mellor, BBC Radio Leeds broadcaster, Liz Green, former Apprentice candidate, Claire Young and of course my good friend, Gaynor Faye, who herself won the Yorkshire Rose Award at the 2014 ceremony.
As a company that champions Yorkshire and all that the county has to offer we were really looking forward to this celebration. Looking through the programme, the competition was clearly going to be fierce with seven award categories covering Special Recognition, Yorkshire Rose, Women of Achievement in Business, Women of Achievement in Education, Women of Achievement in Sport, Young Achiever and last but by no means least, Jane Tomlinson Award for Courage.
After a presentation and emotional video showing the wonderful work that Wheatfields Hospice does and our delicious lunch, it was time to find out who would be commended for their efforts. There were lots of shortlisted candidates, some of who were friends and business acquaintances, but of course there could only be one winner from each category.
As the winners were announced, one-by-one they went up to collect their awards supported by an impressive round of applause from the guests. It was overwhelming to hear about the dedication that these Yorkshire women have shown and how they have gone on to achieve so much.
A favourite of ours was Mary Benson who received the award for Woman of Achievement in Business. Mary is a fashion designer from the Seacroft area of Leeds, her acceptance speech was refreshing and honest to say the least. We really hope this talented young lady achieves great things.
We were also really pleased to see that this year’s recipient of the Yorkshire Rose Award was the original Calendar Girls who received a standing ovation when they went to collect the accolade, which is very much deserved.
The winners of each of the awards can be found here
but needless to say by the time we reached the Overall Yorkshire Woman of Achievement 2016 and Community Impact Awards Winner, which was Jayne Senior for her work as a Rotherham Youth Worker, there was barely a dry eye in the house.
Passionate about educating people to recognise the signs of child exploitation, Jayne explained how she became manager of a project called Risky Business. Supporting those who were faced with abuse, Jayne took her findings and made sure that they would become national headlines.
Not only has Jayne made a huge difference to the lives of those living in these areas but she has also shaped how these situations will be handled moving forward.
Not only was it very humbling to learn more about the great work that takes place in Yorkshire but also to have the chance to celebrate the success of the region with other likeminded business women.
It was interesting to learn that ladies of Yorkshire also like a glass or two of fizz as it was announced that we had successfully drunk every last drop of prosecco and champagne in the entire building - good going girls!
For more details about the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement event please visit www.sueryder.org.uk