She was unable to attend the virtual event to receive her Lifelong Inspiration Award as she fights very late stage ovarian cancer – but Professor Jane Turner OBE says watching the Tees Businesswomen Awards have provided “a foundation stone on which to build gender equality and opportunity”.
Jane, who is pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business engagement as well as the university’s equality and diversity champion, was the winner of the Faithful+Gould-sponsored Lifelong Inspiration category ahead of fellow educationalists Katy Parkinson of Lexonik and Katrina Morley of Tees Valley Education Trust.
She has worked with the awards organisers Martin Walker and Dave Allan since the event’s conception and in 2019 received a standing ovation from 470 attendees at Wynyard Hall’s Grand Marquee as she was presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award.
This time around, Covid meant the awards event was virtual and Jane was unable to attend the Zoom call for her category as she continued her treatment but watched the as-live event on YouTube on Thursday evening.
“Storytelling is so powerful and to have the opportunity to peer into the shortlisted and winners’ lives was a privilege and very, very emotional,” said Jane, pictured above at the 2019 event.
“To win the Lifelong Inspiration Award is just phenomenal. When I heard that I had been shortlisted, I immediately reflected on Katrina and Katy and how so deserving they both were.
“I talked about my nomination with my family, explaining how it at a little uneasy with me as I felt like a slight imposter but was impatient to see new women being shortlisted, not me again.
“However, on winning, I feel incredibly humbled and fortunate, especially looking back 33 years as a single mum with no idea of who or what I was or could be.
“That’s why we must all step forward now for our young women of the region, with a plan for change that we drive and own.”
Asked about the awards that she played a key part in forming at an early stage, Jane replied: “The awards have provided a foundation stone on which to build gender equality and opportunity. They have brought women together in a way that, if left to natural forces, might have taken years to establish.
“A network of people provides a force for change if we all get working in the same direction.
“Our next step is to agree our shared purpose – what do we collectively want to achieve for our region? And then establish pillars of action with clear measures of what success looks like for women.”