I attended this year’s “Women of the Year Lunch” at the InterContinental Hotel in London. The organisation was founded in 1955 by the late Tony Lothian OBE, Odette Hallowes and Lady Georgina Coleridge to celebrate women’s achievements whatever field they were in.
You are not your “job title” at this event, you are a woman who has “achieved” and sometimes against the odds. There are no feelings of “less than”, or “more than” it is an atmosphere of females, connecting and celebrating.
Hosted by the extraordinary, Sandi Toksvig, whose delivery had us in fits of laughter at one point, followed by being able to hear a pin drop at the next. There’s something very special about Sandi. Lunch is complimented by the company on your table, both last year and this year I sat with ladies I had never met before, but we connected.
Singing from the Military Wives Choir, a keynote speech from the President, Baroness Helen Kennedy QC, and the sweet awards ceremony which this year honoured author P D James, Zanab Salbi, Doreen Lawrence, Kate Woolveridge and Team GBs Olympians and Paralympians. The award winners and the sponsors are detailed on the Women of the Year website.
Whilst not downgrading the achievements of any of the winners, I am going to single out the beautiful Doreen Lawrence, winner of “Woman of the Year Campaigner Award”. Her short speech enveloped in memories of her son Stephen brought tears to her eyes. The words “no parent should have to bury their child” is probably one that many of us have stated at some time, and I hope as you read this you never had to do it. But Doreen has, not as a result of illness or an accident, but as a result of a mindless act of racism. Perhaps you can understand why many of us also shed a tear with her.
I’ll leave you with a little chuckle and thought, the funniest part of the day was aiming for the Ladies Room to fix my well curled hair which had been attacked by the “hairspray rain” – and I know you know exactly what I mean! When I got there I realised I wasn’t alone. There were about 40 of us politely aiming for the mirrors with tongs, straighteners, gels and brushes. We gave up after a while and admitted defeat – but do you know it really didn’t matter. Yes it’s great to look good of course it is, but on this day the energy in the room and the reason for our invitations took preference.
Take a look at the Women of the Year website and you’ll see highlights of their previous lunches and award winners.