The 26th Cheshire Woman of the Year Award, Eaton Park, Chester

PUBLISHED: 13:56 03 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:30 20 February 2013

The 26th Cheshire Woman of the Year Award, Eaton Park, Chester

The 26th Cheshire Woman of the Year Award, Eaton Park, Chester

Elegant Eaton Park, Chester, was the location for the presentation of the <br/>26th Cheshire Woman of the Year Award <br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Courageous, dedicated, inspirational and amazing: those are just a few of the superlatives used to describe the impressive women who gathered in the historic surroundings of Eaton Park for this years 26th Cheshire Woman of the Year Award.

All the guests at the entirely female gathering were nominees for the award and as chairman Sylvia Cheater declared in her welcoming speech, every woman was a winner. Some were high-flying professional and businesswomen, some were devoted volunteers or charity workers. But the group, from all walks of society, found plenty in common as they chatted at the drinks reception before moving onto the Wolf Room for a splendid luncheon.

The nominees included Patricia Peacock of Cale Green, Stockport, for her tireless work for Beechwood Cancer Care. Then there was Lillian Faragher of Hoylake who has been a successful fundraiser for Claire House childrens hospice. The talents of childrens author and model maker Daisy Dawes of New Brighton were also acknowledged. Congleton-based Helen Chappels work with local young musicians and orchestras was recognised.

The dedication of Bhupinder Virdee Lace from Chester in her work to overcome cultural barriers earned her a nomination. The personal courage of Barbara Spencer of Winsford and her loyal service to Winsford Arthritic Care was praised.

Innovative business talent was in evidence too. Claire Arnold of Wilmslows fruit bouquets business is in full bloom and the commercial expertise of Jan Williams of Frodsham is regarded as inspirational.

Green-fingered Rebecca Knowles of Marple was singled out for her gardening talents, particularly her bronze medal success at the RHS Tatton. The founder of Chester Childbirth Appeal, Patricia Daniels MBE, was nominated for her important work.

As in previous years, the modesty of the nominees was touching. Many women who have worked devotedly for good causes were unsure about why they were being honoured. Several said: I was just doing my bit.

As ever, the judges faced a difficult choice in singling anyone out for special attention, but eventually they chose Josephine Wood MBE.

Josephine, from Moreton, was awarded her MBE in June last year for her work for the victims of domestic and sexual violence across Merseyside. She joined the Rape and Sexual Abuse centre in 2004, (RASA), an independent voluntary organisation and charity. Already a Wirral magistrate, Jos abhorrence of injustice led her to expand the service across Merseyside. She was elected to the Board of Rape Crisis (England and Wales) as treasurer in 2006. By the end of March last year she had increased RASA staffing from 2 to 7 and the funding from 17,500 to 237,000 for the year.

As well as this outstanding work for the RASA, Jo has been involved in numerous charity initiatives here and abroad. One of her proudest achievements is the construction in 1995 of a home for orphans and abandoned children in Warri, a small town in South West Nigeria.

Jo is also a founder member and director of Wirral Change, a racial minorities outreach service offering information, advice and guidance on education, employment and health. In January this year Jo, was awarded the Wirral Civic Award at a special dinner in the Town Hall, Wallasey.

Sylvia Cheater, in announcing Jo as Cheshire Woman of the Year 2011, praised her dedication and exceptional talents, declaring her to be a most worthy recipient of the title.

Guest of honour, Lady Elizabeth Bromley-Davenport, presented Jo with a commemorative silver salver.

In her closing address, Sylvia Cheater, pointed out that it is now 26 years since the award was launched. She thanked all sponsors and supporters over that time. But most of all, my thanks to you, the women of Cheshire who do great things. You are all winners and we could not do this without you.

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