Winners of the 30th Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards

Overall Yorkshire Woman of Achievement 2016 and Community Impact Award Winner: Jayne Senior

Jayne was a youth worker in Rotherham who became manager of a project called Risky Business, which worked with victims of child exploitation. She is passionate about educating people to recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation and how to prevent it. This included holding a major conference offering advice and how to tackle the issue. She continues to support the young girls who were helped by Risky Business.


Category Winners:


Special Recognition Award: Ros Jenkins and Barbara Barrett

This award was special to this year’s 30th Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards, to recognise the efforts of the two women who founded the event. In 1987 Ros and Barbara were fundraisers at Wheatfields Hospice when they launched the first awards. Thanks to their hard work the awards have raised over £500,000 for Wheatfields Hospice since it began.


Yorkshire Rose Award: The Calendar Girls

This year’s Yorkshire Rose Award winners were the original calendar girls. Recognised for all the fundraising they have done over the past 18 years and their efforts to put our Yorkshire county in the spotlight. Starting with just wanting to fundraise enough to buy a sofa for the hospital, the calendar girls generated so much attention that they have raised over £3,000,000.


Woman of Achievement in Business: Mary Benson

Mary is a successful fashion designer whose ethereal designs in print and textiles are worn by many celebrities, particularly in the music industry. She left Leeds to study fashion design at the University of Westminster and has worked with some of the top names in the fashion world, including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Terry de Havilland.


Woman of Achievement in Education: Christina Gabbitas

Christina has a passion for helping children enjoy and engage with literature. She visits schools and festivals, delivering workshops to children to help them learn about life ‘with fun’, through her own books. She has established her own children’s literature festival and receives backing from the V&A and British Library. Her recent book that helps children understand how and when to speak out about sexual abuse was highly praised by the NSPCC.

Woman of Achievement in Sport: Claire O’Hara Blanchard

Claire is the most successful female freestyle kayaker in history, winning a combined eight World Championships. Claire has pushed the sport to new levels and achieved scores in kayaking that are almost double her nearest competitor and place her side by side with male athletes. Claire is an inspirational role model who travels the world coaching, training and mentoring groups from top athletes through to complete beginners and young children.


Young Achiever: Sarah Sobka

Sarah is a girl with a breadth of genuine intellectual curiosity. Since winning the first prize in the National Science and Engineering Competition at the Big Bang Fair in 2015, she has continued to enthuse and inspire others. Still only 18 years old she has spoken at the Royal Society of Medicine’s Innovations Summit and appeared on both the BBC and ITV Calendar News highlighting how girls can be successful in Science.

Jane Tomlinson Award for Courage: Jackie Roberts

Jackie is a prominent supporter of the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK, becoming a drowning prevention officer last year. Jackie has raised thousands of pounds for the charity following the death of her daughter Megan in 2014 who drowned after falling into the River Ouse while walking home from a night out.  Jackie has been instrumental in promoting RLSS UK campaigns, and has helped those who have suffered similar losses.