showcasing local businesses, charities, news & events

House of Commons launch for sixth Ladies First Awards celebrating inspirational achievers

Forty-five members of Ladies First at The House of Commons. Photos by Karen Massey Photography.

A prestigious event at London’s House of Commons this week marked the launch of a national awards campaign to celebrate some the country’s most inspirational female achievers.

The sixth – and biggest – Ladies First Professional Development Awards, will highlight success stories as well as raise funds for The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund at its awards ceremony in the summer.

A host of new categories are among the 20 being contested this year, including Sustainable Business Leader, Trailblazer of the Year and Inclusivity Leadership Award.

The gongs also honour, among others, Start-up of the Year, Excellence In Technology and Innovation, Excellence In Health and Wellbeing, Charity/Community Champion, Campaign of the Year, Family Business of the Year, Business Resilience Award and Business Woman of the Year, as well as seeing the return of the popular men’s category, Man of the Year.

Guests at the launch event, on Tuesday, (Jan 23rd) heard from host and speaker Colleen Fletcher, Coventry’s first female MP for 36 years – and last year’s recipient of The Ladies First Lifetime Achievement Award.

Colleen served on Coventry City Council for 13 years from 1992 and as an MP for nine years. She is also Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Blood Cancer; Cancer; Homelessness; Mental Health; and Pancreatic Cancer, causes close to her heart.

Recently announcing her intention to step down from Westminster at the next general election, she said: “I think awards are very important. They make people feel valued and it’s important that as many people as possible hear these women’s stories.

Colleen Fletcher MP and one of The Ladies First Directors Tracey McAtamney.

“Whenever I give talks in schools, I tell children that you can’t be what you can’t see, and if lots of people see women achieving then they’re inspired to do it themselves. It gives them more confidence.”

But no one has inspired Colleen more than her late mother Dorothy Dalton, a political agent to George Park, the very first member of parliament for the new Coventry North East seat in 1974. Dorothy was also well known for her role as a JP in the city.

She said: “She would involve me by taking me to political meetings and patiently explaining how it all works and how people work. She was involved in politics back in the days when women typically just made the tea and arranged social occasions and ran the raffle and all of that sort of thing. She always believed that she could do better but didn’t have that much confidence in herself.

Karyn Jepson Cotcher, Cheryll Rawbone and Tessa Simpson.

“I worked in home care and it didn’t really occur to me to become a councillor myself but when she died in 1992 I was approached by her ward colleagues ahead of the October by-election. She would be proud of me now and amazed at just how much has changed for women in politics.

Ladies First Business Development Awards, House of Commons
Ruth Bridges, Jayne McIntosh, Gillian Bridges, Carmen Watson and Tracy Evans.

She added: “Politics isn’t a career, it’s a lifestyle. But nevertheless, it takes the same effort and the same challenges that everyone else has trying to get to the top of their game or even trying to survive through it.”

This year’s awards are also supporting The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund, funded in 2015 by former England cricketer Ashley Giles MBE and his wife Stine, who was diagnosed with three brain tumours over 12 years. The charity raises funds for research, pioneering equipment and support for patients.

Maxine Round, Connall Pugh, Tracey McAtamney, Siobhan Rowland and Gillian Bridges

Stine said: “These Awards are a fitting and fabulous platform to celebrate the achievements of women in our community. We’re so proud to be the chosen charity for the Ladies First Awards 2024 and look forward to working with the organisers and members over the next few months.”

The awards are sponsored by Janine Edwards Wealth Management in Berkswell and Midlands-based recruitment agency Pertemps and headed up by Ladies First’s Tracey McAtamney and her newly-appointed co-director, Karen Massey.

Ladies First Professional Development Awards, House of Commons
Karen Jones and Stine Giles of The Giles Trust Brain Tumour Fund.

Tracey has herself been recognised nationally for her work with the networking group as well as her charity The Surviving Bereavement Foundation, which provides practical and emotional support for those coping with loss.

Tracey said: “Every year we look forward to championing women who deserve recognition but who don’t go looking for the spotlight, so we want to shine it on them. This year’s awards are going to be the Ladies First’s biggest and brightest celebration of these women yet and we’re incredibly excited to be partnering with such amazing individuals such as Colleen and Stine, who set the tone perfectly at the launch day, along with the incredible setting of The House of Commons.”

Ladies First Professional Development Awards, House of Commons
Ladies First Directors Tracey McAtamney and Karen Massey

Siobhan Rowland, Consultant at Janine Edwards Wealth Management, said: “Awards align with our values and commitment to supporting women’s empowerment. We believe that women should have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive in their professional endeavors.”

Carmen Watson, Chair of Pertemps Network Group, said: “We believe in the power of diversity and are committed to championing women’s achievements in business. This sponsorship is a testament to our belief that empowering women strengthens not only businesses but society as a whole.”

Corrine Seabourne, Julie McGarrigle, Vicki Bravington, Colleen Fletcher MP, Matt Western MP and Kirsty Leahy. 

Finalists will be invited to an independent judging day at Mallory Court in Leamington on April 8th before the glittering awards night at IXL Dallas Burston Polo Club on June 13th.

Closing date for nominations is March 12th.  For further information about how to nominate, visit here

To enquire about sponsorship opportunities contact Tracey McAtamney at: