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Merseyside Women of the Year (MWOTY) Awards 2024 Winners Revealed

Carpenters Group director, Donna Scully, named overall ‘Woman of the Year’ 2024 and recognised for her professional and community-focused achievements, while BBC journalist, broadcaster, community leader and founder of iWoman Academy, Ngunan Adamu, was awarded the 2024 Fellowship award.

Donna Scully, joint owner and director at Carpenters Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of insurance and legal services has been named Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024 and winner of the Business Leader category.

Based in Liverpool for over 25 years with a proud Irish heritage, Donna is a global leader in the insurance world and an advocate and supporter for those in society who need extra care and help.

Her professional career as a lawyer, experienced public speaker and podcaster has seen her work closely with the Ministry of Justice in relation to motor claims and civil justice reform, while also leading Carpenters Group, which employs more than 2,000 people and is one of the region’s biggest business success stories.

Drawing on her own personal experience, Donna also dedicates much of her time directly to helping people in need. She runs a homeless breakfast club every Sunday which she personally attends and prepares food, is an ambassador for Fans Supporting Foodbanks, a Football for Change Champion and a mentor for the Girls Network & The Insurance Breakfast Club.

The prestigious ‘Woman of the Year’ award was presented to Donna by headline sponsors, Financial Planning Corporation (FPC), at the glittering Merseyside Women of the Year Awards ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Liverpool City Centre on Friday 28th June 2024, which was attended by more than 400 guests.

Receiving the top award Donna said:

“Yesterday was my 27th anniversary of coming to Liverpool. As a scally from Dublin inner city, I really feel like an honourary Scouser now.

“I’m really shocked, humbled and privileged. To be among the best women that Merseyside has to offer, I’m delighted. Ellie also tells me I am the first Irish person to win this, so that makes me even more proud, for all the Irish women that came over as immigrants to Merseyside – this is for them.”

MWOTY Founding Director, Ellie Kerr, said:

“Donna epitomises the spirit of MWOTY. She is an incredibly successful woman in business, whose vision, leadership and compassion has driven Carpenters Group’s success.

“While on that remarkable journey she has never lost sight of the importance of community, of raising other women up, sharing her skills to develop the next generation of women leaders and giving her time generously to support those in our society who need it most. She is a shining example of how being a business leader and compassionate and community-minded are not mutually exclusive, and in fact are the perfect combination to drive success and change.

“As well as congratulating Donna on her fabulous achievements, I would also like to celebrate all of our category winners and runners-up. The calibre of nominations this year was absolutely exceptional and just being in the room today as a finalist is a significant achievement. We welcome you all to the MWOTY movement and look forward to our journey together over the next 12 months and beyond.”

Donna was one of 12 winners revealed at this year’s MWOTY awards, who were celebrated across a range of categories for supporting and improving the lives of people in Merseyside and beyond, through business leadership, voluntary work, activism, charitable organisations tackling some of Merseyside’s most pressing challenges, and entrepreneurial and creative endeavours.

The announcement of the overall Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024 award was the climax of an uplifting and empowering afternoon hosted by comedienne, singer, actress and long-standing MWOTY commère Pauline Daniels.

During the afternoon, guests heard from keynote speaker, Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, there was delicious food and drink, a silent auction and fundraising for the Community Foundation for Merseyside’s Women’s Fund and the MWOTY Legacy Fund.

The Arts, Culture & Media award, sponsored by Morecrofts, was awarded to Jacqui McAssey, a designer and image maker, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool School of Art and Design, and founder of the fanzine GIRLFANS. Using photography, print and social media Jacqui has given female football supporters visibility and a sense of belonging in football culture, and developed a football merchandise and memorabilia concept, which reclaims and feminises phrases, chants and songs from the former male-dominated football terraces.

Arts, Culture & Media Runner-Up: Kate Martinez, Sefton Park Palm House

The Business Leader award, sponsored by IoD Liverpool, was presented to Donna Scully for her achievement establishing and building Carpenters Group to become one of the region’s biggest success stories.

Business Leader Runner-Up: Serena Silcock-Prince, Silcock Leisure Group

The Community Leader award, sponsored by Neo Community and ADDvanced Solutions, saw judges select two joint winners: Claire Morgans, CEO of YKids and Jo Henney, CEO of Nugent.

Claire was recognised for her work with YKids, a local charity established 20 years ago that positively impacts on the lives of thousands of children, young people and their families. Through the organisation Claire has set up two social enterprises and the Kingsley & Co bookshop, creating employment and training for over 150 young people facing barriers to work and has raised over 7.5 million pounds which has been invested back in the community.

Jo was celebrated for her inspirational leadership of her team of 450 and vision in positioning Nugent at the forefront of social care within Merseyside, operating more than 15 vital services, seeking to provide care pathways that support individuals from birth through to end of life.
The Entrepreneur award, sponsored by Investec Wealth & Investment (UK), part of the Rathbones Group Plc, was presented to Amanda Unsworth, Managing Director of Trinity Logistics. A female-led business in a male dominated industry. Amanda’s career story began with her working as a docker at Liverpool Port at the age of 17. From there she worked for a number of shipping lines in the UK and Europe, eventually holding a global management position in India, before later establishing Trinity Logistics. She took her first company to a turnover of £42 million in 2022 and opened a sister office in Shenzhen, China – all before the age of 40.

Entrepreneur Runner-Up: Kiera Vogel, Senate Group

The Inspirational Women award, sponsored by the Community Foundation for Merseyside, was won by Katie Gordon-Orr, Chair of Fighting to be Heard, a charity campaigning for individuals with secondary breast cancer, which she set up in 2021 along with 19 other women. Fighting to be Heard was founded to create a platform for those facing secondary breast cancer to be heard and to provide financial support and friendship to each other.

Inspirational Women Runner-Up: Leanne Hobin, Merseyside Police & St Helens Bees Netball Club

The Social Impact award, sponsored by Rise Construction Framework, was awarded to Lynne Akwei-Howe, Founder and CEO of Crea8ing Community. The organisation is a youth employability service that has swiftly expanded to wraparound support helping vulnerable families experiencing issues with mental health, SEND, bullying, domestic violence, and substance abuse, and has influenced community provision across Wirral and Merseyside. Under Lynne’s stewardship the organisation has achieved exponential growth, evolving from a grassroots self-funded solo act to a thriving organisation with +£500k p.a. in funding and a dedicated team of 22 employees and 30 active volunteers, all in under five years.

Social Impact Runner-Up: Tracey Roberts, The Jade L Roberts Project

The Women of Courage award, sponsored by Auteur Media, went to Jayne Hughes, CEO of Amy and Friends, a charity supporting children suffering from DNA repair disorders in childhood, and their families/carers, which was established to create a legacy for her daughter, Amy, who passed away in 2020 and a better future for other families like theirs. The charity holds an annual conference bringing together +300 family members from across the world and 42 scientists/medics to collaborate with research, make diagnosis, and provide help and guidance, as well as offering 24/7 online support, respite for parents/siblings and weekly zoom activities to reduce isolation. In 2019, Jayne also set up a rare disease clinic for children affected by Cockayne Syndrome and related disorders.

Women of Courage Runner-Up: Adele Connah, Cancer survivor and creator of ‘healing baskets’

The Women Making a Difference award, sponsored by the Crowne Plaza Liverpool City Centre, was won by Ema Quinn, Choir Manager for the Choir with No Name (CWNN) Liverpool, which involves people who are affected by homelessness or otherwise marginalised. The choir is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and Ema has managed the choir since joining six months after it was established. In that time, it has welcomed 391 people and performed +150 gigs. Ema has touched every single person. She goes far over and above the remit of her part time role, with many choir members saying that her compassion, empathy, practical, problem-solving nature and willingness to help has saved their lives. Ema also runs GoodGym Liverpool, a group of local residents who run, walk, or cycle to help out community projects and older people.

Women Making a Difference Runner-Up: Paula Thompson, Spectrum Connect CIO

The Women in Health and Wellbeing award, sponsored by itsabouttimeme/Lawmed, was won by Abby Younis of Women Conquering Cancer. Abby was diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer during COVID. Determined to “payback” the Liverpool Women’s Hospital (LWH) for the swift treatment she received during the pandemic, help other women, and make her cancer a “good news story”, she approached LWH to offer the Mona Lisa Touch laser treatment on the NHS to help women suffering from debilitating urogenital symptoms of surgical and natural menopause. She raised £50,000 though a host of activities, whilst still recovering from her surgery, and Liverpool Women’s Hospital will make history for being the first hospital to provide this life-changing treatment on the NHS, benefitting thousands of women.

Women in Health and Wellbeing Runner-Up: Jen Deeney, Liverpool Women’s Neonatal Partnership

The Women to Watch award, sponsored by MWOTY and presented by Bernice Blundell from headline sponsor FPC, was awarded to Emily McChrystal, a young leader and changemaker empowering marginalised young people in the Liverpool City Region and beyond to demand that their voices are heard and enact change in our community. She was pivotal in the establishment and development of Comic Youth’s Marginal Publishing House, the first youth-led publisher of its kind in the UK, supporting the publication of 18 books directly made by marginalised creatives within Merseyside. She was the sole facilitator in the ground-breaking Wealth Shared project to distribute £100k to organisations in L8 and is now a Youth Power Coordinator at Restless Development. Emily has supported +535,000 community members within the UK directly through her campaigning, engagement, and training.

Women to Watch Runner-Up: Merfat Musleh, Savera UK

Full information on all winners and runners-up can be found here:

Moira O’Shaughnessy, Managing Partner at FPC LLP:

“Business leaders in our region have many opportunities to extend their influence to do good – not all are able or choose to do so, but some do take up that opportunity and put their whole hearts into making a positive difference to the lives of those around them.

“Donna Scully is a woman who does and the comments from supporters of her nomination so heartfelt that the impact she has made felt tangible just reading them.

“To quote a couple – “Donna is like no other woman I have ever come across in the charity sector”, she is “a champion of the vulnerable and a voice for the homeless and the most caring person you could wish to meet” and we “would live in a better world if only we could have more people with the humanity that lives in Donna’s heart.”

“From all the FPC team, our sincerest congratulations to Donna on her award, and gratitude for all she does and will, we know, continue to do!”

MWOTY also presented its second ever Fellowship award, which was established in 2023 to celebrate outstanding contribution to the Liverpool City Region and beyond.

The 2024 Fellowship award was presented to Ngunan Adamu, a BBC journalist, broadcaster, community leader and founder and CEO of iWoman Media Ltd and iWoman Academy CIC, peer-to-peer organisation set up to empower, entertain, explore and inspire women around the world. Throughout her extensive career Ngunan has worked on local, national, and international initiatives that address diversity, equity and inclusion, empowering women in Merseyside and beyond and training journalists in the UK, Africa and Asia, from Ethiopia to Bangladesh.

Ngunan is also a prominent Scouse voice on the international stage, co-hosting the Eurovision podcast during the song contest’s phenomenal year in Liverpool, and more recently being celebrated as one of five Liverpool icons selected to name the new Cunard ship Queen Anne at its citywide celebrations.

Ellie said:

“Ngunan is a powerful local that is championing our region around the world. She works tirelessly to provide and support platforms that seek to empower and inspire women from all backgrounds to develop self-belief, gain financial independence and achieve their full potential. She does this while also creating supportive and inclusive networks where woman can truly thrive. She is a proud part of our MWOTY Movement and a deserving recipient for our second Fellowship award.”

The Merseyside Women of the Year Awards will return in 2025, on Friday 27th June, with 2025 nominations set to open in January.

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