Emotional night of incredible stories

Anna Wardley
Anna Wardley
Picture: Franca Perletti

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She’s battled fleets of stinging jellyfish, stormy weather, and the freezing seas of the Inner Hebrides.

And last night Anna Wardley walked away with Most Inspirational Woman of the Year Award at an event celebrating dozens of women like her.

It was The News’ inaugural Woman of the Year Awards, bringing together those who have made huge achievements in areas such as business, law, health and education.

And it also united those women who have worked hard to overcome difficulties in their family lives and who strive to do their very best for their loved ones, day in, day out, with no fuss.

Anna, 37, from Alverstoke, Gosport, raised more than £50,000 by undertaking the gruelling Five Islands Swim around, Dragonera, Mallorca, Portsea Island, Jersey, Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and, most recently, 60 miles round the Isle of Wight.

There was a huge round of applause when she picked up the gong.

She said: ‘I feel honoured to receive this award.

‘I’ve had such amazing support in Portsmouth and Gosport. It’s great to be recognised for what I’ve done.

‘Raising the money for charities and actually doing the swim has been such a major part of my life for the past two years.

‘It’s taken so much commitment, not only from me, but from my whole support team.

‘Thank you to The News for this award.’

The tears flowed from Anne Sewell as she watched her beloved sister Dorothy Sawyer collect the Readers’ Choice Award.

Anne nominated Dorothy for dedicating her life to looking after their elderly father and their sister Lorraine, who has learning difficulties.

Every day Dorothy travels from her home in Basin Street, North End, to Fareham to care for them, while also caring for her autistic grandson.

Dorothy said: ‘I was shocked to have been nominated and I’m completely overwhelmed that I’ve won.

‘I do it out of love for my dear family.’

Anne said: ‘Dorothy deserves this award.

‘It is down to her that my father and sister are able to stay in the family home.

‘I’m so, so pleased for her.’

It was an emotional night with lots of tears over the stories of those highlighted, but also laughter and smiles for the joyful tales that were shared with more than 150 people.

The point of the awards was to recognise women from all walks of life, from across the area, who make important contributions to other people’s lives – no matter how big or small.

The judges had a difficult time trying to single out winners because every woman who was nominated for an award last night has had an impact on someone’s life.

Winners (in bold) and nominees

Online Businesswoman

of the Year

Clare Satchwell

Haley Storey

Sally Brooming

Hannah Hares

Woman in community/charity/voluntary sector

Pam Marshall

Kim Hosier

Clare Martin

Cllr Susan Bayford

Elaine Bowes

Jayne Gentle

Sabrina Richards

Suzanne Stokes

Alison Reeds

Jacky Charman

Businesswoman of the Year

Jenna Edwards

Sally Spicer

Deborah McGregor

Claire Hallett-Walsh

Emma Weatherstone

Stephanie Kynaston

Heidi Ormsby

Sue Ball

Mum of the Year

Deborah Churcher

Sarah Barron

Diane Daley

Verity Lovelock

Nicola Clarke

Success Story of the Year

Joanna Murchie

Paula Orton

Louise Whitmore

Karren Currie

Readers’ Woman of the Year

Dorothy Sawyer

Doris Long

Inspirational Woman of the Year

Anna Wardley

Jean Louth

Chris Pitman

Susan Cowe

Woman of Courage

Lorraine Blackburn

Danielle Wellington

Woman in the Arts

Sandra Smith

Helen McCusker

Carrole Coles

Sheena Hall

Young Woman of the Year

Holly Ure

Amber Leigh-Mitchell

Beth Evans

Woman in Fashion

Charlotte Cornelius

Cheryl Diment

Woman in Education

Shona Marshall

Sue Newman

Woman to Watch

Tara Knight

Kathy Fitchett

Hannah Riches

Kris Pryer

Hilary Channing

Kim Millar