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'Every woman is a woman of the year'

HONOURED: Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE accepts the Barclays Women of the Year Award at the Women of the Year Lunch at the InterContinental Hotel in London

WOMEN ACROSS the world of entertainment, medicine, media and more gathered at the InterContinental, London Park Lane to attend the Women of The Year Lunch 2018.

The Women of the Year Lunch brings together 400 women from all walks of life, each handpicked for their achievements and contribution to society.

Each guest is regarded as a ‘Woman of the Year’, representing not only themselves but also the millions of women who make a difference every day.

Throughout the year, the prestigious event has acknowledged and celebrated women of all backgrounds since its launch in 1955, when it was founded by the late Lady Tony (Antonella) Lothian OBE with Lady Georgina Coleridge and Odette Hallowes.

Speaking ahead of the event, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I've always drawn more inspiration from the seemingly ordinary women who quietly, and without fanfare, do extraordinary things that make this country the very special place it is.

“Women like this year's inspirational nominees Karen Morrison, Andrea Smith and Karen Williams who don't do what they do for fame or riches, they do it simply to improve the lives of the children they are dedicated to helping.

At this year’s ceremony, guests included Labour MP Dawn Butler, comedian Angie Le Mar, Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE, GB gold medallist Denise Lewis, Baroness Floella Benjamin MBE and The Voice newspaper director Paulette Simpson, as they marked the annual event in celebration of the many women contributing to society.

ATTENDEE: Denise Lewis

The ceremony begun with a Suffragette anthem performed by Burntwood School Choir, before awards were presented to four women, highlighting their achievements and work to better opportunities for women.

Awards given on the day included the Outstanding Achievement Award, Campaigner of the Year Award, Shine A Light Award and the Barclays Winner of the Year award, given to Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE.

“I’m absolutely shocked to have been given this award. I’ve been to the lunch twice before and I’m always so impressed and tearful at what the winners have done,” she said.

Dr Imafdidon is the co-founder of award-winning social enterprise Stemettes, which aims to encourage and inspire more young women to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

“I feel we’ve achieved so much with Stemettes. We’ve shown the importance of a girls-only space for confidence building and that the fun, free food ethos of what we’re doing really does change the nature of engagement with young women,” she added.

The Women of the Year Shine a Light award was presented by acclaimed journalist Kate Adie to Anne Norona, for her invaluable work with the persecuted Yazidi women in Iraq. The 55-year-old nurse has funded trips to Iraq to provide goats, which are key to the community’s survival, by giving Botox injections to her private clients.

AWARDED: Anne Norona and Kate Adie

Speaking on the award, Norona said: “It’s such a privilege to receive this award. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have the voices and stories of the Yazidis heard.”

In addition to the awards given, the Women of the Year foundation makes a number of charitable grants to organisations and projects in the UK and abroad.

Some of the projects highlighted this year include Feast! An organisation which takes surplus food from supermarkets to a number of homeless hostels; Freedom kit bags, which provides hygienic sanitary products for millions of women’s and girls and Imagine Her, a non-profit organisation working with communities to leverage the power and potential of girls and women to create a sustainable future.

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