Remarkable Women on their hopes for the future and their inspirations

Posted by for Life

Our Remarkable Women Award winners and presenters share their hopes for the year ahead and more.

On 5 March we celebrated our inaugural Remarkable Women Awards, in partnership with philosophy, at the Rosewood London. We wanted our first awards to pay tribute to the women who are using their voice and platform to help other women. Who dedicate their lives to supporting others and are incredible role models. Here, our winners and their award presenters reveal the remarkable women in their lives, the moments that make them proud and their hopes for women in 2019.

Annie Lennox, Icon Award winner

Annie Lennox

The singer-songwriter, political activist and philanthropist has used her status and platform to establish the Sing campaign, which supports women and children with HIV, and The Circle, which advocates for women and girls across the world.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“Malala Yousafzai is a very obvious choice, because of everything she’s gone through in a personal sense to speaking out in a country where she was almost killed. It’s unthinkable. I just want to watch her life’s trajectory as she grows and influences young women and men of her generation. I think she’s a remarkable world leader.”

Keeley Hawes, actor

Keeley Hawes

Hawes presented Annie Lennox with her award.

What are you most proud of?

“I’ve only just had my proud moment really. I’m 43, I’ve been working quite consistently in this business since I was nine and I felt quite apologetic for that for a while. So I had a little word with myself and realised I should celebrate my success and be proud of it rather than apologise for it.”

Jodie Comer, Entertainer of the Year

Jodie Comer

Unapologetic, unsentimental, obsessive, a survivor, badass – she should be the new Bond, but that’s just her character in Killing Eve. In real life, the Stylist cover star is one of the UK’s most exciting actors and has a glittering career ahead.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“Phoebe Waller-Bridge – for everything that she has achieved and empowering women through her writing. It is a huge honour to receive this award and to be included with such inspiring women, one of which is my good friend Katarina Johnson-Thompson! I’m so happy we’re all gathered here to celebrate each other’s successes. I’m going to celebrate with six bowls of chips and five bottles of champagne. Plus YouTube karaoke with my fellow Remarkable Woman Katarina.”

Fiona Shaw, actor

Jodie Comer with Fiona Shaw

Shaw presented Jodie Comer with her award.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“Jodie Comer, who I presented the award to tonight. Her star is only on the up. She is part of the new generation of Hollywood A-listers and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Georgina Campbell with Tobi Kyeremateng

Tobi Kyeremateng, Inspiration of the Year

Winner of our reader-voted award, the producer and founder of the Black Ticket Project, an initiative that provides young black people with free tickets to theatre shows, is on a mission to ensure BAME voices are heard, and stories are told, by exposing a new generation to forms of expression that they may not have had access to.

What are you most proud of?

“I’ve always followed my gut and not made decisions based on what is expected of me. I didn’t go to university, so I started working at the theatre with young people and community groups and everything went from there. Sticking to my gut and saying I don’t know what I’m doing but I do know what I don’t want to do has opened up the right path for me.”

Georgina Campbell, Bafta-winning actor

Campbell presented Tobi Kyeremateng with her award.

How will you be supporting women in 2019?

“I work for a charity called stem4 (stem4.org.uk) which supports mental health in teenagers and I’d love to follow that avenue more – working out how to get them the help they need. When you’re young it’s so difficult to articulate how you’re feeling and lots of doctors and counsellors are quite dismissive if you can’t come out and say what’s going on. So that’s something I’m really passionate about and would love to work on in 2019.”

Briony Gordon, The Hope & Grace Award for Mental Health Advocate

Briony Gordon

Bryony has encouraged thousands of women – and men – to talk about their mental health by taking part in Mental Health Mates Walks. Without doubt, her work has saved lives.

What is your greatest hope for women in 2019?

“I’d love to see women liking themselves and treating themselves with respect; to not feel like it’s the norm to hate ourselves or that loving yourself is a bad thing. I’d love more events like this where women are celebrated for their achievements rather than for how they look, how appealing they are to the male gaze.”

Maya Jama, TV and radio presenter

Maya Jama

Jama presented Bryony Gordon with her award.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“Maya Angelou is the perfect example of an icon to me, a completely remarkable woman. She didn’t give up on what she believed in. She’s an inspirational dream. Women keep inspiring and keep growing and proving people wrong. We keep showing we’re superhuman. I hope there are more women in important positions in the future, so our children can look up to absolute icons.”

Edith Bowman with Poorna Bell

Poorna Bell, The Rising Star Award winner

The author of Chase the Rainbow and In Search of Silence (out may 2019) has a vital mission to help men’s mental health. Her work uniting men and women to tackle male depression and suicide together makes her truly remarkable.

What are you most proud of?

“The moment I’m most proud of is when I decided to separate my personal life from my work life. I spent a lot of time trying to maintain this veneer that everything was fine, when backstage it wasn’t. I wrote a very personal blog – an open letter to my late husband [Poorna’s husband Rob took his own life in 2015]. I felt I had done something which seemed like it had come at great personal cost but, really, it didn’t cost much at all and it connected people who genuinely needed that.”

Edith Bowman, TV and radio presenter

Bowman presented Poorna Bell with her award.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“My mum, for many reasons. She put up with me through my terrible teenage years and she survived breast cancer. She was 50 when she was diagnosed and had to undergo six weeks of intensive treatment followed by drugs for five years. Her biggest concern was that everyone else was alright. She’s 65 now and I’m so grateful that I’ve still got her.”

Jameela Jamil, Woman of the Year

Jameela Jamil

The actor, model and activist has spent the last year taking down the hypocrites of Instagram and championing women across the globe with her I Weigh initiative.

What is your greatest hope for women in 2019?

“My greatest hope for women in 2019 is that we stop using ugly words like ‘can’t’, ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘wouldn’t’ and we finally back ourselves and one another. Women are fearmongered out of any kind of bragging and self-pride, I think as a way of preventing our becoming too confident and powerful, but men are taught to do it from a young age. Even answering this question is uncomfortable for me, because admitting my success feels dirty and evil. Ha! So just learning to accept my remarkableness this year is going to be my challenge.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dame Kelly Holmes

Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Sports Star of the Year

At just 26 years old, Johnson-Thompson is already one of the world’s top 25 heptathletes of all time and is the current Commonwealth and World Indoor champion.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“I know everyone will say their mum but for me it really is. I was an only child growing up and was raised in a single-parent family. She always wanted me to have a hobby; first it was ballet and then it was athletics, and I’m so grateful for that. She took me on National Express buses to training and competitions and gave up so much. She’s remarkable.”

Dame Kelly Holmes, Olympic athlete

Holmes presented Katarina Johnson-Thompson with her award.

What are you most proud of?

“I’m still so proud that I won two Olympic gold medals. To be someone lucky enough to have the belief in themselves and to never give up on a dream is really important because I think a lot of people don’t believe they can – I could have given up many times. It’s easy to have self-doubt, but if people remain with the belief in themselves, sometimes that dream can come true. I know for me it did.”

Anne-Marie, Artist of the Year

Anne-Marie

The Brit Award-nominated, chart-topping singer is truly remarkable for her honest lyrics, infectious energy and determination to stay true to herself.

What is your greatest hope for women in 2019?

“Confidence, it is such an important thing for people to feel. You might think that a singer is confident yet I don’t think you could be more wrong about me. But I’m learning. If you are confident then you are strong; if you are confident then you are kind. [To feel more confident] I watch YouTube videos and TED Talks and I speak out on social media. I try to write captions that are honest; that helps me and also helps other people.”

Neelam Gill, model

Neelam Gill

Gill presented Anne-Marie with her award.

What are you most proud of?

“As a model, you’re in a very fast industry and it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind, but I try to really focus on what’s important to me. I always want to use my voice and stand up for what I believe in rather than just being seen as a face. With the generation we’re in and with social media, there’s constant comparison. I get sucked in – scrolling and seeing these perfect people – and I have to remind myself that it’s just a highlights reel, it’s not real life. I never want to make anyone else feel bad.”

Lauren ‘Lolli’ Mahon, The Triumph Award winner

Lauren ‘Lolli’ Mahon with Gina Martin

Diagnosed with breast cancer at 31, Mahon created Girl vs Cancer, an online community empowering women.

What are you most proud of?

“I am really proud of going through that last bout of chemo. At the start of the process it seems insurmountable; you just don’t know how you’ll get to the other side. When the chemo had finally left my body I went on a three-day bender of booze with my friends.”

Emma Willis, presenter

Emma Willis

Willis presented Lolli Mahon with her award.

What is your greatest hope for women in 2019?

“We are lucky to have this recognition now, women are very supportive of women and encouraging of women and we all want to have each other’s backs and I wonder whether my mum had that. I think it’s really important that we spread that message to all ages, especially the generations coming up.”

Gina Martin, Equality Champion of the Year

The activist behind the upskirting ban is committed to making change and proves there is power in grassroots campaigns.

What is your greatest hope for women in 2019?

“There’s such a long list of issues we need to work on. I’d love to see women stop asking for permission for things they want to do; for them to automatically be invited to the table to make change happen. I really want women to feel just as valuable in those rooms as men.”

Sara Pascoe, comedian and author

Sara Pascoe

Pascoe presented Gina Martin with her award

What are you most proud of?

“Like many women, I find it very difficult to be proud of myself, but doing stand-up makes me feel proud. I’d recommend it to anyone if they’ve ever thought about it because it makes you feel exhilarated. The act of doing something that scares you is always worth it.”

Katie Piper, Mentor of the Year

Katie Piper

Despite her own tragedy, the philanthropist and charity founder has bravely used her journey to inspire and change the lives of others.

What is your greatest hope for women in 2019?

“My greatest hope is that we keep pushing and keep breaking that glass ceiling. We’ve come so far in many ways but still have a long way to go. If all women could have the confidence to be the best version of themselves that would be so wonderful.”

Deborah Frances-White, author and activist

Deborah Frances-White

Remarkable Women Awards host

Who is your remarkable woman?

“Annie Lennox is my new favourite everything. Her remarkable speech about global feminism when she won The Icon Award rocked my world. I joked that she was such an icon that Andy Warhol would ask for a selfie with her and then I googled and found one. She is a legend with a great hair cut and a supernatural voice.”

Cressida Dick CBE, The Glass Ceiling Award winner

Vicky McClure with Cressida Dick

The first female Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis steadily rose through the ranks after joining the Met as one of just two female officers in a 1oo-strong squad in 1983.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“My mother. She gave me so much confidence. I was born in 1960 but she thought I could do anything my brother could and encouraged me to do so. I’m also grateful to the pioneers in my profession who, 100 years ago, wouldn’t take no for an answer and because of them, in 2019, we’ve got women in every role and every rank. We have them to thank.”

Vicky McClure, actor

McClure presented Cressida Dick with her award.

Who is your remarkable woman?

“My mum and my sister make me emotional just thinking of how remarkable they are to me. They are what encourages you. They’re what supports you – what holds you up when you’re down. How would you carry on without them? And so many people do. I’ve got friends who have lost mothers and siblings so I know how precious they are. The women in my life are truly the best women to me. I know we all feel it.”

Images: Bella Howard / Jameela Jamil photographed by Ben Rayner / Katie Piper photographed by David Titlow

Additional hair and make-up: Marisol Steward at Frank Agency

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Alix Walker

Alix Walker is editor-at-large at Stylist magazine. She works across print, digital and video and could give Mary Berry a run for her money with her baking skills.