Bradford’s unsung female heroes were once again honoured for their contributions and achievements across public and home life at the fourth, annual Bradford Inspirational Women Awards (BIWA), which took place on Saturday 28 March at Life Centre, Wapping Road, Bradford, BD3 0EQ

The Inspirational Women Foundation hosts the Bradford Inspirational Women Awards each year, with a view to inspire and aspire future generations. This year’s award ceremony was once again presented by broadcasters, Sunny and Shay Grewal. Chief Guests included athlete and Paralympic head coach Paula Dunn; Shadow Equalities Minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Glenys Thornton; former leader and former vice chair of the Respect party, Salma Yaqoob; and Respect Party MP for Bradford West, George Galloway among other high profile attendees.

BIWA 2015 Teacher Award winner, Sally Layas of Holy Cross School, presented by George GallowayAll funds raised from the night via ticket sales will be used to support female causes such as court fees for women who have been subjected to sexual harassment in the work place; supporting victims of domestic violence, women struggling to find work, women in business and other worthy causes.

The award ceremony, which highlights the stories of the district’s inspirational women, continues to go from strength to strength with a new category added each year. This year’s new category was Inspirational Woman Teacher. In addition, two Special Awards for Woman of the Year and Mum of the Year (selected by public vote) were presented on the night by the founders of the Inspirational Woman Foundation – a not for profit organisation established to work with and to support women at home, in the workplace, in the community or in business, of which the Inspirational Women Awards are now a part. The event was supported by British Airways,  who donated a return flight to New York for the Woman of the Year award recipient.

The shortlist represented the diverse communities of Bradford, with finalists comprising British-born, Bradford locals alongside those with heritage roots in Eastern Europe, India and Pakistan, with one nominee from a military background. The panel of judges comprised: Geraldine Howley, Group Chief Executive, Incommunities; Gary Peacock, General Manager, Midland Hotel; and Elizabeth Bradbury, CEO, Jewish Welfare Board.

BIWA 2015 Employee Lynn Cunningham with Salma YaqoobWinners of the Bradford Inspirational Women Awards 2015:


Lynne Cunningham – YMCA

Public/Voluntary Sector

Yasmin Khan – Staying Put


Saima Hussain – Rugby player for Yorkshire and England Rugby team

BIWA 2015 Community Star Winner -Beverley BartonCommunity Star and Woman of the Year

Beverley Barton

Business Woman

Liva Alberta – Concierge Estates


Sally Layas – Holy Family Catholic School

Mum of the Year (selected by public vote)

Teresa Maria Gornall

Youth Award

Due to the hospitalisation of finalist, Ashleigh Mae Bowers, the panel deemed the category difficult to judge without her profile inclusion. As a result, all three finalists were winners: Ashleigh Mae Bowers, Amy Barker,  Melissa Steele.

BIWA 2015 Founders Award, COO of BRI Helen Barker; nurses and staff, Ward 27; and nurses and staff at the Endocrine and Diabetes department.This year’s Special Founders Award was presented to the nurses and admin team on Ward 27 and Endocrinology and Diabetes unit, Bradford Teaching Hospitals. BIWA Founder, Fatima Patel, has suffered health issues since October 2013. Being bed bound for months was deeply challenging and disheartening for someone who has always been active. The nurses played a vital role in helping her maintain dignity and keeping her spirits high. The nurses go out of their way to make patients comfortable and the work they do often goes unnoticed. As a result, the Special Founders Award saluted all nurses, particularly the team at Bradford Teaching Hospitals.

Editor, Asian Sunday newspaper and BIWA Founder, Fatima Patel, has herself experienced a remarkable and inspirational journey in the past year, which made the cause this year even more personal. She said, “It was lovely to see so many people come together, united for women and equality. As long as inequalities remain for women, the Inspirational Women Foundation will remain in existence and keep promoting, empowering and inspiring.

Jane Vincent, Inspirational Women Foundation and BIWA Co-Founder said, “The awards tonight have been the strongest yet and that is evident from the number of people who have attended today, coming from all parts of the country. It has been a great evening as always and we are proud to once again show off Bradford’s inspirations.”