Not long left to enter awards celebrating female achievers

Not long left to enter awards celebrating female achievers

Awards organisers Tracey McAtamney and Sandra Godley

THERE are just a few weeks left for people in the West Midlands to enter awards dedicated to recognising inspirational women across the UK.

The fifth Ladies First Professional Development Awards, organised by Tracey McAtamney from Balsall Common, will celebrate success stories while also raising funds and awareness for two Midlands charities, The Memory Box Foundation and Coventry Foodbank.

New categories celebrating creatives will be among the 22 this year, including Outstanding Woman In Sport, Outstanding Woman In Creative Arts and The Sandra Godley Music Award.

They are all categories which are close to the heart of one of Coventry’s own best-known creatives, Sandra Godley.

The TV and radio presenter and MOBO-nominated musician, said: “Music, sport and creativity are all extensions of wellbeing and mental health and we’re reflecting that through these award categories.

“Our communities need more role models, especially for young people. The more people can see others ‘like them‘ receiving awards, the better our communities will be envisioned.

“I’m also encouraged to see many passionate women stepping out and nominating themselves. This is so good. There is just so much talent out there to celebrate. I’m incredibly proud to be raising a diverse platform for people to shine.

“We’re getting enquiries nationally and internationally too, including the USA. This is really exciting as it shows that people are noticing what we’re doing and want to be part of it. Bring on the awards!”

Ladies First Professional Development Awards,Tracey McAtamney, Sandra Godley
Last year’s winners at Coombe Abbey

The awards also honour, among others, New Business of the Year, Excellence In STEM, Unique Business, Family Business of the Year and Woman of Courage and see the return of the popular men’s category, Man of the Year.

Sandra Godley is also the other half of the Ladies First leadership team, alongside Tracey McAtamney.

Tracey was this year named a Jubilee Awards’ Platinum Champion for her work with her charity Surviving Bereavement. Her new Memory Box Foundation, being launched in January, provides free Memory Boxes for children and young adults coping with bereavement and supports pop-up Bereavement Cafes in Coventry, Kenilworth, Warwick, Balsall Common, Leamington Spa, Solihull and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Ahead of this year’s awards, she said: “We are already inspired by the quality of entries we’ve received so far. But please keep nominating those special women in your life, whether it is a family member, work colleague, friend or someone who has made a difference to your life or the lives of others. We want to hear their story. It is wonderful to be celebrating the successes of so many wonderful women of all ages and backgrounds.”

Finalists will be invited to an independent judging day at Metropolis in Coventry in January before the glittering awards night at Coombe Abbey Hotel on March 23rd.

Ladies First Professional Development Awards,Tracey McAtamney, Sandra Godley
The judging returns to Metropolis in Coventry this year

The event, which is being sponsored by Janine Edwards Wealth Management of Balsall Common, Pertemps and Alsters Kelley, will also be raising money for The Memory Box Foundation and Coventry Foodbank.

Coventry Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network of foodbanks. It was established in January 2011 and is one of the largest foodbanks in the UK, feeding thousands of individuals and families each year. It partners with a wide range of care professionals who identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher as well as signposting them to other organisations to help resolve the longer-term problems that may have led them there.

Closing date for entries is January 6th and finalists will be selected by an independent panel at a judging event on February 7th, ahead of an awards ceremony at Coombe Abbey in Coventry on March 24th.

For further information about how to nominate, visit here

To enquire about sponsorship opportunities contact Tracey McAtamney at: tracey@ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk

Nineteenth Century tale that still manages to feel fresh

Nineteenth Century tale that still manages to feel fresh

RSC, A Christmas Carol, Adrian Edmondson

It’s a story as old as time – Dickensian times that is.

There have been more than 250 stage and film adaptations of A Christmas Carol over the years. This year the perennial favourite returns again to the RSC following huge acclaim in 2017 and 2018.

Far from feeling tired, this reworked festive tale proves once again to be a beautifully packaged Christmas gift that keeps on giving, in no small part due to its new leading man.

While making this incarnation of the role his own, Adrian Edmondson effortlessly captures the miserly malevolence of Ebeneezer Scrooge as he takes a captive and scintillated audience on his own, now well-trodden, journey of redemption.

He’s forgiven (and even thanked) for those rye comedic nods to his Young Ones alter ego Vyvyan which many will better know him for. (Or is that just me?)

RSC, A Christmas Carol, Adrian Edmondson

Rebecca Lacey, pictured above, and Sunetra Sarker excel as The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present – but nothing quite prepares you for the chilling appearance of the fourth Ghost that prompts gasps around the theatre.

A young Charles Dickens himself becomes part of the story here, cleverly weaving his narrative into the scenes by voicing lines or becoming different characters or even props.

One can’t help but be struck by the contemporary resonance of the play and its palpable themes of class divide but David Edgar’s faithful adaptation manages to keep this familiar 19th-century tale as fresh as possible on an RSC stage that makes you feel like you’re part of the story – a story that Dickens pledged to ‘echo through time’ and is, sadly, as chillingly pertinent as ever.

RSC, A Christmas Carol, Adrian Edmondson

A shout out to a talented ensemble cast as well as the staging and tech crew who have surpassed themselves with mind-boggling and breath-taking effects and illusions which serve to further elevate this already exceptional production.

Director Rachel Kavanaugh keeps the story moving at a pace and adds a cheery sprinkling of song and dance that contributes to the festive feel of the piece and this iconic Christmas favourite, while not straying from the original text, feels sufficiently fresh and new. Catch it if you can.

A Christmas Carol runs at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford until January 1st. Further information and ticket enquiries are available here

Farmers and fundraisers gearing up to blaze a light trail

Farmers and fundraisers gearing up to blaze a light trail

Tractor Run, Molly Ollys, Warwickshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs

A Christmas convoy of tractors will soon be blazing a bright trail through south Warwickshire in aid of two local charities.

More than 40 tractors and farm vehicles festooned in festive lights will parade through towns and villages on December 13th to raise money for The Warwickshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and Warwick children’s charity Molly Ollys.

The Tractor Run will start at 5.30pm from Berkswell & Balsall Rugby Club, taking in Burton Green, Kenilworth, Leek Wootton, Warwick, Leamington and Cubbington and ending at Stoneleigh.

Proceeds will come from tractor drivers and passengers paying to join the Run as well as spectator collections en route.

One of the event organisers Issy Mason from The Warwickshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, said: “Fundraising this way is really what Young Farmers is about! Firstly, we like driving tractors! Combine it with some flashing lights – and I mean lots of flashing lights – music and some elves, and we have a fun fundraising idea.

“It is a great way to bring the general public and young farmers together – a real community spirit. It also gives the opportunity for our own Warwickshire Young Farmer members to participate and take pride in decorating their tractor. We will be offering prizes for the best dressed tractor – so many will take it very seriously! The lights make it a magnificent display of Christmas Magic.

“I think this event will have a permanent place in the Young Farmers Calendar in the future!”

She added: “Molly Ollys is a charity personally very close to my heart after losing my brother to a very rare form of cancer in 2011.”

Warwick-based Molly Ollys was established following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and marks its tenth anniversary this year.

The charity supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It helps with emotional support and donates wishes, therapeutic toys and books to children directly and through hospitals across the UK.

Since Molly Ollys started more than £3 million has been raised to emotionally support children across the UK. Anyone wishing to donate can do so here

Quote from Rachel if you want it! “It never ceases to amaze me how creative our supporters get with their fundraising ideas…this is one of the quirkiest and we’re very grateful to the Warwickshire Young Farmers Club for doing this to fundraise for us. Your money will make a real difference to the families we support.”

Warwickshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs is a rural youth charity with over 400 members across ten clubs. It provides industry training, mental health support, social activities and more to young people in rural Warwickshire.

To donate to the Tractor Run visit here

Further details and registration are available here