Bereavement volunteer named as ‘Platinum Champion’

Bereavement volunteer named as ‘Platinum Champion’

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

A charity founder who runs monthly bereavement cafes in Leamington and Kenilworth, has been named as a Platinum Champion as part of a national Jubilee awards celebrating dedication to volunteering.

Tracey McAtamney was recognised for her work as the founder of Surviving Bereavement foundation, which she established in memory of her late husband Tony.

The former Coventry Carnival Queen, from Balsall Common, was left widowed with two sons at just 38, when Tony suddenly collapsed and died in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday.

It was some 15 years later, in 2019, that this tragic event was to inspire a series of new ventures aimed at helping others overcome loss, and a foundation called Surviving Bereavement was born. It offers legal and financial advice as well as practical help.

This support also takes the form of a new series of bereavement cafes at venues across the county including Leamington, Kenilworth, Balsall Common and Berkswell.

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

The charity also provides bespoke Memory Boxes – hand-delivered by Tracey – which are available for grieving children and young adults, and typically contain items such as forget-me-not seeds, a personalised book and letter, journal, cuddle bears and other age-relevant items.

Such is the demand for the boxes, Tracey, 56, is soon to scale up the service by launching a community interest business, working with hospitals and hospices throughout the country.

“I thought memory boxes were really important to offer some comfort, but when I looked into it there was nowhere that actually gave them away for free, so I thought I would set it up myself,” said Tracey.

“I do cherish the importance of memories. You can lose people but you can’t lose memories. They are always there and we should treasure them as much as we can.”

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award
Tracey pictured with her late husband Tony

In 2019 she also published her own book, Hidden Strength and has since gone on to qualify as a trained grief counsellor.

The Platinum Champion Awards are a Jubilee project launched by The Royal Voluntary Service in honour of The Queen’s 70-year reign and celebrate ‘extradordinary volunteers who go that extra mile to improve the lives of others.’ The 490 winners received a specially designed pin and certificate.

Reacting to the award, which she received this week, Tracey said: “I am honoured and delighted to be recognised in this way. I am passionate about supporting those coping with the pain and isolation of loss. Our cafes provide a safe place for people to talk and I hope our Memory Boxes bring some comfort to children and young adults.

“I would like to thank my sponsors, Alsters Kelley Solicitors, Jamieson Christie Wealth Management, John Pigott, Kenilworth Lions and the many other people who have made donations to make this happen.”

Now settled with a new partner of 12 years – and spending as much time as she can keeping up with her sons, now aged 34 and 25, three step-children and four step-grandchildren, Tracey knows Tony’s memory is never far away.

Tracey added: “Since Tony’s death, I have had to rely on that inner strength to get me and the boys through situations that have seemed impossible. Death has not defined us as a family, however it has truly shaped us as people.

“My motto – there is always a light at the end of a tunnel and always an answer to that impossible situation – and that’s what Surviving Bereavement is here to help with too.”

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

Visit Surviving Bereavement here

For further information or to enquire about donating, contact Tracey McAtamney at: tracey@survivingbereavement.com

Finalists announced for return of live business awards

Finalists announced for return of live business awards

INSPIRATIONAL achievers across Warwickshire are among the finalists named in the fourth Ladies First Network Business Awards, being held next month.

Entrants from 25 categories have been selected from more than 270 nominations by a panel of 18 judges from across the UK at a special event in Coventry on Monday.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony, hosted by BBC radio presenter Sandra Godley, on March 24th at Coombe Abbey.

The awards, which returns to a live event following the pandemic, will also raise money for two West Midlands charities, St Basils and Suited For Success.

St Basils works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to enable them to find and keep a home, grow their confidence, develop their skills and increase opportunities.

Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
Judging takes place. Photos by Dy Holme at Spaces and Faces Photography

Established in Birmingham, the charity now has 42 accommodation projects across the West Midlands, including Leamington, Coventry, Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Kidderminster.

Further information about St Basils can be found here

Established in 2016, award-winning charity Suited For Success helps unemployed men and women in Warwickshire and the West Midlands prepare for a job interview by providing free coaching, employment preparation skills and interview clothing.

Further information about Suited For Success can be found here

The new categories introduced this year are: Excellence in Health & Wellbeing, Digital Star, Man of the Year, Employer of the Year, Excellence in Education, Achieves in Marketing, Family Business, Service Provider of the Year and International Award – attracting entries from as far afield as Australia and South Africa.

Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
Judges Amanda Chalmers of Chalmers News PR and Cheryll Rawbone of Gallagher.

Young people are also in sharper focus at this year’s awards which champion Young Entrepreneur and Inspirational Young Achiever.

Awards organiser and Ladies First Network Leader, Tracey McAtamney from Balsall Common, said: “Interview Day was a fabulous occasion. It never ceases to amaze me just how many talented and inspirational people I get to meet – this year starting at just 10 years old, our youngest ever nomination. Also, some remarkable women in business and inspirational lives, some incredible family businesses including a third generation business, husband and wife teams, an over 50’s all-female punk band and not forgetting a micro pigs business! – So many achievements to celebrate.”

For further information about the awards visit here

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

The finalists:

Digital Star
Emily Cordwell – Online Toolbox, New Zealand
Sandy Hearn – Elite PA Solutions, Rugby
Amy Hobson – Focus your Future UK, Solihull
Sharon Louca – Women’s Business Networking Ltd, Tamworth
Jacqueline Leake – V A Services Nuneaton

Achieves for the Community
Louise Gilliard-Owen & Kate Porreta – The Horse and People Project, Coventry
Sharon Brooks – Headway Brain Injury Charity, Coventry
Fay Goodman – Goodmedia, Birmingham
Anita Dalton – Kenilworth
Christine Eade & Sarah Laughton – The POD Café, Coventry

Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
Louise Bates of Heathcote Holistics and Taran Natt of Mum’s Bistro.

Excellence in Education
Catherine Cossey – The Piano School, Coventry
Benita Belgrove – Bluecoat School, Coventry
Marie Crowder Shona Wallace Megan Lee – Nicola Smyth Academy, Leamington/Warwick/Kenilworth
Amandine Stone – Tutor in a Box, Leamington
Suneta Bagri – Teach well, Toolkit, Coventry

Ladies Network Awards, Tracey McAtamney
Woman of Courage finalist Rachel Ollerenshaw of Molly Ollys.

Man of the Year
John Coote – Coventry Comfort Carers Homeless Outreach Project, Coventry
Michael Mogan – Mogan and Mogan, Coventry
Dan Smyth Humphriss – Nicola Smyth, Leamington
Mark Elson – Pipistrelle Art, Exhall
Trevor Parkinson – Millie’s Paws Hydrotherapy Centre and Studio, Coventry

Achieves in Business (Employee)
Leanne Horne – Air Aesthetics Clinic, Henley-in Arden
Sarah Millington – Unique Venues, Birmingham
Carey Munn – Pertemps Network Group, Meriden
Kathy Halstead Smyth – Nicola Smyth
Corrine Seaborne – Alsters Kelley, Coventry

Achieves Through Networking
Amy Hobson – Connexions, Solihull
Sarah Millington – Unique Venues, Birmingham
Sharon Louca – Women’s Business Networking Limited, Tamworth
Yvonne McCabe – Minute Man Press, Hall Green
Amanda Bourne – Findabiz, Nuneaton

Advocate for Women
Andrea de Gabriel Robertson – Andrea de Gabriel Portrait Photography, Nuneaton
The Verinos – All Female Band, Leicester
Sarah Gray – Sarah Gray Styling, Leamington
Charlie Smith – Jennie Bear Blue, Balsall Common

Achieves for Charity
Jessica Weeks – Hannah’s House, Coventry
Emma Hallam – Alex’s Wish, Loughborough
Louise Hepburn – The Centaurus Trust, Wootton Wawen
Georgina Mosely – Help Harry, Help Others Charity, Birmingham

Service Provider of the Year
Lisa Whittleton – Illuminate VR, Kenilworth
Jayne Chambers – Haigs Hotel & McKees Restaurant, Balsall Common
Amy O’Keeffe – CTT Accounting Leamington
Abigail Farnham – Pertemps Network Group
Geraldine Davies – Senior Care Support, Solihull

Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
The Earl and Countess of Yarmouth William and Kelsey Seymour are finalists in two categories for their business, St Maur in Alcester.

Excellence in Health & Wellbeing
Julie Dalton – Elite Health & Wellness, Coventry
Asha Bezron – Inspired to Change, Balsall Common
Lorraine Checklin – Flourish Health and Wellbeing, Meriden
Julia Mitchell – Healthy Steps, Shrewley
Dr Verity Biggs – NHS GP Coventry, Balsall Common
Julie Garner – CBD Skindeep, Kenilworth

Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
Ladies Network Awards organisers Natasha Blacklock and Tracey McAtamney.

Woman of Achievement
Angela Gordon – I Love Inspiring Ltd, Rugby
Robyn Allen – Robyn Allen Solutions, Rothwell
Suzanne Reid Barreiro de Silva – Unique Venues, Birmingham
Samm Bain – Meriden Media
Fay Goodman – Goodmedia, Birmingham

STEM Award
Alexandra Knight – Stemazing, Morpeth
Ewa Truchanowicz – Dignio, Birmingham
Helen Routledge – Totem Learning, Coventry
Andrea Lowe – Accountable Solutions, Rugby
Ellen Badat – Purple Tree Solutions, Gloucester

Inspirational Woman
Siwan Smith – Anchored In, Liverpool
Sonia Parnell – Liberty House Care Homes, Birmingham
Suneta Bagri – Teach well, ToolKit, Coventry
Fay Goodman – Goodmedia, Birmingham
Natalie Heeley-Shields – Forever Living, Mollington

Business Entrepreneur
Amy Davies – Madame Caci Lounge & Store & Stove, Balsall Common
Leanne Armstrong – Black Ivy Design, Coventry
Olivia Mikail – Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Donna Vaughan – Millies Paws Hydrotherapy Centre and Grooming Studio, Coventry
Taruna Chauhan – T Chauhan Consultancy Ltd. Coventry

Business Entrepreneur (Under 30)
Rebecca Cooke – George’s Swim Academy & Claudies Club, Solihull
Hannah Williams – Scribble Inc. Shropshire
Anisa Morridadi – Beatfreeks, Birmingham
Ananya Prajapati – artist, Coventry
Lauren Coombes – Pitch and Party Limited, Balsall Common

Businesswoman of The Year
Olivia Mikhail – Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Michelle Kirkham – International Automotive Components Group (IAC Group), Coventry
Leanne Armstrong Peapell – Black Ivy Design, Coventry
Bal Heer- Regional Homes, Birmingham

Family Business of the Year
Kate Hunter – Bear Cleaning, Kenilworth
Ruth & Gillian Bridges – J Roberts SPV Ltd, Sutton Coldfield
Jayne Chambers – Haigs Hotel & McKees Restaurant, Balsall Common
Yvonne McCabe – Minute Man Press, Hall Green
Jo Watson – Halo Hair and Beauty, Balsall Common

Couple of the Year
Claudia & Richard Bramble – Bramble Dining, Leamington Spa
Charlotte & Jolyon Olivier – Napton Cidery, Napton-on-the-Hill
Gina & Ian Reinge -The Reinge Clinic, Kenilworth
Kelsey & William Seymour – St Maur, Alcester
Nichola & John Kelsey – Welcombe Hills Vineyard, Stratford-upon-Avon

Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
Judges on a Zoom Call with a finalist.
Ladies First Network Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney
Charlotte Olivier from Napton Cidery is a finalist in the Business Couples category.

Unique Business
Lauren Coombes – Pitch and Party Limited, Balsall Common
Olivia Mikhail – Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Jessica Moorley – Bread for Life, Leamington Spa
Phaedra Elson – Pipistrelle Art, Exhall
Debbie Lynn – Violinist, Coventry

New Business of the Year
Nikki Watson – Solihull Baby Massage
Helen Bradley – Quirky Little Bird, Coventry
Claudia & Richard Bramble – Bramble Dining, Leamington Spa
William & Kelsey Seymour – St Maur, Alcester
Helen Pritchett – The Soap Sisters, Birmingham

Successful Career from Home
Taran Natt – Mum’s Bistro, Meriden
Maxine Round – Pure Nails & Beauty, Balsall Common
Colette Jacobs – Hounds ‘n’ Harmony, Coventry
Lindsay Gillespie – Pawsome Pooches, Balsall Common
Isabel Lawson – Isabel’s Flowers, Balsall Common

Marketing Award
Colette Bratton – Small Business Equaliser, Lichfield
Felicity Newsome – Sheldon Bosley Knight, Stratford-upon-Avon
Vicki Bravington – Shakespeare Media, Stratford-upon-Avon
Katie Wilber – Cotswold Connected, Stratford-upon-Avon
Louise Wood & Natalie Corcoran – Lime Communications, Leamington Spa

Venue Award
Coombe Abbey
Binswood Hall
Telegraph Hotel
Wroxall Abbey

Woman of Courage
Veronica Kumeta – Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer, Birmingham
Rachel Ollerenshaw – Molly Ollys, Warwick
Andrea Rainsford – SEO Angel, Tamworth
Louise Bates – Heathcote Holistics, Leamington Spa
Sharon Luca Chatha – The Luca Foundation, Coventry

Ladies First Network Awards
The judging took place on Monday at The Metropolis in Coventry.

International Award
Innocentia Mahlangu – SHEngineers, South Africa
May Zaki – Rashaqa by May, Australia
Emily Coldwell – Online Toolbox, New Zealand

Inspirational Young Achiever
Twins Stacey & Tracey William from Coventry
Twins Alice & Hattie Mogan from Coventry

Local entries invited for new-look post-pandemic awards

Local entries invited for new-look post-pandemic awards

WARWICKSHIRE businesses are being invited to enter a new-look awards dedicated to recognising growth and resilience throughout the pandemic.

The fourth Ladies First Professional Development Awards will celebrate success stories while also raising funds and awareness for two Midlands charities, St Basils and Suited For Success.

Nominations are open in 26 categories, including a host of new categories including Man of the Year, Excellence In Education and Best Family Business.

Ladies First Professional Development Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
Tracey McAtamney.

Established in 2016, award-winning charity Suited For Success helps unemployed men and women in Warwickshire and the West Midlands prepare for a job interview by providing free coaching, employment preparation skills and interview clothing.

Chief Executive Patricia White said: “After more than a year of not being able to fundraise due to the face-to-face nature of the work, we’re especially grateful to Ladies First for throwing us this lifeline.

“The pandemic has left a huge negative impact on people’s self-esteem and mental health and we have seen a big increase in people needing our support, from interview coaching and dressing for job interviews to helping people feel confident again, once they’ve got a job, to go back into the workplace.

“This year and next year we’ll still be seeing the after-effects so the continuous work we are doing as a charity to get people back into employment is going to be more important than ever.

“Because it’s been 18 months or more since they’ve been working, a lot of people are now classed as long term unemployed and the longer you’re out of work, the less confident you are about re-entering the workforce. There’s a feeling of hopelessness for many people at the moment who have crossed that barrier from being unemployed to feeling they’re unemployable. And the economy is still very unstable.”

Further information about Suited For Success can be found here

St Basils works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to enable them to find and keep a home, grow their confidence, develop their skills and increase opportunities.

Established in Birmingham, the charity now has 42 accommodation projects across the West Midlands, including Leamington, Coventry, Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Kidderminster.

Barrie Hodge, spokesperson for St Basils said: “We are so delighted to be working with Ladies First. Homelessness is an issue that is seen by many as something that mainly impacts men, but 53% of the young people we support are women and there is an increasing amount of women in temporary accommodation with their children.

Ladies First Professional Development, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
St Basils also offer employability coaches which run a five-week programme called ‘I Can.’

“More than 120,000 young people presented as homeless in the UK last year. This support is vital to us so that we can continue to provide them with the care they need during a critical time in their lives.”

Further information about St Basils can be found here

Awards organiser and Ladies First Network Leader, Tracey McAtamney from Balsall Common, said they were fitting charities to support in light of the recent challenges.

“There are a lot of awards around and for me it’s about supporting charitable causes that are relevant. This year these charities seem a good fit because they align very well with our professional development and encouraging people back to work and there have been so many younger people negatively impacted by Covid.”

She added: “While we’re celebrating our own success we can be mindful that there are a lot of people out there who do need our help and we can do that by not just raising funds but by raising their profiles.”

Ladies First Professional Development, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
The organisers are welcoming a return to face to face awards ceremonies.

The new categories introduced this year are: Excellence in Health & Wellbeing, Digital Star, Man of the Year, Employer of the Year, Excellence in Education, Achieves in Marketing, Family Business and Service Provider of the Year.

Young people will also be in sharper focus at this year’s awards which champion Young Person in STEM, Young Entrepreneur, Rising Star in Education and Inspirational Young Achiever.

Tracey, who also runs the Surviving Bereavement charity, said: “It’s not just about women in business, it’s about recognising all inspirational people in our communities.

“Over the past 18 months, some businesses have survived but others have actually thrived and developed. Obviously there were a lot of businesses which were lost but many of those have reinvented themselves into something else which is also inspiring.

“It’s so important to be together again after hosting it online last year. This year’s awards will be real night to remember and I promise everyone will come away at the end of the night feeling like they’re a winner.”

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. Closing date for entries is Monday, January 3rd.

Ladies First Professional Development, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
Patricia White – Photo by hank&margotuk2

For further information about how to nominate, visit here

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

Charity song set to raise funds and awareness of loss

Charity song set to raise funds and awareness of loss

My Darling, Sandra Godley, Tracey McAtamney, Molly Olly's Wishes, Surviving Bereavement, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind

AN award-winning singer songwriter has released a new single close to her heart to raise funds and awareness for three charities in Coventry and Warwickshire.

My Darling is the exclusive new track written and recorded by MOBO-nominated musician Sandra Godley in aid of Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly’s Wishes and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.

In collaboration with Surviving Bereavement Founder Tracey McAtamney, the project draws much-needed focus on the increasing mental health problems post-pandemic.

It is a particularly poignant piece or work for the Coventry musician and local BBC radio host, Sandra, who is still grieving the loss of her own aunt to Covid-19 in April last year.

She said: “This track is based on conversations that I’d had with people like Tracey and others who survived having lost people and having had a year out to think about that.

“Because I work in broadcasting people are telling me their stories of loss and grief and anguish all the time. I got to the point where I thought, what do I do with all this? This is a real situation and I need to help as many people as I can.

“I wrote the lyrics for this hoping it would offer some kind of comfort and a way of journeying these next few months and years. What I’ve found is that a lot of people haven’t been able to talk about it because they haven’t been able to physically go and see someone in the family during the grieving process.”

With four successful albums and a clutch of awards to her name, Sandra’s proudest musical career highlights include singing in The House of Commons as well as creating and performing The Big Love Song as a wedding gift for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, joined by a choir of mental health ambassadors on BBC’s The One Show, in 2018.

My Darling, Sandra Godley, Tracey McAtamney, Molly Olly's Wishes, Surviving Bereavement, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind
Sandra Godley in the recording studio as Tracey McAtamney looks on. Photo by Dy Holme

My Darling marks a departure from Sandra’s usual soul and gospel style, instead following more contemporary musical influences to appeal to a wider audience impacted by Covid or otherwise-related loss.

“I wanted this to be more modern in terms of the Billie Eilish, James Arthur and George Ezra-type sound. I was actually influenced by a lot young artists for this song when I usually tend to look backwards in time for a lot of my music. Most young people won’t have previously experienced the kind of trauma of the last 18 months and I thought these artists were writing some really inspirational stuff for this ‘now’ moment,” she said.

Through the work of The Surviving Bereavement Foundation, Tracey McAtamney has helped many others through their journey with grief by offering legal and financial advice as well as practical and emotional support.

My Darling, Sandra Godley, Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly's Wishes, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind
Sandra Godley and producer Matt Cossey in the recording studio. Photo by Dy Holme

Tracey, from Balsall Common, established the Foundation 16 years after herself being widowed with two sons at the age of just 38. Her husband Tony had died suddenly in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday in Spain.

As part of the Foundation’s growth, she also recently qualified as a Grief Recovery Specialist, using an actioned evidenced-based programme for moving beyond death, divorce and other losses including health and career.

The past year has also seen a huge rise in demand for her personalised Memory Boxes, which contain specially chosen items that celebrate the life of a lost loved one.

She said: “During lockdown I delivered or posted 136 free Memory Boxes or Bags to children and young adults. I realised with us coming out of the pandemic we needed a way to reach more people. Music is that way – Sandra’s song is one of hope for all of those people grieving due to the loss of loved ones, many of which were unable to say goodbye.

“I am so grateful to Sandra for putting the words on paper and then adding her voice – it is beautiful. The track could have been written for me when my husband died and I was unable to say goodbye 16 years ago!”

There has been an increase in demand for memory boxes from the Surviving Bereavement Charity run by Tracey McAtamney.

“I am hoping that the song will provide hope for many and that by downloading it, will ensure that more children and young adults will continue to receive free Memory Boxes.”

The single, which has been produced by Matt Cossey of The Nexus Institute of Creative Arts in Coventry, is being funded by an anonymous sponsor and supported by Alsters Kelley solicitors and Coventry’s The Telegraph Hotel – the host of an official launch event on National Grief Awareness Day, on August 30th.

Some of the proceeds will also benefit Warwick-based charity Molly Olly’s Wishes and local mental health charity Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw
Rachel Ollerenshaw, the Founder of Molly Olly’s Wishes with mascot Olly The Brave. The charity was established in her daughter’s name.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “The death of someone close to us is hard at any time but the restrictions and effects of the pandemic have made the grieving process all the more difficult.

“Raising awareness of the struggle and the enormity of loss and how it affects us all differently and providing support through these challenging times is so important.

“Molly Olly’s Wishes work with families who sadly have a child at end of life and help them to create memories and support their emotional wellbeing and we are extremely grateful to Sandra. It is a beautiful song and we hope it helps highlight the awareness of loss and the work of charities.”

Local mental health charity, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind is part of the national Mind organisation – delivering services and support for people with mental health problems for over 50 years.

Recognising the importance of listening to, and working with, people who have experienced mental health issues, the charity aims to provide support for those who live with and recover from a mental health problem. This can mean providing access to information, a listening ear, or providing more specialist support and services.

Steven Hill, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind CEO said: “During the lockdown we were all forced into periods of extended isolation – this was difficult enough for those of us with close family networks but for those of us living alone, this increased the sense of anxiety, of isolation, and of hopelessness.

“The impact of this isolation, added to the trauma of loss and bereavement experienced across Coventry and Warwickshire, has exaggerated mental health issues for many, leaving them desperate for support at a time of mental health crisis.”

My Darling is available now to download for 79p from any of the following outlets

 

Book and awards celebrate inspirational women in business

Book and awards celebrate inspirational women in business

SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs from south Warwickshire are among the women whose inspirational stories form a new book set to raise funds for a national charity close to their hearts.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, which launched today (Monday March 1st), celebrates female achievers from across the country, many with tales of overcoming adversity and even tragedy.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, Ladies First Network, Tracey McAtamney, Katie Piper Foundation, book, awards, entrepreneurs

Compiled over nine months by Tracey McAtamney, from Balsall Common, the book features the 58 finalists in the 2020 Ladies First Network Awards which takes place this month in aid of The Katie Piper Foundation.

Among those who contributed are Nicola Smyth from Southam; Kate Findlay from Barford and Julie McGarrigle and Minnie Von Mallinckrodt-Grant, both from Leamington and Rachel Willmott, Sarah McCormack and Karen Heap, from Rugby.

At just 36, and with a hairdressing career already spanning 20 years, Nicola Smyth owns salons in Warwick, Kenilworth, Southam and Knowle and is a multi-award-winning international colourist. She also runs a Midlands training academy and mentors with her brand across the world.

Kate Findlay, Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, Ladies First Network, Tracey McAtamney, Katie Piper Foundation, book, awards, entrepreneurs

Kate Findlay, above, from Barford, has seen her online boutique gift shop Peach Perfect go on to great success after launching the business in her early sixties and whilst also nursing her late husband through the latter years of dementia.

Julie McGarrigle is a director at Alsters Kelley Solicitors, which has offices in Southam, Leamington, Stratford, Coventry and Nuneaton. She is proud to be one of only a handful of female non-lawyer director/owners of a law firm.

The practice has supported a number of local charities, including: Zoe’s Place Hospice in Coventry, Coventry Cyrenians, Safeline, STARS and Save the Children, and it also takes part in a number of the Free Wills initiatives for charities, such as Myton Hospices, Mary Ann Evans Hospice and Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Although a microbiology graduate, Minnie Von Mallinckrodt-Grant today offers marketing and communications expertise and is a TEDx curator and coach.

Rachel Willmott, left, grew a successful and award-winning Virtual Assistant business she started from home whilst on maternity leave in 2013.

The parent of a child with Down syndrome, she is also an active member of The Ups of Downs charity based in Leamington, supporting it with administration, training, events and mentoring new parents.

Despite starting out as a financial analyst, Sarah McCormack decided to follow her new dream of becoming a qualified florist leading to the launch of Stemsations in Frankton. Year-on-year sales increased and the business expanded to offer a full floristry service for weddings, celebration bouquets, funeral tributes and seasonal workshops.

Her achievements have been recognised in industry awards as well as featured in glossy magazines.

Karen Heap, Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, Ladies First Network, Tracey McAtamney, Katie Piper Foundation, book, awards, entrepreneurs

Karen Heap, right, runs Orchard Business Development and established Socially Shared when she was unable to find the type of support network she needed as a micro-business owner. The network, which is now active in Rugby, Stratford, Coventry, Alcester and Solihull, also hosts an annual Women in Business conference, which includes inspirational and motivational speakers.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives follows on from the success of Tracey’s first book Hidden Strength in 2019, which tells her own story of resilience, after being widowed at a young age.

Proceeds from this book go back into her charity Surviving Bereavement, which offers practical, financial, legal and emotional support in the form of seminars and new Memory Boxes, launched last year.

The finalists to the third LFN Business Awards were chosen from more than 200 nominations, and the winners will this year, for the first time, receive their engraved glass awards virtually, due to COVID restrictions.

An esteemed panel of 12 judges from across the UK, includes the awards keynote speaker, global successs coach and author Sharron Lowe, from Tanworth-in-Arden.

Organiser Tracey said: “The judging event at The Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington last February was such an uplifting day. People had travelled from all over the country. But we didn’t know what was about to hit us.

“Having moved the event three times I didn’t want to move it again. For a while I couldn’t see it happening. But we decided to put it online. I realised that this year things were going to have to change.

“I didn’t want these ladies to miss out on their year and their recognition after such an awful year. That was why I decided to start the book. I wanted to keep the excitement alive as well as find an alternative way of raising the funds for our nominated charity.”

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives costs £12.99 and is available from Amazon (also on Kindle) or through Tracey at: tracey@ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk with all the proceeds benefitting The Katie Piper Foundation.

Tracey added: “Compiling this book has been both very humbling and uplifting. I thought it was important to get it out there. At the moment there are more women than ever who need support and inspiration.

“It’s also based on a year on hold. It’s about what happened to these people over the past year and what impact the pandemic has had on their lives – positive and negative. It looks at how so many women have had to reinvent themselves on the kitchen table. It’s all about celebrating being positive.

“I hope that what people take away from this book is a belief in themselves, that they will see that, no matter how bad things become in your life, you can come out of it the other side.”

Hosted by BBC radio presenter Sandra Godley, the awards ceremony, on March 18th, will also feature a message from Katie Piper. The author and TV presenter founded her charity in 2008 while in the early stages of her recovery from an acid attack which left her with permanent scars on her face and body and blindness in one eye.

Katie said: “I’m so honoured that my charity has been chosen to benefit from the awards, auction and book inspired by these incredible women. Their stories of determination through the pandemic and resilience are to be celebrated.

“The switch from ‘in real life’ awards to a digital ceremony mirrors how we adapted from delivering in-person care to video-call- based rehabilitation with outstanding results for survivors. As women, we are no one thing, we evolve, change and grow and the positive impact is felt far and wide.”

Tracey McAtamney added: “When I was deciding on which charity should benefit from our event this year, I thought, who is one of the most inspirational and courageous women I know? Katie Piper represents someone who has been through awful challenges and within a month of her recovery set up her own charity to try and help others. It sat well with what we are trying to achieve with the book and the awards.”

Proceeds from an online silent auction will also be donated to the Foundation. More than 20 lots, available to bid on from today, (Monday) include an Amplify Events VIP package to see Strictly Come Dancing Live worth £400; a private dining meal for two courtesy of Bramble Dining; a diamond ring, speech coaching workshop, Napton Cidery Discovery Bundle; pet portrait and beauty vouchers. Bids can be made via: www.jumblebee.co.uk/Charityauction2021

Tickets to the awards night are £15 and available at www.ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk via Eventbrite.

Visit Surviving Bereavement at: https://survivingbereavement.com/

For further information or to enquire about donating, contact Tracey McAtamney at: tracey@survivingbereavement.com