Friday 16th March saw students, staff, and supporters gather in the Chapel for the third annual Women of the Year Awards. Run by UCSU’s Female Empowerment Society in conjunction with Holly Allum, the current Women’s Officer, these awards celebrate and champion women and non-binary individuals and their male allies in a variety of areas across the university. The awards were split into three main categories; Academic awards, where heads of departments and lecturers nominated female students who they felt pro-actively contributed to their course and department; SU awards, where SU staff nominated students who they felt contributed significantly to the SU and the student community; and peer nominated awards, where any student could nominate an individual for their contribution to the university community within specific guidelines. All these nominations were carefully considered by a committee made up of students and FES members, before reaching a decision on who they felt were most deserving of each award.
The night started off beautifully with a violin performance by Music student and UCSU Trans Officer Jamie Faulkner before a touching opening speech by Holly, where she told the audience about the women who inspire her. Rufus Grant (FES VP) and Isobel Nicholson (RAG Officer) presented the academic awards to deserving students, many of whom were in attendance to collect their awards, before a performance by Loretta Padgett who sung Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful. Following this were the first of the Peer Awards, presented by current and past SU officers, including a rousing speech on diversity and inclusion within the university from former President Luke Sheavyn. The awards then broke for a short interval following a performance from first year student Katie Deeds, reading Olivia Gatwood’s poem Ode to Norma Jean.
The gathered audience were welcomed back with the Students’ Union Awards, with Societies and Volunteering co-ordinator Casper Beade presenting Volunteer of the Year, and Lombe Mwamba and Lucy Piggott from the Anita White Foundation giving an impassioned speech about inclusion and involvement of women in sport before presenting Sportswoman of the Year. Penny Bennett, from WISH – UCSU FES’s charity of the year – then presented the award for Contribution to the University followed up by another fantastic performance with Rachel Addenbrooke singing Brave by Sara Bareilles.
Laura Ritchie, Professor of Music, then delivered a stunning keynote speech about the power of women including reciting Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Women, before announcing 2018’s Woman of the Year. Holly and Jenni Block (UCSU FES President) closed the night with honourable mentions to those who may not have won in their categories but deserved recognition for their hard work and to those who had helped and supported both the SU and the society across the year, followed by a short speech from Jenni thanking everyone who helped make the event such a huge success.
It’s difficult to capture with words and photos the positivity, emotion, and feeling of warmth within the room with close to 100 people joining together to recognise some phenomenal women who work tirelessly to ensure the university is welcoming to all. UCSU FES and Holly Allum would like to thank everyone involved in making this night such a success, especially to all the nominees and winners.
Full list of winners
Business Department – Millie Thomas
Education Department – Jess Breach
Music Department – Danika Gawronski
Physical Education Department – Adele Page
Psychology and Counselling Department – Isabel Wealleans
Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department – Rachel Page
Peer Nominated Awards
BME Student of the Year – Sian Burrowes
LGBT+ Student of the Year – Paige Holdsworth
Male Ally of the Year – Jamie Faulkner
International Student of the Year – Agnes Saaren
Female Lecturer of the Year – Sarah Collins
FES Member of the Year – Rufus Grant
Contribution to the University – Holly Allum
Woman of the Year – Jenni Block
Students’ Union Awards
Volunteer of the Year – Daisy Smale
Sportswoman of the Year – Sian Burrowes
Article written by Jenni Block
Photos taken by Aimee Webb