Awards were a turning point, reveals Tees charity head

Few who were present will forget the outpouring of emotion as Cath Devereux collected her trophy at the 2019 Tees Businesswomen Awards. She says it was a turning point for the charity set up in memory of her much-missed husband.

Cath won the Inspiring Others category in recognition of her incredible work with the Russ Devereux Headlight Project, a charity she set up to honour her late husband Russ who tragically took his own life in May 2018.

“I was in a daze,” says Cath, recalling the moment her name was announced in Wynyard Hall’s Grand Marquee.

“I hadn’t been able to watch the shortlist video because I’d have broken down.

“I had nothing planned to say when my name was called, but when I got up on stage all this emotion flooded out.

“My sister-in law remembers literally the whole room standing up and cheering. It was so humbling and such an honour.

“That I won against amazing ladies such as (Teesside University’s vice-chancellor) Jane Turner continues to amaze me.”

Cath’s business, Devereux Consulting Employment Law & HR, is sponsoring the champagne at the 2020 Tees Businesswomen Awards, as she’s keen to continue the link with an event that will this time be held virtually due to the Covid crisis.

Explaining the affinity she feels for the event, she recalls: “The Tees Businesswomen Awards have been really good to us and I wanted to give something back.

“The award wasn’t about me, it was always about the team and the project.

“Winning really shone a light on what we do. So many people discovered us that night and have done incredible things since to raise money for us.

“More importantly, we are talking about suicide now, which is vital.”

With the onset of Covid, the Headlight Project has really come into its own.

“It’s hard to make judgement about how much suicide has increased because of the pandemic because you need a longer period in which to assess it,” says Cath. “But we’ve certainly have had more contact for help than we did before.”

Though Cath acknowledges that women find putting themselves forward for accolades difficult, she insists they should.

“I would encourage as many women as possible to come forward and enter the awards,” she says. “It will be great for them personally and brilliant for their business.

“Each and every award is important as a way to showcase the diversity and the talent that we have among the women in our region – though I must admit that the Inspiring Others category will always have a special place in my heart.”

Cath smiles when asked if Russ would approve of her actions. “Russ was a big part of the Teesside business community and he’d certainly approve,” she nods.

“I will always have the grief of his loss, but in the last few months I have also found acceptance. I have a lighter heart.

“That doesn’t mean I’m leaving him behind. I carry him with me in everything I do. He’d be very proud.”

Julie Burniston, events manager for event organisers Resolution Media and Publishing (pictured above with Cath), said: “We’re chuffed to bits that Cath, as one of our most popular awards winners, is acknowledging the impact of the awards in this way.

“For others who’d like to be involved the big event, we still have three category sponsorship opportunities available, while of course we encourage everyone to enter the awards or nominate potential winners.”

For further information on sponsoring one of the three remaining categories in the Tees Businesswomen Awards 2020 call Chris Garbutt on 01642 450255 or email info@teesbusiness.co.uk.

To find out more about how to enter the awards or nominate someone, click here.