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“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” — Margaret Mead.

This quote is so apt for the movement that is the MWOTY AWARDS – Omnia Feminae Aequissimae (Women are equal to everything) which, on the 11th October, brought together winners from over the years at a Business Leaders Lunch hosted by FPC at the fabulous Hope Street Hotel.

Highlights from the event included hearing the amazing story of Laura Hughes who sadly lost her brother to knife crime but, in his memory, became a driven youth anti knife crime campaigner with one clear vision; to educate young people on the dangers of carrying a knife and with other family members set up a youth anti knife crime campaign #kNOwKnifeCrime which has made positive, impactful projects come to life across communities throughout the region.

We also heard from the incredible Sara Lawton (Pgcert) and learnt what motivated her to set up Rise Construction Framework, the UK’s only pro-social construction procurement framework. The Rise Construction Framework essentially makes public-sector money work harder by investing profits into much needed community prevention and intervention projects that tackle deprivation and poverty.

Rae Brooke, CEO of Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside, then shared her deeply personal story about how she came to be in her role, followed by the emotional account of what moved Afrah Qassim to found SAVERA UK which is dedicated to ending ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices #femalegenitalmutilation in the UK.

Afrah Qassim, Savera UK.

All this was followed by a rousing penultimate closing speech from Ellen (Ellie) Kerr, MWOTY’s Founder which prompted some spontaneous contributions from the audience thanking the MWOTY community for recognising their efforts and supporting them to achieve more. These included the overall 2023 winners, Heather Evans and June Russell, founders of the Halle O’Brien Community Interest Company (CIC) who shared how important involvement in MWOTY had and continues to be for them.

Halle O’Brien CIC was established in memory of Heather’s daughter, Halle O’Brien, who died in 2019 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 (Halle’s nan) established Halle’s Hub, a space for the Ford Lane community that focuses on supporting young, disadvantaged people.

The event was brought to a close by our own Moira O’Shaughnessy concluded the event by announcing our ongoing commitment to MWOTY as the main sponsor again in 2024!

Commenting on the day, Moira said: “It is such a privilege to be part of the powerful movement that is the Merseyside Women of The Year, to feel the tangible energy in a room filled with such humble yet inspiring women providing real lifelines and support to so many people across Merseyside and beyond. We are proud to be continuing our role as main sponsor for this amazing community and look forward to another year of MWOTY fabulousness!”