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
of the Year
Woman in community/charity/voluntary sector
Cllr Susan Bayford
Businesswoman of the Year
Mum of the Year
Success Story of the Year
Readers’ Woman of the Year
Inspirational Woman of the Year
Woman of Courage
Woman in the Arts
Young Woman of the Year
Woman in Fashion
Woman in Education
Woman to Watch