Women Leaders UK Celebrates Record-Breaking 2024 Awards in Milton Keynes

    The 2024 Women Leaders’ UK Awards, hosted by Women Leaders, took place on June 18th at Stadium MK, marking a significant milestone in its nine year history with reports of the highest number of entries to date.

    A glittering success, the awards brought together people from across the city and beyond, with nearly 400 attendees gathered in the Ballroom at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Stadium MK to celebrate the achievements of remarkable women across 14 categories.

    Hosted by Dr Julie Mills OBE and Ruby Parmar, Chair and Vice Chair of Women Leaders respectively, the awards also paid tribute to Elizabeth Sheldon for her contributions to the development and growth of Women Leaders along with her pioneering efforts in creating the city's first STEM festival and her tireless work to get more women into STEM.

    Among other notable recipients was Sharon Bridglalsingh, a finalist in the Uniformed and Public Services Award category, who earned a place on the Women’s Leadership Programme run by Cranfield Executive Development.

    The Outstanding Contribution Award was presented to Ayser Al-Jawad, a finalist in the Engineering, Science, and Maths Award, recognising her significant impact in the community.

    Ros McFadden, winner of the Healthcare category and founder of MumPod, a company that offers solutions for employers and business owners to their pregnant and breastfeeding employees and co, had this to say after winning, “I am very good at talking and I can’t put into words what this award means to me. I’ve worked in the corporate world, and the family stage happens to everyone, whichever parent you are. But why would you as an employer reject 50% of your workforce? There’s so much about menopause, baby loss, which is amazing, but let’s talk about the fundamental parts of when we have a baby, pregnancy, breastfeeding when you return to work. We need to understand that.”

    Inspiring Discussions and Panels

    Guests were inspired not only by the stories of the finalists and winners but also by the prominent speakers who joined the presenters on stage.

    The event featured a panel discussion enabled by the headline sponsors, NHBC, focusing on attracting more women to the construction industry. Hosted by Women Leaders’ trustee, Sarah Thorne, the panel included NHBC's Sara Cartin and Wendy Carr, along with Jenny Herdman from The Home Building Federation, who discussed the importance of apprenticeships and creating a visual representation to mentor the next generation of women leaders.

    Gamiel Yafai, Founder and CEO of Diversity Marketplace and sponsor of the Women Leaders Allyship Programme, emphasised the need for a more inclusive workplace: "It has been an honour to be asked to design the Allyship training programme and a privilege to be a Trustee of Women Leaders UK. To be part of a voluntary team that raises visibility and gives voice to women through mentorship, allyship, events, and putting on celebration awards is a privilege.

    What a wonderful evening working as a team to showcase the incredible work that women are doing to create a better society for all. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners. I was especially pleased by the diversity of talent who had the opportunity to showcase their outstanding contributions to Milton Keynes and be and be recognised for it."

    Ajira (AJ) Bouchada, founder of Cebiso M Studio, the largest studio space in Milton Keynes, was nominated for three categories, and won the Music, Arts, and The Creatives category. “I am so happy! I think sometimes we just assume that people just get awards, but to be nominated three times and receive an award as well is absolutely amazing.” AJ said. When asked what she’s got to say to women in Entrepreneurial world, especially as a women of colour she said, “I think we need to help each other first and foremost. When we see each other in these spaces, let’s not ignore each other. Let’s throw each other that little smile, that little wink, that little nod to say I see you, and we’re not alone.”

    Testimonials from the Night

    Dr Julie Mills OBE and Chair of Women Leaders remarked: "It has been an absolute joy to celebrate the success of our 2024 finalists and winners. We have showcased powerful role models to inspire women in all sectors, and we’ve had a wonderful night out! A huge thank you to our sponsors, partners and supporters, without whom the Awards would not be possible."

    The hosts also referenced the fact that the audience included the largest number of guests under the age of 25 in its history, a testament to the power of recognising women leaders and inspiring a new generation as one young guest, Miah Wilson, an Apprentice Machinist at Oracle Red Bull Racing, expressed: "As a young woman just starting in the working world, I am thrilled to be working with Oracle Red Bull Racing who are sponsoring the Emerging Leader award. This event both excites and inspires me for my future."

    Sally Alexander, Chief Executive of MK College Group, added: "We are really proud to sponsor the Women Leaders’ Awards. It's a fantastic event which helps celebrate the achievements of so many women, whether they are established in the community or young and just starting in their careers."

    The 2024 Women Leaders’ Awards was not just a celebration of individual achievements, but a testament to the collective effort to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women. The event underscored the importance of fostering community, mentorship, and allyship to inspire and elevate women across all sectors.

    As the evening drew to a close, the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose was palpable.

    For further information visit www.womenleadersuk.org

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