Scotland’s glitterati were out in force today [Sunday, 17 March 2013] to celebrate the women who have made a remarkable impact on Scottish society, as Katherine Grainger CBE was named Action for Children Scotland’s Woman of Influence 2013.
Each year the Woman of Influence Awards, in support of Action for Children Scotland, recognise the country’s top women in business; arts and media; politics and law; education and health; and sport. This year’s illustrious shortlist also included: Lady Susan Rice CBE, Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland; Sandy Brindley, the National Coordinator for Rape Crisis in Scotland; Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and television journalist, Kirsty Wark.
However, it was rower Katherine Grainger who scoped the title of Woman of Influence 2013. Last year, along with partner Anna Watkins, Katherine won the gold medal in the double sculls event at the London Olympics. She is also a three-time Olympic silver medallist and six-time World Champion.
In 2012 Katherine was chosen as one of the five athlete ambassadors for promoting the key messages of Team GB and, following her Olympic win, was awarded a CBE.
Originally from Glasgow, she studied Law at the University of Edinburgh before achieving an MPhil in Medical Law and Medical Ethics from the University of Glasgow. She is now close to completing a PhD in homicide at King’s College, University of London.
Speaking at the event, Katherine said: “Winning this award is a wonderful honour. I don’t think any of the Olympic athletes realised just how huge an impact sport would have last year and I have seen how the Olympics inspired, motivated and moved people of all ages and backgrounds from all over the country. I feel very lucky to have been able to have a positive influence on people from the sport I do and the charities I have the privilege of working with. So winning an award for work that I feel is an honour to do is an extra special bonus!”
The Community Award – which is presented to a young woman who has been helped by the charity to overcome difficulties and turn her life around – was this year awarded to 18-year-old Nicole Quinn, who beat the statistical odds by winning a place in further education having spent time in care.
When she was 13, Nicole spent a year in foster care with her younger sister. She continued to attend school but, like the huge majority of children who have been in care, she left early at 15. According to the latest Scottish Government report, 88% of children who have spent time in care leave school at 16 or younger, compared to only 34% of all school children.1
Over the last year, Nicole has been helped by Action for Children Scotland’s Transitions service, which provides intensive one-to-one counselling and mentoring to help young people overcome the difficulties that they often experience moving onto further education after time in care.
Nicole currently studies Childcare and Social Care at John Wheatley College and she hopes eventually to go to University to study psychology and become a psychologist or counsellor specialising in care.
Held at The Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, the Woman of Influence Awards was hosted by comedian Fred MacAulay – and featured stunning live performances from Ballet West and The Bluebells.
Jo Mickel, Chair of the Woman of Influence Committee, said: “Woman of Influence is now firmly on Scotland’s social calendar. The event aims to raise vital funds for Action for Children Scotland, whilst recognising the women who have achieved greatness in their chosen field.
“Katherine Grainger is such a deserving winner. She not only provides inspiration through her incredible sporting achievements, but is also testament to why we should never give up on our ultimate dream and settle for second best.
“While Nicole Quinn, this year’s Community Winner, embodies how Action for Children Scotland changes the lives of children and young people every day.”
Carol Iddon, Director of children’s services at Action for Children UK North, added: “The Woman of Influence Awards recognise and celebrate the women who have had an extraordinary impact on Scottish society, whilst raising vital funds to help some of the country’s most vulnerable children and young people.
“I would like to congratulate both Katherine and Nicole on being named Action for Children Scotland’s Women of Influence for 2013. They come from very different backgrounds and lead very different lives, yet both women have made an important impact on society and serve as wonderful role models for the young people we support.”
Organised by a volunteer committee of dynamic Scottish women, the Awards have raised over £890,000 since the inaugural event in 2001. The money has gone towards supporting some of the country’s most vulnerable and excluded children and young people in over 75 projects throughout Scotland.
Notes to editors
About Action for Children
- Action for Children Scotland is a charity that supports and speaks out for the UK’s most vulnerable and neglected children and young people, for as long as it takes to transform their lives. We work directly with 5,000 children, young people, parents and carers in Scotland each year and run 75 services across the country;
- Children are at the centre of everything Action for Children Scotland does. For more information on our work, please visit our website at www.actionforchildren.org.uk.
Further information on the Woman of Influence Awards
- Nominees for the Action for Children Scotland Woman of Influence Award are put forward by the committee for the event and the winner is selected by a panel of judges – which this year includes Fred MacAulay, previous winner Olivia Giles and representatives from Action for Children Scotland. The winner receives a unique award designed by Paul Hodgkiss.
- Previous Women of Influence have included: feminist historian and activist, Dr Lesley Orr, TV Presenter, Lorraine Kelly; Elaine C Smith, actress and comedienne; Ann Gloag, Stagecoach founder and philanthropist; Helen Liddell, Scotland’s first female Secretary of State; Olivia Giles, Motivational Speaker and Charity Campaigner; author JK Rowling; musician Nicola Benedetti and Helena Kennedy QC.