It was an honour to attend this year’s Lunch celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Women Of The Year. The first event was founded by Lady Lothian OBE, who was also Patron of the National Council of Women. Lady Lothian was responsible for organising our list of Honorary Associates, who support our work; some of the current holders attended the lunch.

The President, Sandi Toksvig, hosted the event brilliantly, reminding us all that “the remarkable women who make up the attendees and winners at this lunch are being recognised for their stride in making the world a better place”. Over 400 guests listened with admiration as the six award winners, briefly described below, responded to their citations with the remarkable stories of their achievements.

Cokie van der Velde, a grandmother and nurse working on the front-line in the fight against Ebola.

Jayne Senior, who helped report 1400 victims of child abuse in Rotherham, gave them a voice and is now supporting them.

Dame Stephanie Shirley, her life’s work ‘a crusade for women to be respected for their capabilities’, notable for her ground-breaking work setting up a computer company from her dining table in 1962, and now a philanthropist.

Pat Rogers, devastated by the loss of her son, who was killed when acting as a peacemaker in the town centre in Blackburn, uses her skills to produce and circulate education resources to encourage young people to address binge drinking and potential consequent violence.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who made one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the twentieth century. She was overlooked for the Nobel Prize for Physics but went on to break new ground for women, including serving as President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Kristin Hallenga diagnosed with cancer at age 23, a year after reporting a lump in her breast to her doctor. She founded CoppaFeel! with her twin sister, to alert more young women to the need to check their breasts regularly. Kristin also said, “If body awareness was written into the curriculum, or even if Personal Social Health and Economic education was statutory that would have an incredible impact and it saddens me that the government doesn’t see the importance of teaching these extra things to kids.”

Kristin’s final point is of particular interest to NCW as the need for PSHE to be a compulsory subject in the school curriculum is a policy issue about which NCW is continuing to press government.

Listening to the award winners was inspirational and there was also much to remember from an afternoon of conversations with women from all walks of life,  making so many aspects of life better in their communities.