Merseyside Women of the Year 2024 Finalists Revealed

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The finalists for the Merseyside Women of the Year Awards 2024 have been revealed and the public has been invited to vote for their overall ‘Woman of the Year’.

The 20 finalists have been recognised for their work supporting and improving the lives of people in Merseyside and beyond, through business leadership, voluntary work, activism, charitable organisations, and entrepreneurial and creative endeavours.

Category winners and the overall ‘Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024’ will be revealed at a glittering ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Liverpool City Centre on Friday 28th June.

The finalists, who hail from Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, St Helens, Knowsley and Halton, are:

  • Abby Younis – Women Conquering Cancer
  • Adele Connah – Cancer survivor and creator of ‘healing baskets’
  • Amanda Unsworth  – Trinity Logistics
  • Claire Morgans – YKids
  • Donna Scully – Carpenters Group
  • Ema Quinn – Choir With No Name Liverpool
  • Emily McChrystal – Restless Development
  • Jacqui McAssey – GIRLFANS
  • Jayne Hughes – Amy and Friends
  • Jen Deeney – Liverpool Women’s Neonatal Partnership
  • Joanne Henney – Nugent
  • Kate Martinez – Sefton Park Palm House
  • Katie Gordon-Orr – Fighting to be Heard
  • Kiera Vogel – Senate Group
  • Leanne Hobin – Merseyside Police & St Helens Bees Netball Club
  • Lynne Akwei-Howe – Crea8ing Community
  • Merfat Musleh – Savera UK
  • Paula Thompson – Spectrum Connect CIO
  • Serena Silcock-Prince – Silcock Leisure Group
  • Tracey Roberts – The Jade L Roberts Project


With judges’ votes already counted, the finalists will now be put to a public vote to determine who the overall Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024 will be, with voting open online now here:

The annual celebration of exceptional women from across the region, will take place at the Crowne Plaza in Liverpool City Centre on Friday 28th June, with the event’s long-standing and much loved commère, Pauline Daniels hosting the event.

Founding Director, Ellie Kerr, said: “This year we saw the largest number of entries we have ever received, and the quality was outstanding. It wasn’t an easy decision for our judging panel, being presented with nominations for so many inspiring women, but we are so excited to be able to reveal our 2024 finalists.

“The MWOTY movement is committed to providing a platform for women to be seen, heard and found. Our finalists are business and community leaders, volunteers, campaigners and creatives who are using their time, skills and expertise to help others, change whole industries and make our region a better place.

“Many do this away from the spotlight and ask nothing for themselves. However, we believe their work should be visible and celebrated, and that by stepping onto the MWOTY platform and becoming part of our community, we can work together to help make even more difference.

“Congratulations to all of our finalists, every single nominee, and thank you to everyone who took the time to make a nomination. It’s truly humbling to know how many brilliant women are out there in the region!”

Moira O’Shaughnessy, Managing Partner, FPC, said: “As the headline sponsor of MWOTY for the second consecutive year, we’re both proud and excited to be sharing the stories of another round of inspiring finalists, each as deserving as the last.

“MWOTY shines a spotlight on women who demonstrate a remarkable commitment to their communities, making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. We can’t wait to celebrate these trailblazing women and honour their achievements with an unforgettable day at the awards next month.

“Our congratulations to the finalists and all those who entered this year. MWOTY wouldn’t be the movement it is without the incredible women who take part each year.”

Renowned for putting a spotlight on those women who do not seek the limelight or push themselves to the front, but instead work to make a difference to the people, sectors, and communities they serve, the awards have grown in popularity and impact since their re-establishment in 2010.

The overall Merseyside Woman of the Year 2024 will be selected from all finalists, following a public vote (contributing 50% of the overall score) and being marked by the organisation’s judging panel against its criteria, contributing the remaining 50% of the final score. The public vote is open until midnight on Sunday 2nd June 2024.

The coveted top prize will be presented by headline sponsor, FPC, and category sponsors for 2024 include Community Foundation for Merseyside, LawMed, Morecrofts, Investec Wealth & Investment (UK), part of the Rathbones Group Plc, Rise Construction Framework, Auteur Media, Neo Community and ADDvanced Solutions and the Institute of Directors (IoD).

To cast your vote for Merseyside Woman of the Year, visit:

To book tickets or find out more, visit: ​


Abby Younis – Women Conquering Cancer

Abby Younis was diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer during COVID. Determined to “payback” the Liverpool Women’s Hospital (LWH) for the swift treatment she received during the pandemic, help other women, and make her cancer a “good news story”, she approached LWH to offer the Mona Lisa Touch laser treatment on the NHS to help women suffering from debilitating urogenital symptoms of surgical and natural menopause. This required raising £50,000 for the purchase of laser and Abby worked tirelessly to achieve this through her “Women Conquering Cancer” campaign, whilst still recovering from her surgery. The target was reached, and Liverpool Women’s Hospital will make history for being the first hospital to provide this life-changing treatment on the NHS. Thousands of women will benefit, and Abby hopes that other women’s hospitals will follow.

Adele Connah – Cancer survivor and creator of ‘healing baskets’

Adele Connah was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2020, and underwent six months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Going through a hard time during treatment she discovered products which gave relief from the effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, such as ginger biscuits and ginger tea to help with nausea, black nail varnish to protect her nails from exposure to UV rays and prevent them from falling out, and medicine organisers. At the end of her treatment, determined to arm as many people as possible starting chemotherapy with things that would help them, she started creating ‘healing baskets’ of these products, often making them out of her own pocket. Every time a person receives one of Adele’s baskets, they receive what they need to support them through their treatment, and they receive a message of hope. They hear her story and know that they can fight and win too.

Amanda Unsworth – Trinity Logistics

Amanda Unsworth is the Managing Director of Trinity Logistics, a female-led business in a male dominated industry. Amanda’s career story has humble beginnings, with her working as a docker at Liverpool Port at the age of 17. From there she worked for a number of shipping lines in the UK and Europe, eventually holding a global management position in India. After 14 years Amanda moved into freight forwarding, setting up a Liverpool supply chain department which flourished. It was while in this position and after falling pregnant with her second child that she decided to go it alone and established Trinity Logistics. She took her first company to a turnover of £42 million in 2022 and opened a sister office in Shenzhen, China – all before the age of 40. With over 25 years of experience in shipping and logistics Amanda is now an advocate for trying to influence the industry, together with its clients and suppliers in going greener – encouraging shipments to be delivered closer to the end destination – maximising the use of Liverpool Ports to deliveries to the North, utilising rail and moving cargo to local hubs for onward deliveries

Claire Morgans – YKids

Claire Morgans is the Founder and CEO of Ykids, a local charity that was established 20 years ago and is positively impacting on the lives of 1000s of children, young people and their families. It is Claire’s passion, creativity and determination to make things happen that enables Ykids to make change and be the change. Claire has set up two social enterprises and the Kingsley & Co bookshop, creating employment and training for over 150 young people facing barriers to work and has raised over 7.5 million pounds which has been invested back in the community. She is one of Merseyside’s true hidden heroes. Through Ykids, world changers are being raised, through activities and support children and young people are believing and becoming equipped to make a difference to their own lives and the world around them.

Donna Scully – Carpenters Group

Donna is a Joint Owner/Director at Carpenters Group one of the UK’s leading providers of insurance and legal services. A global leader in the insurance world, based in Liverpool for over 25 years with a proud Irish heritage, Donna is a lawyer, experienced public speaker and podcaster who also works closely with the Ministry of Justice in relation to motor claims and civil justice reform. Carpenters Group employs more than 2,000 people and is one of the region’s biggest business success stories, but Donna is also a huge advocate and supporter for those in society that need extra care and lives and breathes it in her actions. She runs a homeless breakfast club every Sunday which she personally attends and prepares food for. She is also an Ambassador for Fans Supporting Foodbanks, a Football for Change Champion and she mentors for the Girls Network & The Insurance Breakfast Club.

Ema Quinn – Choir With No Name Liverpool

Ema Quinn is the Choir Manager for the Choir with No Name (CWNN) Liverpool, which involves people who are affected by homelessness or otherwise marginalised. The CWNN Liverpool is a supportive family where a conventional one may not exist. By singing together and sitting down to enjoy a hot meal once a week, its members build the support network and self-confidence needed to move away from homelessness long-term. The choir is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and Ema has managed the choir since joining six months after it was established. In that time, it has welcomed 391 people and performed +150 gigs. Ema has touched every single person. She goes far over and above the remit of her part time role, with many choir members saying that her compassion, empathy, practical, problem-solving nature and willingness to help has saved their lives. Ema also runs GoodGym Liverpool, a group of local residents who run, walk, or cycle to help out community projects and older people.

Emily McChrystal – Restless Development

Emily McChrystal (she/they) is a young leader and changemaker who is empowering marginalised young people in the Liverpool City Region and beyond to demand that their voices are heard and enact change in our community. She was pivotal in the establishment and development of Comic Youth’s Marginal Publishing House, the first youth-led publisher of its kind in the UK and has supported the publication of 18 books directly made by marginalised creatives within Merseyside. She was the sole facilitator in the ground-breaking Wealth Shared project to distribute £100k to organisations in L8 and is now a Youth Power Coordinator at Restless Development. Emily has supported +535,000 community members within the UK directly through her campaigning, engagement, and training. Emily has also helped generate just over half a million pounds for the organisations and communities she has worked with through fundraising and bid securing and continues to add to that figure.

Jacqui McAssey – GIRLFANS

Jacqui McAssey is a designer and image maker and Senior Lecturer at Liverpool School of Art and Design. Since 2013, she has used photography, print and social media to give female football supporters visibility and a sense of belonging in football culture through her publication ‘GIRLFANS’. Alongside the fanzine Jacqui has developed a football merchandise and memorabilia concept, where she reclaims and feminises phrases, chants and songs from the former male-dominated football terraces, including ‘The 12th Woman’ which was used in a campaign to support female supporters of Bury Football Club, after the club’s expulsion from the English Football League. She made a bespoke ‘Lionesses coat’ out of pre-loved football scarves for the FA’s England Women’s squad announcement film, ahead of their historic victory in the 2022 UEFA Women’s EUROs, which has enabled her to spread the importance of engaging women in sport, design and culture.

Jayne Hughes – Amy and Friends

Jayne Hughes is the CEO of Amy and Friends, a charity supporting children suffering from DNA repair disorders in childhood, and their families/carers. In 2005 Jayne and her daughter Amy travelled to America where Amy was diagnosed with Cockayne Syndrome (CS), after eight years of struggling. The condition has no cure and only palliative treatment. Jayne decided to create something not just to help Amy, but also other families like theirs. The charity holds an annual conference bringing together +300 family members from across the world and 42 scientists/medics to collaborate with research, make diagnosis, and provide help and guidance, as well as offering 24/7 online support, respite for parents/siblings and weekly zoom activities to reduce isolation. In 2019, Jayne set up a rare disease clinic for children affected by CS and related disorders. Sadly, in 2020, Amy passed away, but Jayne continues Amy’s legacy and her wish to help others like her through her tireless work.

Jen Deeney – Liverpool Women’s Neonatal Partnership

Jen Deeney is a dynamic healthcare leader and advocate for workplace safety, whose visionary leadership and compassionate approach have transformed neonatal care and inspired positive change in her community. As the Head of Nursing for Liverpool Women’s Neonatal Partnership, Jen has pioneered innovative initiatives to enhance patient care and support families during challenging times. Her fundraising efforts for Liverpool Women’s Hospital Charity have raised vital funds, strengthening the hospital’s programs and initiatives. Jen’s resilience and determination, following the tragic loss of her husband in a workplace accident, have sparked a movement for improved safety measures in the construction industry, saving lives and improving the well-being of families nationwide. Her unwavering commitment to serving others makes her a true champion for women, babies, and families in need, earning her recognition as a beacon of hope and inspiration in her community.

Jo Henney – Nugent

Jo Henney is the CEO at Nugent, a charity that employs approximately 450 colleagues, that provides vital social care services across the Merseyside region. In her role Jo has positioned Nugent at the forefront of social care within Merseyside, operating more than 15 different services, seeking to provide care pathways that support individuals from birth through to end of life – a rare thing within the charity sector to aspire to provide such a range of services. An inspirational and passionate changemaker, Jo is also Chair of Trustees for Emmaus Merseyside, on the charity advisory board for Professional Liverpool, and is a foster carer alongside her husband Paul, having fostered seven children since 2019. Jo has a positive impact across the region and is committed to serving others and giving opportunities, through mentoring, coaching, or fostering.

Kate Martinez – Sefton Park Palm House

Kate Martinez is Head of External Relations at the Sefton Park Palm House. She works passionately to deliver a community programme for the benefit of the people of Liverpool and all the visitors to the Sefton Park Palm House. She has project managed a series of capital projects and engagement activities. Kate is creative, highly engaged and people centred. She seeks opportunities for growth and development and thoroughly believes in those around her. An excellent leader, public speaker, and colleague. Kate provides opportunities for people to gather together in one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings. Kate has been building health partnerships and providing links for the people of Liverpool to share their stories and come together. Kate has carved a path for herself by responding, co-producing and facilitating events. Smiley, energetic and with such a positive can-do attitude, Kate is truly talented at providing opportunities for people to join together.

Katie Gordon-Orr – Fighting to be Heard

Katie Gordon-Orr is a tireless campaigner for individuals with secondary breast cancer and is Chair of the Fighting to be Heard charity, which she set up in 2021 along with 19 other women. Fighting to be Heard was founded to create a platform for those facing secondary breast cancer to be heard and to provide financial support and friendship to each other. Katie has been a driving force behind getting the charity off the ground, tapping into her extensive network to galvanise support from all across the UK and is in the process of organising a book which will tell the stories of each of the women involved in the charity, which will be sold to raise money for the charity.

Kiera Vogel – Senate Group

Kiera Vogel is the MD at Senate Group, a Liverpool-based Mechanical and Electrical company situated in the heart of the city. Kiera is a passionate person who champions everyone in her reach. She is the sole owner of the business and has spent the last eight years building the business up to the successful business it is today. The growth of the business over the last eight years has been impressive and has seen turnover increase by 340% in that time (£4m increasing to £14m). Kiera also sees it as her challenge to change attitudes towards women in construction, as well as creating pathways in the business and outside to grow and develop. As a home-grown Liverpudlian, Kiera is passionate about the city she grew up in and works closely with a number of local charities giving her input and experience for free to ensure those who need career help and guidance are able to receive it.

Leanne Hobin – Merseyside Police & St Helens Bees Netball Club

​​Leanne Hobin has delivered pioneering work in Merseyside Police to establish a peer support group for baby loss and has founded the St Helens Bees Netball Club, which has not only provided a platform for young girls to excel in sports but also fostered a community built on solidarity and empowerment. Under her leadership, the club has flourished, allowing personal growth and resilience in its members while also making significant contributions to the broader community through charitable initiatives. Described as an “unstoppable force” Leanne’s tireless dedication, coupled with her vision for the future, exemplifies her unwavering commitment to effecting positive change and empowering the next generation of female leaders both on and off the court.

Lynne Akwei-Howe – Crea8ing Community

Lynne Akwei-Howe is the Founder and CEO of Crea8ing Community, a youth employability service that has swiftly expanded to wraparound support helping vulnerable families experiencing issues with mental health, SEND, bullying, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Her vision is to address systemic causes and not isolated symptoms using a trauma-informed holistic approach which meant growing multi-faceted support services, which influenced community provision across Wirral and Merseyside. Crea8ing Community offers a wide range of professional and community mental health training programmes, coaching, parenting and peer support, wellbeing activities and resources, as well as professional therapeutic support to children and parents, with many becoming volunteers or employees. Under Lynne’s stewardship the organisation has achieved exponential growth, evolving from a grassroots self-funded solo act to a thriving organisation on the Wirral, with +£500k p.a. in funding and a dedicated team of 22 employees and 30 active volunteers, all in under five years.

Merfat Musleh –  Savera UK

Merfat Musleh is an ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices specialist team coordinator at Savera UK, a charity working to end these issues, as well as a powerful advocate for survivors and those at risk, regularly going above and beyond for them. In the last year Merfat has led her team – a group of young women – with passion and tenacity. Together they have helped 178 clients, responded to 495 calls to the helpline and spent 2,292 hours working to safeguard those experiencing HBA and harmful practices. Outside of her professional role she is passionate about battling racism and works to foster an environment of understanding and dialogue in her local community. Merfat has achieved this success despite battling a long-term, undiagnosed illness throughout childhood, being out of school for a long time. Merfat got her own education back on track and was the first person in her family to graduate from university.

Paula Thompson – Spectrum Connect CIO

Paula Thompson is the Founder of Spectrum Connect CIO. In despair at the dismal state of services available for her son with autism that would contribute to his development and life-long learning, Paula came to the realisation that if she wanted high quality interaction for him, to give him the best possible quality of life, she was going to have to create it herself, so Spectrum Connect was born. She has developed an organisation that belongs to the people who are part of it and that is shaped to fit them, where previously they were expected to fit into an existing structure. Her strength, passion and commitment to make life better for adults with autism is admirable. Volunteering tirelessly to give adults with autism opportunities to make friends, build confidence and self-esteem and look at what matters to them as individuals. She has devoted herself to creating a better life not only for her own son but for others with autism too.

Serena Silcock-Prince – Silcock Leisure Group

Serena Silcock-Prince is the Operations Manager for Silcock Leisure Group, which employs around 80 employees at Silcock’s Funland, Silcock’s Carousel and Silcock’s Pier Family Restaurant. The business has been a significant part of Southport’s tourism offer for generations, attracting countless visitors to the resort. Serena has also used her position in business to support her community, charities and individuals while upholding the Silcock family traditions. Serena is a force of nature, compassionate, committed to improving the lives of people in her community and a true ambassador for women.

Tracey Roberts – The Jade L Roberts Project

Tracey Roberts is the founder of the Jade L Roberts project in Tuebrook, which supports men and women who are in suicidal crisis and struggling with their mental health, as well as those who have lost loved ones to suicide. The project came from the darkest time in her life when she lost her beautiful daughter, Jade. Tracey wants to make sure that no family should have to go through what her family did. In the organisation’s first year, more than 80 suicide preventions were made – representing 80 people who have been made safe and felt listened to. The project is creating a lasting legacy for Jade and her two sons, who Tracey is now raising.

Image caption: Top row, L-R: Tracey Roberts, Merfat Musleh, Emily McChrystal, Donna Scully, Jayne Hughes. Second row, L-R: Serena Silcock-Prince, Kate Martinez, Jen Deeney, Lynne Akwei Howe, Adele Connah. Third row L-R, Jacqui McAssey, Leanne Hobin, Amanda Unsworth, Ema Quinn, Abby Younis. Bottom row, L-R: Paula Thompson, Kiera Vogel, Claire Morgans, Katie Gordon-Orr, Jo Henney


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