Monday 13th October marked the 60th Women of the Year Lunch and Awards; an event which honours women from all walks of life in recognition of their contribution to society.
To my surprise, in August of this year, I was selected to attend the lunch in honour of my work raising awareness and reducing the stigma attached to mental health. I was so grateful to receive the invitation and very thankful of the opportunity. I don’t know what excited me more; the fact that I had been nominated a Woman of the year, the honour to have lunch with some inspirational women and celebrities or the opportunity to network with some amazing women at the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel, Park Lane.
The event went off to a great start. As I exited the taxi, I was welcomed by a red carpet which led into the venue. During this time, a crowd of enthusiastic photographers insistently took pictures as I walked towards the hotel, so naturally, I stopped and allowed them to take my picture in front of the ‘Women of the Year’ pop up screen. I don’t think I have ever been papped before, perhaps they thought I was someone else?
The event continued to impress me. We were all welcomed with champagne and nibbles and were able to network before the lunch began. A keen networker, I jumped at this opportunity and began conversation with a group of very inspirational women. I spoke to Amy Hughes, a woman who had ran 53 marathons in 53 consecutive days, Lady Emily Fitzroy, founder of the prestigious Bellini Travel and the Hon Diana Makgill, former president and protocol adviser, to name a few.
The lunch itself was amazing. I can still remember the great taste of the Pot roasted guinea fowl on creamed spinach, crushed violet potatoes, autumn carrots and baby squash. To begin with, I wasn’t too keen on eating a purple potato but after the first bite, I knew I was onto a winner. Bramley apple and almond tart followed of which even Mel Giedroyc from the Great British Bake Off approved.
Then was onto the awards which included an Enterprise Award, won by Jack Monroe, author of ‘A girl called Jack’, ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman award, won by Joanne Thompson founder of Millie’s Trust and the Life Time Achievement Award, won by the amazing Christina Noble OBE, founder of The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation. Other winners included Diana Nammi from the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, Fahma Mohamed who launched a petition to safeguard girls from FGM and Beatrice Mtetwa, who campaigns for the defence of journalists and freedom of the press. Hearing these women talk made me feel so inspired and frankly, proud to be a woman.
After the lunch came more networking opportunities which allowed me to speak to Sandi Toksvig, Comedienne and host for the lunch. I found her to be very approachable and she really listened to what I had to say. I told her about what we did at Altruist and then asked for a sneaky picture. In addition to meeting Sandi, I met so many other great women (too many to mention) that I hope I will be able to work with in the future.
All in all, it was a great event but I wish it was longer. I had such an amazing time and really hope that they invite me back next year.