Bolton’s third annual Inspirational Women Awards ceremony, held on Friday 12th May in the Chancellor’s Building, University of Bolton, was the biggest and best yet, with a much larger audience and more awards being presented than on previous occasions.
Once again the guest of honour and ‘master of ceremonies’, introducing each of the winners, was Gordon Burns, best known for being the host of Granada TV’s ‘The Krypton Factor’ for 18 years and BBC’s regional news programme ‘North West Tonight’ for 15 years.
Before the ceremony began all the nominees and guest enjoyed a delicious 3-course buffet supper prepared by R & K Caterers and then Gordon Burns opened proceedings with anecdotes from his days as a television presenter, before introducing Gulnaz Brennan, Founder of INSPIRE WOMEN AWARDS, and the  Provost of Bolton University, Dr Zubair Hanslot.

Award winners in each category were:
Helping Hands Award – Nilufar Patel
Community Star Volunteer Award – Jacqui Grady
Contribution in Film, Art and Media Award – Iram Sayeed
Going the Extra Mile Award – Ginny Allende
Women in Enterprise Award (Start-up) – Mina Khan (Just One Spice)
Women in Enterprise Award (Accelerated Growth) – Jan Sharrocks (Soapy Skin)
Judge’s Award – Margaret Koppens
Rising Star Award – Tina Philip
Popular Award – Domino Achioyamen
Community Interfaith Award – Wendy Handley
ABCD Community Builder Award – Val Hulme
Anna Kinley Community Integration Award – Farzandah Razzaq
Women in Education Award – Shaheeda Kaduji
Young Star Volunteer Award – Meera Solanki (and 30 young volunteers from Bolton Interfaith Council also received medals and certificates)
Women Together Team Award – Melodramatics Community Theatre
Promoting Health and Well Being Award – Shafina Iqbal
Lifetime Achievement Award – Cllr. Madeline Murray
Community Leadership Award – Christine Fitton
Outstanding Senior Woman Award – Sumati (Sue) Desai
Founder’s Award – Carole Marsden

During the ceremony there was an interval for a beautiful ballet performance by Niamh and Jasmine, from Bolton Dance Theatre, and singer Zoe Ainsworth, from Leigh, sang powerful versions of ‘Desperado’ and ‘Proud’. Zahra Alijah spoke on the subject of women’s accomplishments, and Robin Graham entertained the audience with his unique brand of ‘Laughter Yoga’.
The final award of the night was Woman of the Year, but the unsuspecting recipient was directing the play ‘Winter Hill’ at the Octagon Theatre and her arrival was delayed. The trusty and experienced Gordon Burns ad-libbed his way through the consequent interval with amusing and entertaining stories and then, just as he was about to resort to risque jokes, the winner of the Bolton Woman of the Year Award – Octagon Theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman – arrived.
Receiving her award, Elizabeth said “I am completely overwhelmed and very honoured. I thought I was coming here to present an award – not receive one!’’
Elizabeth went on to say that she felt very privileged to win the award, adding that “There are incredible women doing incredible things, and I am only one of them”.
The evening’s proceedings closed with speeches from Bolton Interfaith Council’s Chan Parmar and Inspire founder Gulnaz Brennan, who both pointed that all of the nominees and all women selflessly working to improve life for the people of the town’s communities were winners.

Sponsors  list

Headline Sponsor- Bolton at Home

Gold Sponsors– MBDA(UK), Keating Supercars, ASL, Ambition for Ageing, Bolton Interfaith Council, Fieldings and Porter

Media Partners: Lancashire NorthWest, ChaiTimes, Bolton FM

Category Sponsors – Bolton College, BIWP, Unique Ladies Network, TheBestofBolton, ROOM FOUR, The OrangeclubUK, BWCT, Bolton Young Person Housing Scheme, Karen Openshaw Consultancy, David Lloyd Leisure Club, House of Rajas & The Octagon.

By Pete Thompson 

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