Wonder Women take centre stage at national awards

5th July 2019
Remarkable women from across Wales were celebrated at Chwarae Teg’s annual Womenspire Awards ceremony last night, 4 July.

During an evening of entertainment, fun and laughter there were tears of joy and heart-warming moments shared by an audience of over 500 at St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff.

Chwarae Teg, Wales’ leading gender equality charity, organises the awards to recognise and showcase the achievements of extraordinary women in all aspect of life.

They are awarded through a range of categories, from women working in STEM or thriving in sport to those making a difference in their communities or a rising star of the future. There were also two awards for businesses who are taking action to improve diversity and enable women to progress and prosper in the workplace.

Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg, said: “This is our fourth Womenspire awards and the ceremony just gets bigger and better. There’s no end to the amazing stories out there from women of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. At Chwarae Teg we know how important it is that the achievements of women are highlighted just as much as those of men. Our Womenspire finalists have all accomplished so much, made incredibly valuable contributions and in doing so become fantastic role models for others. Many of our finalists don’t even see what a positive impact they have or how special they really are but I hope that they start to believe it after tonight.”

The overall Womenspire Champion 2019 was Julie Thomas from Bridgend, who was also the was Woman in Sport category winner. She was presented with her Champion award by Alison Thorne, Chair, Chwarae Teg. When Julie lost her sight ten years ago her life as a dedicated head teacher came to an end. However, her determination to form new interests led her to a bowls taster session. She now competes against sighted players and in 2018 she reached the National Welsh Elite fully sighted finals and was selected for the Commonwealth Games, coming back with a bronze medal!

Julie has also worked to support other people with sight loss in a range of ways. She has set up coffee mornings, trips to audio described films at the cinema and raised funds for a purpose built allotment for partially sighted people to garden in – which received a European Innovation Award.

Cerys said: “Julie epitomises what Womenspire is all about. Someone remarkable who just sees herself as getting on with things and making the best of a situation, when in fact she does much more and has achieved things most sighted people would not do. Her community work has changed the lives of many other blind or partially sighted people and she’s definitely raised the profile of bowls in Wales! More than anything I think she has given others in situations of severe adversity the proof that with grit and determination anything is possible, you can start over and still go on to be incredibly successful.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

  • Womenspire Champion 2019 – Julie Thomas
  • Rising Star – Rafia Jamil
  • Woman in Sport – Julie Thomas
  • Board Member, Abi Carter
  • Entrepreneur – Hannah Saunders
  • Community Activist – Sahar Al-Faifi
  • Creative and Media – Tamara Harvey
  • Woman in STEM – Sarah Morgan
  • Learner – Andrea Garvey
  • Leader – Tracy Myhill
  • People’s Choice – Chisomo Phiri
  • FairPlay Employer© – Torfaen Leisure Trust, Cwmbran
  • Diversity Champion – Zimmer Biomet, Bridgend