Women from across Derry and the North West who have gone above and beyond in serving their communities, were recognised at the annual Women of the Year Event on Friday night.
The awards, which were organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, were held at the City Hotel and hosted by the Mayor, Alderman Hilary McClintock who said she was deeply honoured to acknowledge and recognise the efforts the women have played in improving the life and well-being of the entire local community.
Among those to be recognised at the event were Lorraine Gallen, from Strabane who was recognised for her Contribution to Community Development through her voluntary role at the local primary school, for her involvement in developing the strategic community plan for children and young people and her role as manager of the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust working to develop services.
Helen Henderson, a Director with St Columb’s Park House and chair of the North West NI, was recognised for her Contribution to Community Relations through her voluntary work to raise awareness of human trafficking and her peace building work in promoting creative projects that promote community relations and social justice.
Under the Contribution to Enterprise category, three local women were formally recognised for their achievements, including Heather Cooke for the work she does to host events for communities in Tullyally, Church Brae, Currynierin, Ardmore and Drumahoe; Marina Visperin Butler for her work in promoting the benefits of massage to assist with pain relief, reduce anxiety and expedite recovery, and Eglinton’s Patricia Greene, for her role in providing advice and support to women in her role as chair of the Women In Enterprise group and promoting entrepreneurship.
The local Royal British Legion Welfare Team were formally acknowledged for their Contribution to Older People and the work they do on the ground to provide support to service and ex-service personnel and their dependents.
The recognition award for Contribution to Formal/Informal Education went to Emma Walker from Newbuildings Primary School and the recipients of recognition awards for their Contribution to Arts were Margaret Kelly and Rachel Tennis for their work with the Londonderry Musical Society, the Allegri Community Choir and the children’s church choir in Strathfoyle, while Lolita Cooke was formally acknowledged for the role she plays with the Kabalikat NW and the Amelia Earhart Project.
The Contribution to Youth recognition award went to Wendy MacBean for her work promoting cross community dance and fitness with the Fountain Dance Association and Foyle Youth and Community Association, while the Young Women’s Recognition Award went to Kryzzel Felwa for her contribution to supporting young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, especially the Filipino community, through the Kabalikat in North West group.
Extending her congratulations to everyone who took part in the event, the Mayor said it was a significant occasion for the city and a perfect forum to acknowledge local women.
She added: “Tonight’s event is hugely important in that it allows us to acknowledge the important role played by women in our local community and to thank them for the excellent work they are doing in making a real difference to the lives of many.”
Joanna Boyd from Derry City and Strabane District Council, who co-ordinated the awards said the awards were another hugely successful event. “It is fantastic to see so many inspirational women in the city and district who are working tirelessly to benefit others and we are delighted to be able to acknowledge them through this event,” she said.
She also extended her thanks to Local Women Magazine for sponsoring the event.