Three of those sponsoring the forthcoming Tees Businesswomen Awards have told how impressed they were with the shortlists – with one revealing that a particular nomination had left a lasting impression on them.
Kirsten Donkin of PD Ports, David Gardiner of Faithful+Gould and Catherine Devereux of Devereux Consulting Law & HR took part in the latest Tees Business Leaders online Q&A.
Shortlists for the third annual Tees Businesswomen Awards, in association with Northern Skills Group, have been announced, which PD Ports, Faithful+Gould and Devereux Consulting among the sponsors.
Despite Covid, there have been 85 nominations across ten categories, with the volume and strength of the entries a testament to the impact of the awards in raising the profile of strong women in our region.
“I’m very impressed with the shortlists,” said Kirsten Donkin, head of PR, marketing and communications at PD Ports, who are sponsors of the Inspiring Others category.
“Each category has such a strong line-up – some well-known faces and some new – but all are fantastic role models. It’s certainly going to be a tough call.”
Fellow guest David Gardiner of Faithful and Gould, sponsors of the Lifelong Inspiration category, is full of praise for those who took time to enter or nominate.
“85 entries in a year like this is a fantastic achievement,” he said. “It just shows the quality of the businesswomen in the region.”
Someone who knows what its like to be the recipient of a Tees Businesswomen Award is Catherine Devereux, the 2019 winner of the Inspiring Others award for her incredible work with the Russ Devereux Headlight Project.
“It was such a privilege just to be nominated but to be shortlisted and then to actually win was tremendously emotional,” said Catherine, who set up the mental health charity in memory of her husband Russ, the former Devereux Transport & Distribution boss.
“The fact that I was shortlisted against (Teesside University’s) Jane Turner blew my mind because she’s somebody who I have the utmost admiration for.
“Seeing her name, I thought I had absolutely no chance. When I did win it gave me such a lift. There was such an outpouring of love and empathy.
“Winning shone a huge spotlight on the Headlight Project, and to have the support and admiration of my peers meant so much. It was very special.”
Catherine in turn has shown her support for the awards by sponsoring the champagne package at this year’s ceremony via her businesses, Devereux Consulting Law and HR, and can’t wait to see the new winners unveiled.
“It’s so exciting to see new names and businesses that we haven’t come across before,” she said. “That’s a really positive thing, as is the fact that we have names who come back every year.
“It shows the strength of those individuals, and the fact that they have been nominated or had the courage to nominate themselves, is fabulous.”
Choosing a winner from the incredible shortlists is almost impossible, especially in a category such as Charity and Voluntary, where Rubies is in the running along with My Sister’s Place and Recovery Advocates.
“Oh wow, that will be almost impossible to call,” remarked Kirsten. “All three organisations are doing a tremendous amount of good.
“Similarly, the Inspiring Others award has Jane Turner, Annalice Argyle and Paula McMahon – what a line-up!
“Annalice, in particular, absolutely blew me away. I didn’t know about her before the awards, but she’s someone I won’t ever forget. The emotional rollercoaster of reading her story had a huge impact on me.”
Certainly, success come in all shapes, forms and ages.
This year it’s the turn of Wander Films to represent the region’s younger generation, with shortlisted entries in the Best New Business and Business Of The Year categories, plus an individual shortlist for director Chloe Clover in the Best Newcomer category.
“What great role models Wander are,” said David. “Their profile has really shot up this year and it’s a tremendous boost for everyone, but especially for younger women, to show just what can be achieved.”
Kirsten added: “What comes across with all the women who have been shortlisted is that they are all so strong in their own way.
“It’s great to have such a range of role models that people can aspire to. Leadership comes in all guises and it’s great to see that across the board this year.”