Three Wirral women win at Merseyside Women of the Year awards

Three women from Wirral have been revealed as winners of the Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2024.

Lynne Akwei-Howe, Founder and CEO of Crea8ing Community, was named winner in the Social Impact category, Amanda Unsworth, MD of Trinity Logistics, was named winner in the Entrepreneur category, and Jayne Hughes, founder of the charity Amy and Friends was celebrated as the winner of the Women of Courage category.

Lynne Akwei-Howe

Lynne Akwei-Howe won the Social Impact award, sponsored by Rise Construction Framework for her work establishing and leading Crea8ing Community, 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. The Social Impact Runner-Up was Tracey Roberts, founder of the Jade L Roberts Project.

Amanda Unsworth

Amanda Unsworth was recognised in the Entrepreneur category, sponsored by Investec Wealth & Investment (UK), part of the Rathbones Group Plc, for her work at the helm of 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. The Entrepreneur Runner-Up was Kiera Vogel, from Senate Group.

Jayne Hughes

Jayne Hughes won the Women of Courage award, sponsored by Auteur Media, for her work establishing Amy and Friends, a charity supporting children suffering from DNA repair disorders in childhood, and their families/carers.

The charity 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 over 300 family members from across the world and 42 scientists/medics to collaborate with research, make diagnoses, 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. The Women of Courage Runner-Up was Adele Connah, a cancer survivor and creator of ‘healing baskets’ for others going through treatment.

Donna Scully

Donna Scully, joint owner and director at Carpenters Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of insurance and legal services was named the overall Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024, as well as 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.”

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.

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

All images credit: Ray Farley

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