Pin It

The Eleventh Merseyside Woman of The Year is Louise Gillespie

Merseyside woman of the year 2013 louise gillespie

In 2010 Louise Gillespie set up as a sole trader in a business specialising in selling costume jewellery.  At the outset her aim was to provide her 15 year old daughter (Jessica) with a part time job and income for the following two years when she would be studying for her “A” levels.   Louise started off with a vision of how she wanted Jessie’s Jewels to trade and was not put off by any real or perceived barriers, e.g. finance, risk, lack of experience and simply “going it alone”. 

Through networking and using social media sites Louise has been involved in supporting other local businesses and charities donating items from the Jessie’s Jewels collection.  For the last 25 years up until April 2012 she worked full time as a Practice Manager in a law firm, during the past 2 years the brand “Jessie’s Jewels – specialists in costume jewellery” has grown from selling via small events and small jewellery parties to having almost 30 concession cabinets in hairdressers, spas, photography studios and beauty salons, with numbers still growing.

Jeanette Kehoe-Perkinson receives Heart & Soul of Merseyside Award

heart and soul of merseyside award winner jeanette kehoe-perkinson with esther Mcvey

Jeanette is global HR director at Tommee Tippee but has never lost sight of her Liverpool roots, she has been instrumental in the regeneration and renaissance of Merseyside. Her influence has been felt by women and men throughout our region. Jeanette helps to focus on the growth opportunities within her vibrant home city Liverpool and helps many individuals and organisations to develop and progress within Merseyside and the UK. 

Claire Dove MBE OBE receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Claire dove2

Claire Dove MBE OBE, 'Queen’s Award for Social Enterprise winner also receives lifetime achievement award from Merseyside Women of The Year.

The honour recognises her work with Blackburne House to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and Black people in the Merseyside area, her role in Liverpool’s recovery and regeneration since the city’s riots in 1981, and her commitment to growing the social enterprise sector across the UK and internationally.

Under Claire’s leadership, Blackburne House – one of the most successful women’s organisations and social enterprises in the UK – has quickly grown and extended its reach into some of Liverpool’s most disadvantaged areas, now helping more than 1000 people each year gain employment skills and training to help them find long-term work.

Claire also champions the social enterprise sector in her role as chair of Social Enterprise UK – the national body for social enterprise. Her political and campaigns work - including her support for the Social Value Act, which became law in January 2013 - has contributed to the rise of the sector, which is now more than 68,000-businesses-strong in the UK. Social enterprises are now outstripping mainstream small and medium sized businesses for growth.

Sandra Nixon Runner Up in Women of Philanthropy Award

Sandra Nixon

Sandra is a true inspiration to all, from her work as Learning and Development Manager at QVC, to the wider community, as a mentor or volunteer.

Whilst in the Training Department, Learning and Development increased the number of courses offered to all employees.  Externally Sandra has developed QVC’s close relationship with John Moore’s University and has also championed The Prince’s Trust work experience programme and supported Knowsley Chamber with training on self awareness and coaching.  Sandra is now even better known externally as she was invited to be the voice of QVC in their display at the new Museum of Liverpool.  Sandra is constantly looking for new challenges, she recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro raising over £1,600, she completed a 60km sponsored walk in Kenya raising over £12,500, helped the HR team from QVC to renovate a house with Barnardos, raising money by completing a 14,000 foot tandem parachute jump.  She is a true inspiration to all who have met and been guided by her.

Kate Cowie Winner of Women In Philanthropy Award

women of philanthropy award winner kate cowie with elaine owen and ellen kerr of women in business

After a 10 year career in Hospitality Management Kate moved to Liverpool in 1998 with two friends to set up Coffee Union on Bold Street – Liverpool’s first independent coffee shop. Another branch soon followed and their small business flourished.  It wasn’t long before the trio spotted a further opportunity to set up a store showcasing the best of contemporary design-led products. They opened their first Utility store in November 1999, and the tiny boutique became an overnight success story.

Over the past 13 years Utility has expanded into larger stores in Liverpool and in 2011 their first London store opened in Kings Cross. The company has been lucky enough to win several awards including The Telegraph Best Small Shop in Britain for Interiors Award in 2011. Other recent accolades include Mersey Tourism’s Retailer of the Year in 2011 and the Giftware Association’s UK Gift Retailer of the Year Award in 2012.  In the last two years Kate has been involved with various committees and between them have raised over £50,000 for charity.

Claire Lindley Winner of Professional Women of Achievement Award

Professional women of achievement award winner claire lindley with lyn staunton of the house beauty spa

As Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Merseyside-Cheshire Area, Claire Lindley is the most senior female prosecutor in the region. Amongst her many responsibilities she is the strategic lead for Violence Against Women and Girl’s (VAWG). Under her dedicated and proactive leadership CPS Merseyside-Cheshire has developed its first Violence Against Women and Girl’s Strategy and Action Plan.

Through her professionalism, determination and personal commitment to this area of work, Claire has ensured that the CPS has improved the way in which it identifies Violence Against Women and Girl’s offences.

She is always ready to listen and ready to care, she uses her knowledge, skills and influence to ensure that the views and experiences of the most vulnerable victims and witnesses remain at the heart of the criminal justice system.

As Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Claire is the most senior female prosecutor in the Merseyside-Cheshire area.  She is true to herself and what she believes in, an outstanding lawyer who has worked incredibly hard to achieve the success she has. 

Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale Runner Up in Professional Women of Achievement Award

Dr. Denise Barrett-Baxendale

Dr. Denise Barrett-Baxendale is the Chief Operating Officer of Everton Football Club and Chief Executive Officer of the Clubs official charity Everton in the Community (EITC). Denise combines these roles with an unrelenting passion and desire to bring the best possible services, experiences and opportunities to the people of Merseyside and beyond.

In November 2011 it was Denise’s vision and leadership which helped EITC become the first professional club community scheme in the country to gain Government approval to open a Free School in Liverpool, giving disadvantaged young people an exciting alternative education pathway. Furthermore, in May 2011 Denise played a pivotal role in the Charity being awarded £930,000 from the Big Lottery to deliver a 5-year project called ‘Safe Hands’ working with young offenders in secure facilities. Denise has guided the Charity to win more than 40 major awards, as well as a European Stadium Business Awards as the ‘Best Community Scheme in Europe’ and ‘Community Club of the Year’ Awards in 2011 and 2012. 

Lynne Higgins Winner of Community Award

community award winner lynne higgins with anne pickering HR manager of 02

Runs a shop giving clothing, books and furniture away free of charge and encourages her community to recycle their unwanted goods.  The shop receives no funding and is totally self-reliant.  Lynne also recently started a food co-operative for families who are struggling to put meals on the table for their children.

Lynne and her husband have fostered for 20 years and she also runs a successful foster care support group in her church. As a busy mum and foster parent, lack of time is her greatest enemy and she is fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family and team of volunteers.  She has also had one of her disabled children in hospital very poorly for most of last year and both Lynne and her husband spent 12 hours daily at his bedside.

Lynne was delighted to be part of a shoebox distribution team visiting Serbia.  This had been an ambition for many years and she came back a changed person throwing herself into raising awareness and funds for the appeal all year round.

LILA Winner of Learning Award

Learning award winners lila with jo ives of LJMU

Two entrepreneurial sisters have made their company into the biggest English language school in Liverpool. Victoria Lee and Leanne Linacre, who established LILA in 2004 as a small independent language school, teaching from their front rooms, have since then transformed their business into a thriving, independent language school delivering 9,000 student weeks a year, from over 50 countries. All this while having two babies each!

The "Knowledge Quarter" in Liverpool, is a modern term in business given to the vicinity of Liverpool City Centre that focuses heavily on the education, knowledge and research sectors. LILA has helped to push forward the dialogue on where Liverpool’s economy is going. The development of the knowledge economy plan would have been difficult without their involvement. It provided money and staff to drive it. Its participation gave the venture a certain endorsement and that was helpful in capturing the participation of many different players. LILA has also championed the benefits of studying within the UK in the many international fairs and conferences they attend. 

Lisa Grant Runner Up In Learning Award

Lisa Grant

Lisa Grant has changed the way nurses work at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust.  As one of the country’s youngest Directors of Nursing, Lisa has worked hard to achieve a position in which she could make a real difference to the care of patients.  She has transformed the nursing structure at The Walton Centre; brought about huge improvements in patient care and safety, and given nurses new and innovative ways of working.

At the age of 23 she was promoted to sister and in 2009 Lisa was appointed Deputy Director of Nursing at The Walton Centre, Just 18 months later the Director of Nursing and Modernisation post became vacant and, aged just 34, Lisa achieved the promotion she had been working so hard for. Since her appointment Lisa has put in place changes which directly impact on patients and have resulted in measurable improvements.

Lisa is an inspirational leader to nurses at all levels at The Walton Centre.  She sets high standards for patient care and ensures that excellence is at the heart of nursing practice.

Joy Hunter Winner of Inspirational Woman Award

Inspirational women joy hunter with laura hewitt of 60 hope street

At the age of 18 Joy moved from Scotland to follow her dream and work in the nursing profession in Liverpool.  She eventually worked as a psychiatric nurse at Ashworth and convinced her Mum and Dad that Liverpool was a great place to be.  Life was perfect for a while then at the age of 54 her father died and later her husband, but Joy continued to support her mum and child whilst working 60 hours a week. Bad luck struck again when her mother had a brain haemorrhage and was later diagnosed with lung cancer.

Joy did eventually meet her prince charming and had another daughter but fate struck again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, however, Joy was not giving up and continued with her work.  She convinced an investor to buy the nursing home where she worked and today that company is now worth millions.  Joy continues to work and care for her mother and is planning her own wedding! 

Christine Andain Runner Up in Inspirational Woman Award

Christine Andain

Christine is an inspirational woman who has battled illness to succeed in fulfilling her dream to become a published author, with three crime novels under her belt.  But, added to the fact, that she did all this whilst suffering severe ill health is remarkable. She has been finishing her latest novel and promoting her second, whilst looking for a new publisher all at a time most of us would have shied away from the limelight. If we could bottle her determination and verve we would be lucky indeed.

After a career in teaching throughout Liverpool, Christine has battled through the male dominated world of publishing to be a home-grown published crime novelist.  A woman who is undeterred and as a result a success, she is someone who is not prepared to give up whatever obstacle she faces. 

Christine has been involved with the Sunflowers charity, which is a cancer centre for people who have had cancer or who are suffering from the disease and provides guidance and help on a more holistic basis. At Christine’s last fundraising event she raised £4000.

Dorothy Zack-Willliams Winner of Caring Award

Caring award winner dorothy zack williams with sponsor liverpool womens hospital

A woman who has tackled the brutal  and illegal practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) head on and helped set up support networks and a special clinic for women who have experienced it, has bowed out of the local health service after over forty years of pioneering work in the city.

Dorothy Zack-Williams has acted as an agent for change both in the affected communities and the wider community. As a founder member of the Liverpool Multicultural Women’s Group, she  has provided support and advice for families to raise awareness against this cultural practice which can result in a lifetime of pain, infertility and even life-threatening conditions.  As Lead Governor at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, she has helped to set up a special link clinic at the hospital  to support women who have endured FGM.

In her other area of expertise, sickle cell disease and inherited blood disorders,  Dorothy as Clinical Nurse Specialist at Abercrombie Health Centre, single-handedly set up a clinic  for those suffering with the conditions, working with patients and their families from all over the North West.
Since arriving in the city in 1970 as a trainee nurse,  Dorothy has touched the lives of thousands of families with her dedication and enthusiasm in the roles of midwife, nurse, popular community health visitor and clinical specialist nurse.She has made her mark as a health professional of a unique kind, going far beyond the call of duty to enhance people's lives and ease their suffering. She has been a true and selfless professional.
Though retired, she will continue in her role as Lead Governor at Liverpool Women’s and is passionate about making it the best place in Liverpool for women to receive care.

Sharon Bird Runner Up In Caring Award

Sharon Bird

Sharon is a retired Assistant Director of Nursing who continues, through her voluntary work, to help improve care for patients and their families. Through her own experience of losing a loved one, she has spent the last six years working with the Palliative and End of Life Team at Aintree University Hospital in Fazakerley.

Work includes transforming relatives’ rooms where people are given bad news about loved ones to ensure that they provide a comfortable a safe haven for relatives.

In addition, Sharon has drawn on her experience of nursing and bereavement to help set up The Volunteer Companionship Service (VCS). The service aims to provide trained volunteers to give comfort and support to patients at end of life stages and their families.

Since its inception in May 2012 the VCS has already won three awards and other hospitals and hospices are keen to introduce the service. 

Eithne Browne Winner of Arts & Culture Award


With a career spanning over 30 years Eithne is one of Liverpool’s favourite daughters! With performances in Blood Brothers, Shirley Valentine, Abigail’s Party and Wuthering Heights and playing Chrissy in Brookside to name but a few!

She has been a big part of the theatre scene in Liverpool and a major player when it came to saving the Everyman Theatre when they needed to raise money.  Eithne has visited sheltered homes entertaining the elderly with pieces that she not only performs but has written herself, she also gets involved with reading projects to help those who can't read and write and various other charities.

Her son Neil was diagnosed with Aspergers in his twenties and so she struggled to get answers trying to find what his problems whilst being a single parent trying to build a career for herself which she not only managed to do but after Neil’s diagnosis she helped work with other mums to try and see if her experiences can help them to understand their children's problems.

Fenfen Huang Runner Up in Arts & Culture Award

Fenfen Huang

Fenfen came to Liverpool from China knowing very few people, limited language and understanding of British, let alone Scouse culture but she has helped many people from many walks of life.

She has delivered countless workshops with children and young people in schools and youth clubs around the region, teaching them Chinese culture with grace, elegance, knowledge and infectious enthusiasm.  From Chinese dance using fans, ribbons and handkerchiefs to storytelling and origami, she delivers every session with respect to her art and her audience. She also works with older people and people with medical and mental problems to bring a little sunshine to their lives.

Everything Fenfen does, she does with grace and professionalism. She is the ultimate multi-tasker who always has many projects on the go. She is a go-getter who will always follow her passions and make her dreams come true.

Memory Lane Winner of Women's Group Award

womens group

Is a non-profit voluntary organisation run by Patricia Mairs, Joan Best and Ann Cullen.  It was set up to provide much needed support for both carers and people who have various forms of dementia.   Through research and support from professional bodies they strive to take their support network right across the borough to enable as many people who are taking the dementia journey, come together and be acknowledged.

Through their own personal experiences, Pat & Joan have identified areas of support needed and with this in mind, they have developed their “unique” programme. With the ladies having to raise funds to finance their programme, these women have shown so much energy and devotion to ensure they have enough capital to continue with their current success and dedication.

WEB Runner Up in the Women's Group Award

Women's enterprising breakthrough

Women's Enterprising Breakthrough (WEB) is small community service; supporting women/girls with complex needs who may be isolated/victimised, discriminated against, have low self-esteem and lack hope; many, as a result of poverty/domestic/societal violence, sexual/abuse and other criminal activity.  They aim deliver a high quality service to women which provides the space, time and flexible support to help women regain confidence / self-esteem and promote opportunities for personal growth and skills development to enable them to get more from life.

The charity has been serving the deprived local community for over 18 years and has become recognised as an authority in a number of niche areas by a wide network of statutory, community and voluntary partners as a result of the diverse range of services on offer to vulnerable women and children.

Alison Appleton Winner of Innovation Award

Innovation award winner alison appleton with bryan adams of Ph. creative

Alison’s mission is to bring the beauty back to tea!  Her brand represents exquisitely designed yet fully functional teapots.  Her philosophy is to create elegant designs incorporating graceful curves with fine yet fully functional materials.  Her designs are genuine expressions of beauty, creativity and enjoyments of life, which is rare and refreshing!

The response and reaction to the Alison Appleton teapots has been overwhelming and in a short amount of time, retailers across the world clamber to be involved in the Alison Appleton brand.

Ultimately the biggest barrier Alison has had to overcome is the recession and many people thought she was taking a big risk in launching her own brand in the middle of it. However, Alison identified a gap in the market and believed she had something, which could fulfil this niche, whilst creating something she loved.  Alison is an incredibly selfless and an inspirational strong businesswoman with a compelling vision and building her empire in the North.

Alissa Koopal Runner Up in the Innovation Award

Alissa Koopal

Is a budding entrepreneur from Liverpool who has developed a children’s teething product.  Alissa who designed the IM BabyBangle set up Izzy Melody. A product which children can chew on to ease the pain of teething and which doubles up as a bangle to be worn by mum.

Whilst on maternity leave Alissa began to think about practical products for mums with small children hence the BabyBangle, which is now stocked in several stores in the UK, Ireland, Italy and Australia.  A Start-up Loan was provided by Merseyside Special Investment Fund, which is aimed at 18 – 30 year olds to launch their own business.  After the amazing launch at the UK Baby and Toddler show Alissa is now working on a new product range.

Ellie Phillips Runner Up in the Young Entrepreneur Award

Ellie Phillips

Whilst working on her Masters dissertation, Twenty six year old Ellie was simultaneously researching and working on launching the Liverpool Music Awards of which she is the Founder and Director.

Following the success of the first Liverpool Music Awards in 2012, Ellie has been headhunted by major music corporations and shortlisted for many awards for young entrepreneurs. She has also secured the legacy of the awards by setting up a sister Charity: The Liverpool Music Foundation, raising funds for disadvantaged youths who need help accessing music, whether it be an instrument or lessons to help them on their musical path.

Ellie believes that being a young woman - in an industry dominated by older men - is a positive thing.  She is happy to draw on her fresh ideas and untainted perspectives this combined with her passion and enthusiasm are some of her unique qualities that she brings to the Liverpool Music Awards. Ellie is eager to continue learning and growing as an individual, and is planning on pursuing a PHD in music business the next few years.

Sky Glover Winner of Young Entrepreneur Award

Young Entrepreneur award winner sky glover with rachael hoy of one park west

Sky is the Managing Director of Happy Go Cooking CIC (HGC).  HGC provides one-to-one and group cooking sessions encouraging and promoting healthy eating.  HGC has delivered its mission and vision to over 500 individuals through schools, outreach centres and community groups over a period of 2 years.  HGC will celebrate its 2nd birthday in April 2013 and any profit made is given back to the community in the form of free sessions in deprived areas.

Sky has raised close to £7,000 through funding applications and fund raising activities.  In turn, this has been spent providing free services to the most vulnerable of clients, she has shown grit and determination and has never given up,  she is a wonderful role model to women across the country and continues to motivate those around her.

HGC was started with no monies, no experience running a business and thrived due to a passion for change and personality to match.  Her ideas have only become reality due to her persistence and she is working with a breadth of organisations from MENCAP to The Independence Initiative, Local Schools to Voluntary organisations, she has consistently provided a service that is unrivalled in the field.

Karen Johnson Winner of Entrepreneur Award

Entrepreneur award sponsored by cheviot asset mangament karen johnson presented by alison moore

25 years ago Karen set up her business in her kitchen baking cakes, which she iced and wrote messages on them.  She hired a barrow in cavern walks and sold them in a few hours and the rest is history!   Today she employs 10 staff and with determination has made her business the success it is today.  To quote Karen “there’s no barriers only challenges”! Collectively her staff have worked for her for over 90 years.  Karen has raised over £30,000 for the girl guides through fundraising and grants and is now treasurer of Crosby Division.

Louise Gillespie Runner Up In the Entrepreneur Award

Louise Gillespie
In 2010 Louise Gillespie set up as a sole trader in a business specialising in selling costume jewellery.  At the outset her aim was to provide her 15 year old daughter (Jessica) with a part time job and income for the following two years when she would be studying for her “A” levels.   Louise started off with a vision of how she wanted Jessie’s Jewels to trade and was not put off by any real or perceived barriers, e.g. finance, risk, lack of experience and simply “going it alone”. 

Through networking and using social media sites Louise has been involved in supporting other local businesses and charities donating items from the Jessie’s Jewels collection.  For the last 25 years up until April 2012 she worked full time as a Practice Manager in a law firm, during the past 2 years the brand “Jessie’s Jewels – specialists in costume jewellery” has grown from selling via small events and small jewellery parties to having almost 30 concession cabinets in hairdressers, spas, photography studios and beauty salons, with numbers still growing.

Improving our members businesses through

Networking, Support, Coaching and Mentoring