Co-Merseyside Women of the Year 2019 Revealed

Last week, Mia Austin, 26, from Heswall, was posthumously named Merseyside Woman of the Year and Inspirational Woman of the Year at our 2019, after tragically passing away the day before the ceremony.

Mia’s family asked that the ceremony be celebrated with its usual joy, humour and enthusiasm and that Mia’s accolade be passed on to the first runner up in the public vote for Merseyside Woman of the Year, so that it could be used to do good in the region.

After the winner’s announcement, two of Mia’s friends took to the stage to accept the award on her behalf, before Collette McCann, from headline sponsor Michael W Halsall Solicitors, returned to reveal the second runner up as Victoria Charlton and first runner up and 2019 Co-Merseyside Woman of the Year, Laura Hughes.

A spokesperson for Mia’s family said: “Mia would not want the other finalists to be sad. She would want them to celebrate how wonderful and inspirational they all are. She would also want to make sure the platform that being Merseyside Woman of the Year provides would be used to do good things in our region, which is why we are delighted to pass on that mantle to Laura Hughes.

“Mia was so excited to be a finalist in the MWOTY awards and she campaigned hard generate public votes. She wanted win so she could raise more awareness about the issues close to her heart and to extend her charity work. It is obviously a very sad time for us, but we are so happy that she succeeded in her efforts and we wish Laura the very best of luck in role as co-Merseyside Woman of the Year.”

The accolade of Merseyside Woman of the Year comes with a year of support and guidance from the MWOTY network, including membership to the Mayoral 100 Club, provided by the city’s Mayoral Club.

In line with Mia’s wishes, this opportunity will now be passed on to Laura Hughes, anti-knife crime campaigner and the sister of Colin McGinty, who was brutally stabbed to death in a shocking case of mistaken identity in 2001.

Co-Merseyside Woman of the Year 2019, Laura, said: “I am honoured to be Co-Merseyside Woman of the Year 2019. Knife crime in our amazing city is at an all-time high and myself and my team feel that MWOTY is a fantastic platform from which to continue to raise awareness of the ‘No More Knives’ message.

“My brother should be here with us, he should be celebrating his 40th birthday, but unfortunately he can’t be which is just so sad. I am confident that my team and I can continue to raise awareness of our message and also the campaigns that were close to Mia’s and her family’s heart. Our team recently took part in the Southport half marathon and we dedicated this run to Mia and her family.”

Collette McCann, from Michael W Halsall Solicitors, added: “Mia was a truly inspirational young woman and a deserving winner of the title ‘Woman of the Year’. We were heartbroken to hear of her passing and wish to extend our deepest sympathies to her family, friends and loved ones.

“She did so much for so many people in her short life, despite the enormous challenges that she has faced personally. We can all learn so much from her strength, determination, courage and compassion. The decision to pass opportunity on to Laura Hughes demonstrates clearly just how much she embodies the MWOTY spirit.

“Laura’s work fundraising and campaigning to stop young people carrying knives is vital and her passion and determination is inspiring. We are sure that she will do Mia proud and use the opportunity to make real change in Merseyside and beyond.”

Second runner up was Victoria Charlton, owner of Complete Works dance school, whose building was destroyed in the 2016 New Ferry blast. She was recognized for selflessly focusing on the welfare of the children in her care after the incident.

Speaking after the ceremony, Ellen Kerr from the Merseyside Women of the Year Awards, said: “Today’s event has been tinged with sadness following devastating news about Mia, but we hope that her posthumous awards can been seen as a celebration and acknowledgement of her life and incredible work. Her determination and kindness is an example to us all.

“Mia embodied the spirit of the Merseyside Women of the Year awards and proved that no matter what life throws at you, you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. That and her generosity in passing on the opportunity to Laura will be her legacy. She will forever be part of our MWOTY family.

“We will continue to be in touch with Mia’s family and we will do whatever it can to support them at this difficult time.”

Fellow event organiser, Jean Gadsby, added: “We would of course like to offer a huge congratulations to Laura Hughes and all of the other winners and finalists who have made this day so special. Each and every one of you are a star and we are proud to know you all.”

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