Inspire Awards is proud to join forces with The Zebra Partnership, headed by Carol Ann Whitehead FRSA to bring you the 2019 Inspire Awards on June 22nd at the prestigious Premier Suite of Bolton Whites, University of Bolton Stadium.

Now in its fifth year, The Inspire Awards recognise and celebrate  a wealth of inspiring  extraordinary women who have made outstanding contributions to wider Bolton and surrounding areas., including Lancashire, GMR & Merseyside.

Carol Ann is a communications expert with over 20 years event management experience from outdoor festivals, conferences, political hustings, award ceremonies to royal visits.

She is co-founder of the globally recognised Ada Lovelace day Wikieditathon which is working to improve diversity on Wikipedia.

A Royal Society of Arts Fellow, Carol Ann delivered a lecture to the United Nations Youth Association in October 2018 as part of the People’s Hub Project team. Her inspiration and passion comes from the Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights Movement.

An established mentor she would like to encourage women local to global to be the inspiration…

Carol Ann Whitehead FRSA.

Associate Lecturer, Business Projects  ~ Winner of Jacqueline Golds #WOW Business Award ~ #QueenOf Engaging Events Winner

The 2018 Inspire Awards ceremony, held at the Whites Premier Suite in the Macron Stadium, was the largest and best attended in the event’s four year history. The awards ceremony was completed when the main prize, the Woman of the Year award, was presented by Jon Lord, CEO of Bolton Home, to Debbie Dowie, who established the Boot Out Breast Cancer charity. Earlier in the evening Debbie had also won the Charity Fundraiser of the Year award.

Debbie,  founded Boot Out Breast Cancer after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Her cancer was diagnosed early and she received prompt treatment, but Debbie realised that not all women were so lucky and the NHS was in need of the latest diagnostic equipment. She wanted other women with the same illness to be able to have the same life-saving treatment she had and Boot Out Breast Cancer was created in 2010. Since then Debbie, as chairman, and her hard-working team of 7 friends have raised well over £700,000 to buy equipment for breast units at the Royal Bolton Hospital, the Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, the Thomas Linacre Breast Centre at Wrightington, the Wigan & Leigh NHS Hospital and the Paterson Institute in Manchester. Debbie is married to  TV sports pundit and former international footballer Iain Dowie,

After receiving her awards Debbie said:

I was shocked and honoured just to be nominated. To be named as Charity Fundraiser of the Year was fantastic as I really didn’t expect to win, but to then be named as Woman of Year was absolutely overwhelming.”

P Thompson

OUR Pre-Event ‘Herald of Inspiration Luncheon’ played host to a large gathering of our awards’ key associates and supporters including local government officials, heads of industry, business chiefs and social sector leaders as well as other well-known figures from the Bolton area.

This high profile ‘meet-and-greet’ on 9th March at the stunning ‘Cloisters Suite’ of Holiday Inn in Bolton town centre, of nominees, sponsors and judges enabled lasting connections and memories.

During the luncheon numerous important introductions were facilitated as well as details about our awards night ceremony to be held on May 5th, including a full unveiling of the 2018 Inspire Awards’ new, improved and extended format were shared.

Gulnaz Brennan, Inspire Awards organiser, said: “The response and turn-out at the pre-Award lunch was incredible, far exceeding our expectations.

“In the aftermath of #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns it just shows that the time is right for an event celebrating remarkable women in Bolton.

“This lunch was a tiny snapshot of what is planned for the big night in May.”

The Inspire Awards, which support local charities will take place at the Macron stadium on May 5, and Ms Brennan is encouraging businesses, organisations and individuals to get involved.

Since her arrival as Headmistress at Bolton School Girls’ Division in 2011, Sue Hincks as worked tirelessly to improve learning outcomes for pupils at the School and further afield. Her initial aim “ was to position Bolton Girls among the best performing and most sought after schools in the region.” With regular placings in the top flight of national independent school league tables by EBacc results and all Year 7 places having been full for the last three years, this has been achieved.
During her headship, she has overseen the building of a new shared Riley Sixth Form Centre, the introduction of scholarships, the issuing of iPads to all pupils, introduced a programme of highly acclaimed speakers and enrichment lectures open to the local community, been much involved with local children, typified by the SHINE programme, and with schools and the community, culminating in Bolton School being awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service last summer. Sue is a governor at nearby Smithills School, an ISI Inspector and an active member of the GSA where she represented them on HMC’s Academic Policy Committee, was Chair of the GSA Education Committee (2014-17) and is President-Elect of the GSA 2019.
Sue gained a first in modern languages and history and a PGCE from Oxford. Her first teaching role was in a Peterborough comprehensive before spells at Marlborough College and Gresham’s School in Norfolk. She was appointed Deputy Head of The King’s School, Worcester, the first woman in its history to hold this position, before taking her current role. She enjoys choral music and drama sharing these passions with students everywhere she has taught

‘Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion’
I love my career as a Personal Trainer and during my seven years within the industry I have inspired people to push through the hard times, taught people to never give up and helped people achieve goals they never thought possible. Every individual must start somewhere and I’m their somewhere. I teach, support, motivate and encourage them towards a healthier lifestyle.
My passion for Personal Training (PT) was at its highest when I took the opportunity to create my own PT studio, Attract Fitness, which opened in November 2017 to the people of Bolton. I wanted to create a space that broke down any barriers an individual may have on self-image or feeling conscious around other people, the studio is exclusive to each client that comes through the door. Everything is tailored towards them from nutrition plans & exercise programmes to the smaller things like lighting and music, which can really create the appropriate ambience for the client or clients. I’m proud of the space I have created and in 4 months have built a strong client base that

I am Diane Hughes and own Mind Body Works, my holistic therapy Business specialising in natural therapies and products.
I have been a therapist for 15 years working mainly with large corporate clients massaging over 7,000 staff to help with health and well-being in the workplace. Clients in Horwich include, EON and Regenda Housing Association and 02. I have worked with top TV shows including Britain’s got Talent and Mrs Browns Boys, and worked in Manchester theatres looking after celebrities.

At the same time, growing my Tropic Skincare business in the Bolton area supporting numerous Ambassadors by training them in facials, make-up and hosting pamper sessions. I have spoken on stage at a Tropic Skincare Conference to 1,000 ambassadors with Lord Sugar and Susie Ma who own Tropic.
I am passionate about the therapies I use, and always keen to learn new ones. Qualified in aromatherapy, sports, Hot Stone, Indian Head, Deep tissue, forearm massage, and specialising in TMJ, facia release, Dorn Method and CFT. I also trained in Reflexology, Reiki, Hopi ear candles, Hypnosis, NLP, EFT, and facials. I used these therapies to help my father through a month of hospital palliative care after a stroke, helping to comfort and support him until he passed. Holistic therapies are so needed in palliative care to bring comfort.
Bolton has been great for my career through its good networking and business groups. I am looking to achieve some new contacts to help further my holistic business in the Bolton area.

I left my corporate position after 30 years in marketing, media and sales after hitting the big 50 …

I am founder & sole owner of JGMN MARKETING MEDIA & NETWORKING

These years of experience lead me to develop JGMN. A business & social media platform for small businesses, offering an affordable extra arm to their business, our aim is to elevate their business through the eyes of a professional, throwing out creative ideas and savvy business & marketing knowledge, whilst producing business plans & strategies, with affordable individual packages to suit each client.

Why did I set up the company? I felt there was a missing cog in the market place for the small business to develop and grow organically. Small local businesses were being left behind by the big players, who could afford the salary of a strategic Marketing team. My commitment in offering my skills, helps my clients achieve the growth they want. It is so important to the JGMN team that we get to know our clients. We want to ensure “their” voice is heard through their social media platforms (not ours).

We are a crazy mix of personalities with attributes and skills from marketing pros, networkers, techies and social media gurus. The whole team are dedicated to help businesses develop brand awareness through social media, we use it for our clients to reach out to a wider audience than any other form of advertising.

As we all know social media is becoming more powerful day by day, If your not using social media and ‘networking’ your competitor will get that first date…. first impressions count…


Bekah Lord started Bekah’s Little Cakery in September 2014. With a passion for all things cake, her business caters for all special events – from bespoke wedding and birthday cakes to cupcakes and tray bakes for themed parties.

After returning home to Bolton from York after University, Rebekah was motivated to begin her business by her desire to support and encourage her young daughter. With a talent for baking she embarked on a Cake Decoration course at Bolton Community College (ABC Cake Decorating Level one) and upon completion set up business from home. Fitting orders around the childcare of her daughter. She has now produced over 100 special events cakes and provided cupcakes and tray bakes at over 50 events from Wedding and Christmas Fairs to Ladies Nights and School Parties.

Bekah continues to develop Bekah’s Little Cakery beyond special events cakes: transitioning from her home kitchen, she now supplies her indulgent cakes and tray bakes to The Barlow, in Edgworth, where she also has her commercial kitchen. From this platform, the cakes keep on coming and the vision grows: Bekah’s Little Cakery will begin demonstration classes and make-your-own cakes party events. Perhaps the most exciting development is Bekah’s recent purchase of a horsebox which is being refurbished as Bekah’s Little Cakery’s very own vintage cake van. This will be available to hire for weddings and special events complete with bespoke dessert table packages. As well as being available for Rebekah to sell her cakes from at Markets, Fairs and food festivals.

NOMINATIONS are pouring in for the annual Inspire Awards which honour women from in and around the Bolton area. 

The closing date to suggest an individual for the prestigious awards is 16 Feburary and, as organiser Gulnaz Brennan, stated: “We want to hear about all those remarkable women whose work is never highlighted.” 

The awards themselves will be made at a special presentation evening at the Macron Stadium on Saturday, May 5. Last year, around 300 women attended the event when it was held at the University of Bolton and the Octagon Theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman took the main Woman of the Year Award. 

The awards, originally started in a much smaller way as part of the Women in Neighbourhoods’ project, has grown over the years. 

This year, there are main awards sections covering Charity, Social, Sports, Industry, Business and Special awards. Each category is sub-divided into individual awards which include titles like Charity Volunteer of the Year, Carer of the Year, Team of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Woman in IT Award, Woman in Housing, Senior Woman of the Year and Businesswoman of the Year.  

A shortlist of finalists will be decided by a distinguished panel of judges which includes John Lord OBE who is CEO of Bolton at Home, Elizabeth Newman from the Octagon, magazine publisher Natalie Oyston, Darren Knight who is Chief Executive of Bolton Community and Voluntary Services and Bill Webster, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton among others. 

Sponsors and associates for the awards so far include Bolton at Home, Bolton College, Lancashire Life Magazine, Community Film Art & Media CIC, Bolton CVS, University of Bolton, I Event Media and Room Four. 

Commented Mrs Brennan: “I am delighted with the response to the awards.  

“We have attracted a high calibre of both judges and of sponsors so far and the willingness to be involved in the awards all round is a reflection of how important these awards are viewed locally.” 

She still wants to hear from local businesses and organisations who would like to sponsor categories or individual awards and help showcase  the town’s unsung female heroines. 

For all information about the awards go to or email 

LAST year’s Inspire Awards ‘Woman of the Year’ Elizabeth Newman, the creative director of Bolton’s celebrated Octagon Theatre, is well placed to reflect on the importance of our event. Now on the judging panel for our 2018 ceremony, she tells us what the awards mean to her, who she hopes to recognise come May and why it’s important for Bolton to back our new-look awards.

IN the ten short years theatre director Elizabeth Newman has lived in Bolton, she’s achieved an extraordinary amount for one so young.

The 31-year-old has channelled her remarkable drive and determination to affect change in the town she now calls “one of the great loves of my life.” Since taking the helm of Bolton’s unique playhouse she has delivered acclaimed productions to sell-out crowds who revelled in her visions for To Kill a Mocking Bird and Singing in the Rain – both of which received Manchester Theatre Awards.
But she considers her work to engage the diverse community of Bolton in less conventional theatre work, ensuring her workplace is “there for every person in the town”, equal in success to those better known stage productions. It is that initiative for equality and accessibility that made her such a worthy winner of our most coveted honour last year.
Sitting in the round of ‘The Octagon’, she reflected on the importance she has come to place on the awards. “They are about women in the town being inspired to dedicate themselves to Bolton and its people,” she said.

“They encourage women to be as active as possible in their community, but also recognise the work done by women who try to make things better for their town and the people of that town. It is vital that we continue to celebrate these amazing women.”

Despite a busy calendar London-born Elizabeth didn’t hesitate in taking a role on the 2018 Inspire Awards judging panel, describing the task as “an absolute privilege.”

Asked how she’ll approach the responsibility, she explained: “I’m going to look for women who have used unorthodox mechanisms to support people, who haven’t necessarily followed the way others say it should be done but have found new and better ways to contribute. I also want to find women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, especially those who have gone unnoticed.”

She added: “I feel lucky to be able to read first hand all the great work being done by these amazing women in supporting their communities.”

Ms. Newman arrived at last year’s event expecting to give an award, not receive one. Her colleagues kept her true fate secret from her. And recalling the moment she was announced as ‘Woman of the Year’, she said: “I was in such a state of shock, I couldn’t really believe it. I’ve been in Bolton for ten years now, sort of plugging away, trying to do my best for the town. It was such a privilege to be even considered in that way. It made me stop to pause and think about all that had been done. It was an incredibly humbling moment.”

And now with greater insight and understanding of what it means to receive an Inspire Awards, her support for next year’s event is palpable.

In a clarion call to sponsors, she said: “Sponsors play an important part in encouraging women to carry on doing their great work. I think it’s important for businesses in Bolton to celebrate the great things that happen and get done in Bolton, and we need moments when we say, ‘look guys, we’re doing a good job, everyone is trying really hard for the town and it is working.’ The Inspire Awards do just that.”