INSPIRING women from across Redcar and Cleveland were honoured at a special ceremony at the weekend.

Nearly 150 people attended the event at the Bellamy Pavilion at Kirkleatham Museum, near Redcar and witnessed the following women being recognised for outstanding achievement:

  • Glynis Rodgerson, who won the Individual Achievement Award for her work as a volunteer at Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Marske Hall and fostering 59 children
  • Kat Kempen who won the Inspiring Others award for her work at a foodbank and community café
  • Vera Rider who won the Community Contribution Award for her work as chairperson at the Gleneagles Community Centre at New Marske
  • Mia Flood, aged 17, who won the Young Woman’s Award for her fundraising work in memory of a friend who died of cancer
  • Linda Dickinson who won the Volunteer Award.

The overall winner of the Mo Mowlam Award was Linda Dickinson, 56, of Normanby, who has a son, Alfie, 17,  with Down’s Syndrome and autism and another son, Sam, 18, with Asperger’s.

She was nominated by her daughter, Helen Humphreys, who explained that, as well as looking after her sons and two grandchildren, her mother raises money for charity, coordinates an autism family support group, is a volunteer advocate for a local family whose first language is not English and whose autistic son is in a long-term assessment and treatment centre in Northumberland, is a trustee at a charity and for five years gave talks to students at Durham  University.

After receiving the Mo Mowlam Award, Linda, said: “I’m absolutely buzzing. It was wonderful just to be nominated. But your story is your story – it’s just your normality. When you hear the other stories they seem more touching and more rewarding than yours. I feel really honoured.”

The Mo Mowlam prize was awarded by Anna Turley, MP for Redcar, who cited her friend, Jo Cox MP who was murdered last year, as a personal inspiration. She said: “We have so many talented women in our borough and I hope the achievements recognised at the awards will inspire others too. The woman who really inspired me was my friend, Jo Cox. I often think of her maiden speech in the House of Commons. She said, ‘there is always more that we have in common than that which divides us.’ The wonderful women who won these awards are proving that and making a huge contribution to our local community.”

Councillor Sue Jeffrey, Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, also spoke at the awards on Friday 10 March and explained she had been involved in various events all week to celebrate women’s and girls’ achievements, especially on International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March. Events included schoolgirls from Years 9, 10 and 11 ‘shadowing’ women in the borough in positions of leadership, including Cllr Jeffrey herself, Anna Turley MP, Chief Executive of the council, Amanda Skelton, last year’s Inspiring Women overall winner Stacey Phoenix, a solicitor at Cygnet Law and Zetland FM presenter, Julie Donaldson, who compered the award ceremony.

Cllr Jeffrey said: “It really is brilliant to hear of so many great nominations and, as far as I’m concerned, everybody in this room is a winner. This event culminates such a brilliant week in which I’ve met so many incredible, inspiring women and girls.”