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Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2023 winners revealed

12 months ago

Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2023 winners revealed
Heather Evans & June Russell awarded Merseyside Woman of the Year 2023 (CREDIT Wild Kind Photography)

Heather Evans and June Russell, founders of the Halle O’Brien CIC have been jointly crowned Merseyside Woman of the Year 2023.

Heather set up the Halle O’Brien CIC in 2020, in memory of her beautiful daughter Halle, who tragically passed away in 2019 at the age of 19, after contracting a rare form of meningitis. 

Halle had ambitions to help children learn and develop socially and academically, so after her death Heather and June established “Halle’s Hub”, a space for the Ford Lane community that focused on supporting young, disadvantaged people, keeping Halle’s dream alive. 

The accolade was presented to the inspirational duo by headline sponsor, Financial Planning Corporation (FPC), at the glittering Merseyside Women of the Year Awards ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Liverpool on Friday 30th June, which was attended by 400 guests.

Heather Evans, Halle’s mum, said: 

“We’re amazed by the fact we’ve won. We know that we’re legends in our little corner of the world, but when we met all the other finalists, we saw how they were all legends in their own corners and communities too. We were so proud to be involved, but we never in a million years thought we’d be named Merseyside Woman of the Year – but here we are! It’s humbling and amazing.”

June Russell & Heather Evans Merseyside Woman of the Year 2023 (CREDIT Wild Kind Photography)

June Russell, Halle’s nan, said: 

“I’m quite overwhelmed by it all and it’s a bittersweet win for us, because Halle should be here. But she must be here driving us to do this. We get up every day and do it, with the support of our fantastic volunteers, and we enjoy it. 

“People who come to our community space, the charity shop and cafe, all say it’s a welcoming place and I truly believe that’s Halle. She was such a loving, outgoing person who wanted to help people, and this is all for her. We’re carrying on her journey for her and keeping her memory alive.”

The announcement of the overall Merseyside Woman of the Year 2023 award was the climax of an afternoon celebrating incredible women from across the city region who are changing lives and making an impact in arts, culture, communities, and business, with the evening hosted by comedienne, singer, actress and long-standing MWOTY commère Pauline Daniels.

Ahead of the award presentations singer-songwriter, Claire Mooney, performed a piece commissioned especially for the ceremony, and the CEO of the Community Foundation for Merseyside, Rae Brooke hosted a conversation with Sefton-born Cherie Blair CBE, KC, discussing her personal journey and why platforms that celebrate women are so vital.

The Arts, Culture & Media award, sponsored by Taylor Wessing, was awarded to Juliana Pinheiro LandimLeigh-Angel Bevan & Tamasin Dunand from cultural hub and Brazilian drumming band, Katumba, for its positive impact on health, wellbeing, and culture in the local community. The group provides vibrant public performances, inspiring workshops and weekly drumming and movement classes that bring people together in a safe, inclusive, supportive, and uplifting environment.

Merseyside Woman of the Year - The Guide Liverpool
MWOTY 2023 Finalists Pre-awards (CREDIT Wild Kind Photography)

Moira O’Shaughnessy, Managing Partner, FPC, said: 

“I never cease to be amazed by the work and dedication of the finalists and the wider MWOTY community; I know that all those who come across the wonderful world that Ellie and her team have created feel the same. On their behalf I would like to thank them for everything they do.

“At FPC we are passionate about supporting the communities we live in. We do so as a business, with our sponsorship of MWOTY being just one example, and we also aim to help our clients do the same. As everyone involved in MWOTY gives so much to the people and businesses of Merseyside, it gives us great pride to have had the honour of headline sponsor this year.”

For the first time ever, MWOTY also presented a special Fellowship award at the ceremony. The Fellowship Award has been established to celebrate outstanding contribution to the Liverpool City Region and beyond, with the recipient of the award being recognised for enhancing the lives of others through her actions and advocacy, marking her out as a positive role model leading the way in societal transformation for women.

The recipient of the inaugural Fellowship award was revealed as Lesley Martin-Wright JP DL, for her significant contribution to women in business, enabling them to connect to professional advice and information by guiding them to adopt a growth mindset and gain competitive edge in the marketplace. She was also recognised for her work during her tenure as the High Sheriff of Merseyside 2022/23.

Merseyside Woman of the Year - The Guide Liverpool
Heather Evans & June Russell Merseyside Woman of the Year 2023 with Headline Sponsor FPC (credit Wild Kind Photography)

Ellie Kerr, MWOTY Founding Director, said: 

“Lesley has paved the way for many women in business and also been an outstanding and inspiring advocate for groups in every sector, who have devoted their time to improving the communities in which they live and help make Merseyside a better and safer place. 

“Throughout her illustrious career Lesley has reinforced the place of women entrepreneurs and has ensured that women at all levels within the Liverpool City Region are acknowledged, valued, and included.

“Today’s celebration has been overwhelmingly beautiful, and I am bursting with pride for all our winners and runners-up. They are what makes our region as wonderful as it is and are an example and inspiration to us all. I am so happy to call them part of our MWOTY family and we look forward to supporting them all in their incredible work.”

The Merseyside Women of the Year Awards will return in 2024, on Friday 28th June.

To find out more, visit the website HERE.

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