An award given posthumously to much-loved Zetland FM presenter Julie Donaldson, who sadly passed away from Covid last year, rounded off a memorable night of celebration and high emotion at the third annual Tees Businesswomen Awards.
The Outstanding Contribution Award received by Julie’s husband John Proudler on his wife’s behalf was presented by Zoe Lewis of headline sponsors Northern Skills Group, the training and apprenticeship arm of Middlesbrough College, and served to mark the life of a lady who not only shone in her career but was known for her generous community work and sunny smile.
Zoe and John were joined in a live zoom link to pay tribute to Julie by friends Kirsten Donkin of PD Ports and the High Tide Foundation and Zetland FM station manager, Jeremy Gartland.
“Julie was such an incredible person,” said Jeremy in a loving tribute to the broadcaster who had just celebrated her 50th birthday and was newly married when she succumbed to the virus.
“She was so talented in every aspect,” he continued.
“As a broadcaster she had the perfect knack of communication. Her love for people really shone through on air, and especially with her community work where she’d ensure that good causes got their voices heard. As a person she was just lovely and we miss her so much.”
Kirsten, who got to know Julie through her support of the High Tide Foundation and who became a friend, fought back tears as she admitted: “Once you met Julie you never forgot her, she had this natural ability which she didn’t recognise herself, to bring people together.
“She brought laughter, humility and really lit up a room. She was a joy to be around. I know if she were here tonight, she’d have had her selfie stick out capturing pictures of us all. The three loves of Julie’s life were John, chocolate and her selfie stick!” she laughs, before adding:
“Julie will be incredibly missed and we all love her deeply.”
Accepting the award on Julie’s behalf was a moment of deep pride for husband John, but one which was also tinged with deep emotion.
“Julie was just wonderful,” he began.
“I miss her terribly, every single moment of every single day.
“What drove Julie was her compassion for people. She really loved to know what made them tick. I’m only beginning now to discover all the wonderful things she did for people and for the community that she so deeply cared about.
“Julie was all about helping others and making the world a better place. I think we should all try to be a bit more like Julie because we need that in this world.”
“It’s very clear that Julie has touched so many lives with her energy, her commitment, her ambassadorial work and her humility,” concluded Zoe.
“On behalf of businesswomen across the Tees Valley, we felt that it was so important to recognise Julie’s outstanding contribution and I don’t think that there’s ever been a more fitting way to do so.”