Bolton born and bred, having attended Smithills School and worked in Bolton all her life, Gaynor has become integral to the Bolton Business Community, working alongside literally hundreds of small businesses on a daily basis. Through her marketing and advertising company thebestof bolton, she champions local businesses, supports Buy Local and really has a passion for helping businesses be the best they can be.

It’s through that passion, Gaynor, along with her husband David, recently launched ‘My Business Growth Academy’, the online business school for busy business owners, to enable small business owners to access online business support, training, coaching and more in a way that is affordable and accessible.

Gaynor also has a real passion for supporting Women in Business, having previously run her own successful Women’s Networking Group and recognises the value that women bring in their own unique way to the world of business.

Having been a successful business owner herself now for over a decade, she fully understands the pressures and stresses of running a small business and prides herself in delivering practical and effective support and advice, as someone who ‘walks the walk’ in her own business life.

She says, “As wives, mothers, homemakers and carers, as well as contributing in numerous ways in the workplace and business world, women bring a balanced and realistic dimension to life and so often I’m inspired by the stories of triumph over adversity and success despite juggling roles, I just marvel at the things women achieve’.

Asif Timol qualified as a commercial solicitor after training with a leading national law firm. His experience includes advising and representing a variety of businesses ranging from SMEs to large multi-nationals. He later set up his own consultancy and undertook court advocacy, appearing before district judges throughout the region. Asif now runs his own law firm, Momentum Legal, based in Bolton which provides legal services to businesses as well as individuals.

Outside the law, Asif’s passion has always been food! This passion along with his entrepreneurial nature lead to him setting up Room Four Dessert in Bolton, along with his university friend who is also a foodie. Room Four Dessert is a coffee shop, dessert parlour and deli which has become very much part of the Bolton landscape since it opened its doors four years ago. The business has also ventured into the external catering arena which.

The varied business background has provided a unique platform to support other ventured including the Inspire Awards for which he will be on the judging [panel for a second year and also as a judge on the taste of harmony event where he more than enjoyed sampling and judging the delicacies.

Asif is also on the governing body for a primary school in his home town of Preston and is a mentor with the University of Central of Lancashire. Cohesion is another topic of high importance and Asif has been involved in a number of grass root initiatives including completion of the Christian-Muslim-Humanist encounters programme last year.

In recent years he has received recognition for his efforts by way of nominations and national awards but his biggest achievement is his family, his wife who is a Bolton lass and two daughters aged 8 and 6.

Founder of Breaking the Cycle UK, Siddika Ahmed, is a British Bangladeshi woman committed to making a difference a difference to the future of girls from disadvantaged communities. Following successful education in the sciences, Siddika became a Health & Safety Executive for Shell Internationale in The Netherlands then moved on to the Sales and Marketing Division of a top 10 Global American Pharmaceutical Company. Achieving the best sales award in the first year and further success in following years, she sought a more personally fulfilling role in the voluntary and community sector.
Siddika supported groups from Black and ethnic minority communities to become active citizens in her role with a regional infrastructure organisation. She supported the development of the first joint North West Equality and Diversity Strategy, endorsed by the British government. She was elected to be the first Bangladeshi woman Chair of a strategic regional Equality Group. Her legacy was a positive celebration of Diversity each year appropriately named “celebr8: Don’t Discriminate”. Stakeholders show-cased the positive contributions that people from all minority groups made within their communities. In 2014 Siddika was selected to be a member of the British Bangladeshi Power 100 in the Activist category. Siddika’s contribution was recognised by the Minister of Communities and Local Government and she was appointed to be a member of the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group. The Group was given the mandate to lobby for the rights of Muslim women to become actively engaged in the political process and to act as role models for other women.

Bill Webster, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of Bolton

Bill is Assistant Vice Chancellor and Deputy to the Vice Chancellor at the University of Bolton and charged with overseeing its institutional advancement, business development, and student recruitment and student employability programs. He was also recently appointed as the Interim Principal of Bolton College in a role to run from 1st December 2017 to 31st August 2018.
A qualified marketer with more than 25 years’ experience in senior management within education and business, he has previously held roles as company director in an education and training consultancy and is an expert in implementing corporate social responsibility strategies.
Seconded to Bury College in July 2016 to support its Principal, he was instrumental in its successful merger with the University of Bolton.


Edith Conn OBE JP DL, was born in 1948 and was educated at Manchester Metropolitan University where she was awarded a B.A. (Hons) Humanities.

Edith was awarded with a Honorary Doctorate from Bolton University in 2008 for her outstanding commitment to the local community. Currently she is a Trustee for The Octagon Theatre, Bolton and a Board member for Bolton Lads and Girls club.

In 2000 Edith was honoured by Her Majesty The Queen when she was awarded the OBE for services to The Greater Manchester Red Cross.

Over the years Edith has given a significant amount of her time to the community and to a number of different charities and charities. She worked as a counsellor with the Citizens Advice Bureau and was the treasurer for the NSPCC. Edith became chairman of Manchester International Exhibition of Expressionism, was a committee member of the North West War Pensions Committee, chairman of Heart Research, Greater Manchester and a committee member of Christie Against Cancer.

Edith joined the Greater Manchester Branch of the British Red Cross in 1978 and since that time has held varied responsibilities including: District co-coordinator, Finance committee member, Branch Trustee, Awards Panel Chairman, 125th Birthday Chairman, North West Chairman of the National Humanity Awards, Landmine Appeal Chairman, a member of the Board for British Red Cross Events Ltd., committee member of the International Red Cross Gala Ball, Honorary Branch Director and chairman of the Manchester Gala Ball. In 1989 Edith was awarded the Badge of Honour for Devoted Service and Honorary Life Membership and in 1993 the Badge of Honour for Continued Dedicated and Distinguished Service. She was appointed Deputy President of The Greater Manchester Red Cross in 1995 and that same year she was appointed Magistrate to the Bolton Bench and became a chairman in 2000. In 1999 she was appointed President of the Greater Manchester Red Cross.

Edith continued her interest in the Red Cross and she was appointed President of the North West Area of the British Red Cross in 2005 and received the Badge of Honour for Outstanding Service to the British Red Cross.

In 2001 she was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant to the Greater Manchester Lieutenancy, and was appointed the High Sheriff for Greater Manchester for the period 2008/2009. From 2013 – 2016 Edith was appointed Vive Lord-Lieutenant for Greater Manchester.

Currently Edith is a Trustee for The High Sheriff Police Trust; a Trustee of Broughton House; a Trustee of the Skelton Bounty Charitable Trust and a Trustee of the The High Sheriff Police Trust. Edith has recently been appointed as a Trustee of We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. Edith is a member of the Patrons group for Manchester City Art Gallery; a member of the development committee for the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester; a Board member for Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit and is the Chair of Greater Manchester Crimestoppers

Edith has given considerable time to other charitable activities. She has been Chair Queens Award for Voluntary Service QAVS in Gretaer Manchester 2014 – 2017 and continues to be an Assessor; a Member Duchy of Lancaster Development Fund 2014 – 2016; Chairman Reclaim Youth Charity 2010 – 2014; Patron – Manchester City Art Gallery 2010 – 2014; a Volunteer for NSPCC, New Heart New Start, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Christie against Cancer and a member of the Citizens Advice Bureau CAB.


Julie Hilling, Member of Parliament for Bolton West in May 2010.

She was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Yvette Cooper in her role as Shadow Women’s and Equalities Minister in October 2010. The same month that she became a member of the Transport Select Committee. Ms. Hilling was appointed Chair of the all-party Rail in the North group of MPs. Julie also served on the Standards and Privileges Select Committee and is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Rail, Youth Affairs, Children, Community & Voluntary Sector and Save The Pub. Hilling was promoted to join the Whips office in June 2012.
Hilling launched a campaign to promote Emergency Life Skills (ELS). She linked up with Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, North West Ambulance Service as well as the British Heat Foundation to push for every school leaver in Bolton West to become trained in CPR and ELS. Throughout 2013, Hilling actively campaigned on dangerous dogs, following the death of 14-year-old constituent Jade Lomas-Anderson, in Atherton. She also sought to make amendments to the recent Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to include preventative measures such as Dog Control Notices and to control the number of dogs in a household.
In her Bolton West Constituency, Hilling leads campaign for lower Energy Bills.


Alyson specialises in a range of HR Management, Education, Equality and Social Issues related training and consultancy. She was Head of Lifelong Learning in Manchester and specialises in a range of HR Management, Education, Equality and Social Issues related training and consultancy, and works independently or in partnership with provider organisations.

Alyson worked for the Department of Education 2005-2008 producing equality materials for colleges and work based learning. Her publication, ‘Colour Blind’ was published by NIACE. Alyson also worked with GERI (Gender Equality & Race Inclusion) on reviewing/updating their Complete Equality & Diversity Training Toolkit and other published resources on gender equality.

Alyson’s has extensive experience in teaching and management and has held senior management posts in Further Education colleges in Preston, Liverpool and Bolton. She has worked in the post-16 education sector since 1985. Alyson also worked for NIACE as a Research and Development Officer on equalities/race and has conducted education and learning research nationally and internationally on post-16 education and race/equality issues.

As the Director of Equality & Diversity UK Ltd, she continues to develop resources and publications that focus on all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion.


John Lord OBE, CEO of Bolton At Home

During a long and successful career dedicated to the housing sector, Jon has contributed to Bolton in numerous valuable roles during the past three decades.

He has been a Chief Officer at Bolton Council, Chair of the Greater Manchester Consortium for refugees and asylum seekers and performed a joint role linking the Local Authority, the Strategic Housing Partnership and their ALMO (Arm’s Length Management Organisation), Bolton At Home.

Awarded his OBE for services to housing in 2007, today he is the Chief Executive of Bolton At Home, having overseen its transition from ALMO to a registered housing provider and charity that offers a wide range of housing and community based services across neighbourhoods in Bolton and champions the development of affordable housing.


Sital Raja-Arjan is a Bolton businesswoman and manager of iconic House of Raja’s-an Indian clothing and food business started by her parents. Under her leadership Sital has taken House of Raja’s to new heights. She is actively involved in promoting the Asian culture in Bolton and pulls in coach parties from all over Britain for curry tasting, cookery, saree sampling, and henna-painting demonstrations.

The House of Raja’s recently featured in a new ‘Taste of Harmony’ Cookbook by local not- for- profit organisation WiN, giving Sital the opportunity to work with some of the most talented chefs and cooks in Bolton.

Her kind nature and compassion for others really shines through in her charity work where Sital has shown a natural ability to not only raise money for her charities, but has managed to excite those around her to do the same, resulting in large donations and much more assistance going to those who need it.

Sital’s tireless efforts in promoting tourism in Bolton culminated in her being awarded an MBE in 2002. Sital continues to dedicate her time to The House of Rajas and her voluntary work in Bolton community.

Natalie Oyston, Owner and Publisher of Lancashire & North West Magazine

As the driving force behind her glossy lifestyle publication, Natalie finds herself as deeply immersed in community and charity work as she does in the content and design of her magazine.

Following the management buy-out and re-structuring of Lancashire & North West three years ago, she has worked tirelessly to consolidate the title as a pillar of the region’s media.

During that period, her position as a magazine owner and publisher has led her to take up other roles as patron of Aiming Higher Charity for disabled children and as a fundraiser for various cancer support and research charities.

She thrives on building community connections through her support of these causes in her publication and the fashion shows and other local events that she organises across the North West.