You nominated hundreds of inspirational women for the inaugural IMAGE Women of the Year Awards, in partnership with Tesco finest*. Our judges had the difficult job of whittling it down to the below shortlist. Congratulations to all the worthy nominees, and a huge thank you to everyone who submitted their everyday heroes. We look forward to celebrating inspirational women on December 10.
Our inaugural IMAGE Women of the Year Awards, in partnership with Tesco finest*, celebrates the inspiring women who do extraordinary things, making a positive impact on their family, friends, colleagues and community.
These everyday heroes always put others first, but never look for recognition for doing so. They are women who raise money for local issues; who give up their free time to care for others; who selflessly help out in the community. They come from all walks of life, and make a huge difference in their workplace, to their family and friends, the environment, politics, arts, and sports.
Join us at a five-star event at the Westbury Hotel on December 10 to celebrate these inspiring women across five categories, with judges Lizzie Gore-Grimes (IMAGE editor-in-chief); James Kavanagh (influencer and cookbook author) and Georgie Crawford (broadcaster on 98FM), as well as our awards MC, Miriam O'Callaghan.
Broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan will host the IMAGE Women of the Year Awards, brought to you by Tesco finest*. Photo: RTE
Here is the shortlist for the IMAGE Women of the Year Awards, brought to you by Tesco finest*:
Grandmother Noeline Power was put forward by her granddaughter Rachael because "she puts everyone before herself". Rachael says, "My nanny calls herself retired, but in reality, she's far from it. She works tirelessly fundraising for our local hospice, organising coffee mornings every few weeks, which have raised a substantial amount of money over the years. The Tramore Hospice Support Group was recognised as a 'National Hospice Hero' at the #HostTheHost awards in Bewley's on Grafton Street last month, and my nanny played a massive role in this.
"In addition to this, she is the President of the ICA's Waterford Federation, which is something that takes up a huge amount of her time. From knitting county colour socks for rear view mirrors (and donating all of the money raised), to making sure any family going through a tough time has a slab of freshly baked lemon, coffee or apple cake on their table, my nanny is someone that goes above and beyond for everyone, never putting herself first.
"Everyone in Tramore knows her, and I find myself regularly getting a random text from someone I barely know telling me of something nice my nanny did for them. She's an absolute inspiration and I'm proud to call her my nanny every single day."
Suzanne Burke created a Facebook page called 'Mas on a Mission' so women could have a space where they could seek advice from other women on anything from parenting to mental health. The network of women who joined the group offer support, as well as laughter and sometimes tears. A friend who put Suzanne forward said, "Suzanne had a wonderful, heartwarming idea to make a toy appeal for the thousands of children suffering homelessness in Ireland, and with the appeal getting such a huge response, the thousands of women on the page set up a GoFundMe account with a target of €2,000. It exceeded what everyone expected and delivery reached a massive €20,000. There are thousands of suffering parents and children who are going to have an amazing Christmas morning, and it would not have happened if it weren't for the golden heart Suzanne Burke has with creating a brilliant social media page which led to unbelievable generosity."
Liz Webster lost a much-loved son to addiction and, despite her grief, works tirelessly and without pay to feed the homeless several nights a week in Dublin's inner city. Liz collects food, bedding, clothes and toiletries and transports them to the areas that need them most. She cooks — at her own expense — vast quantities of food so that people in hostels and on the streets can get a hot meal several nights a week from the tables where she sets up on North Earl Street in Dublin.
A friend who put Liz forward says, "If you meet Liz, you cannot be unaffected by her genuine empathy and sense of fun, her warmth, her generosity and her towering strength. Despite her own personal heartache, she continues to campaign and advocate for the most vulnerable people trapped in the homeless cycle. She works tirelessly out of her own home to provide as much as she can and is out in all weathers supporting people on the margins and on the streets.
"Liz is a formidable mother, grandmother, neighbour, friend and social activist who inspires others to contribute and help, creating awareness and a sense of empathy for people who are at the lowest level of social inclusion."
Marion is "truly awesome" say her friends. "She always finds time to help others, especially the elderly. She was collecting funds for the Irish Cancer Society last week and is also a volunteer driver for them and her local Meals on Wheels, despite retiring four years ago after 35 years as a special needs teacher.
"She's a super mum to four and granny to two. She's a gem of a neighbour and friend."
Leona set up Survivor Support Anonymous, a 12-step peer-led support group for survivors of abuse to heal and recover from their trauma. Leona is an "an amazing woman and mother" says the friend who submitted her for the Courage Award. Leona waived her right to anonymity when her rapist was sentenced to 17 years in 2018. Leona gave a powerful victim impact statement in court that day, and told her abuser that he "did not win". She now campaigns tirelessly for sexual survivor rights with her 12-step sexual survivors programme.
Nurse Aoife stopped a bus rolling through red lights on O'Connell Street after the bus driver suffered a heart attack. After bringing the bus to a halt, she began CPR on the driver until the emergency services arrived. A friend who put Aoife forward says, "Not only did her actions show she was calm, collected and a complete professional, she has subsequently used her positive new fame to encourage people to learn first aid training so that they too can react in an emergency situation — an inspiration! She deserves all the accolades, fame and positive feedback that she is getting. She has encouraged me to renew my first aid training taken a few years ago."
Q102 staffer Venetia lost her husband Martin suddenly to cancer last year. It was a huge shock for her and their friends. She has three young sons. She has set up a podcast called Grief Encounters with Sasha Hamrogue. A friend who put her forward says, "She has continued to impress me and others with her bravery and honesty about Martin's death. It is not easy — her grief is palpable, but she battles on to keep herself busy for her sanity and for the welfare of her children."
Rhona is an award-winning make-up artist and mum of three kids, who all have disabilities. She is a huge advocate for Down syndrome, autism and Asperger's syndrome awareness. A friend who submitted her for the Courage Awards, says, "On her Facebook and Instagram accounts, she blogs their daily lives and shares the good and the hard bits in such a positive manner. She is so inspiring to so many new mums and is not afraid to show the reality of life as a special needs mum.
"But in between all of this, she has created many events for children in Our Lady's Hospital's heart centre – where her daughter Molly had two open heart surgeries – including a day to a salon in a limo for some of the transplant patients; a thank you frame with 72 professional photos of patients to thank the staff; a fundraising tattooathon where 60 parents chose Down syndrome-inspired tattoos to honour their children.
"She is currently working on a huge initiative behind the scenes to create special needs-friendly rooms and facilities in large chains of hotels. She has helped so many parents (taking calls from all over the world at any time day or night to support new mums) and created so much awareness for disability in Ireland and should be acknowledged for it.
"Her daughter Molly is breaking barriers in Ireland by being the first Down syndrome model signed to Andrea Roche Agency and the Irish Ambassador for Nothing Down, a worldwide organisation for Down syndrome."
Kirsti is a mum-of-one who, despite falling on hard times recently, gets up and shows up everyday. Her friend who put her forward says, "A mum to a beautiful son, working full time in Tallaght Hospital with a dream to become a fitness model. Fitness is a huge part of her life. I helped her on her journey to this and throughout the year noticed that things were getting increasingly tough for her — she became homeless and was living in emergency accommodation, but she still managed to keep her job, bring her son to school everyday and keep up her fitness.
"She has taken what some people would consider a nightmare and powered on to achieve her dream this year with every obstacle standing in her way. She is incredible."
Caitriona has devoted her life to feeding the hungry in Cork, running Cork Penny Dinners. She works 365 days a year and manages to serve over 2,000 hot meals every day. She is constantly fundraising to ensure every hungry person including families have at the very least a decent meal each day. She caters to everyone — no one is turned away. A friend who put her forward says, "Homelessness is a huge problem in Cork, and Caitriona has seen it first hand. She is presently involved in building the first ever self-contained units, funded by charity events and donations.
"She is truly a remarkable lady — selfless, loving, thoughtful, intelligent, caring — and she is rarely seen without her apron, potato in one hand and peeler in the other.
"This wonderful lady never stops and her devotion and work at Cork Penny Dinners has helped raise awareness within the wider community. Her efforts have encouraged local businesses and their employees to support her by physically assisting in the kitchens, wash-up and dining areas."
Cliona is the founder of My Canine Companion (MCC), which provides service dogs for children living with autism. A friend who put her forward says, "She has changed the lives of so many people all over Ireland, giving families independence, confidence and a bit of normality in the crazy world they live in.
"Everything that Cliona does for MCC is done through fundraising and charitable donations. She works tirelessly to make sure families like ours get the help and support they need. Cliona has changed my little boy's life, and for that I will be forever grateful.
"After being matched with his service dog Willow, Riley ditched his buggy and is now able to walk independently, and we can do things we could never have imagined before. He has a new lease of life, and it is all down to MCC. Cliona is an amazing mum to three girls, and still puts our kids as a major priority in her life. She is a huge support, a friend, and one of the most amazing people I know, and she never expects any recognition for her work."
Nicole is the CEO of Alex’s Adventure, an initiative set up to educate young people in Ireland of the effects drugs can have on not just their lives, but the lives of those around them. Nicole's mum Irene put her forward, and says, "After my son Alex passed away after taking the NBOMe drug, Nicole gave up her dream of becoming a marine engineer and came home to help me, but she never went back. Instead, Nicole set out to change the lives of others.
"She has dedicated her life to this and has been so successful. She doesn’t really see how wonderful she is, and she is the most humble person I know — I think this award would really make her see how much we all value her work and her as a role model in Ireland."
Cara is a mum-of-two and advocate for breastfeeding, among other causes, in Northern Ireland. She runs baby weaning classes across Northern Ireland and is a board member of Breastival, an initiative working to further normalise breastfeeding. Cara also works with GLOW NI, a Belfast charity that empowers women with life skills to increase their confidence and self-esteem.
Put forward by her husband, he says, "Cara is one of the most selfless women you could meet. She gives her all to everything she does, whether it’s being a mother, a charity spokesperson or a breastfeeding advocate.
"I believe she deserves special recognition because she works tirelessly for causes across Ireland. Her work as a board member of Breastival, trying to normalise breastfeeding, and her work with GLOW NI, helping disadvantaged women, speaks volumes about her as a woman. She is always putting people first.
"She is in the early stages of launching Beauty Banks Ireland, designed to help end hygiene poverty across Ireland. She is a loving wife, mother and a true asset to Ireland. Giving her recognition for the work she does and will be doing with the Beauty Banks will not only give her a boost, but also bring attention to causes in Ireland that desperately need people’s attention."
Eileen Keane Haly
Eileen is passionate about helping teenagers navigate the challenges of their formative years. She set up her business, Jumpstart Your Confidence, when as a mother of four teenager girls, she identified a lack of support resources available to teenagers, their parents and their schools. Eileen studied psychology as a mature student, then went on to qualify as a life and parent coach. She now works with over 1,500 teenagers every school year, providing workshops aimed at helping with confidence-building, positive self-esteem, positive friendships and relationships, choices and confidence, and social, medical and bullying awareness. A friend that put her forward says, "Eileen is also constantly campaigning for better resources for teenagers in distress. She is an incredibly hard worker and extremely dedicated to her chosen profession."
FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR
Sharon has suffered the loss of both parents, pushed through anxiety and other challenges and still manages to fundraise for others in their time of need. A friend who put her forward says, "She deserves to be recognised for the amount of fundraising she does, including that for Jade McCann, an Irish beauty influencer who passed away at the age of 24 last October. In spite of – or propelled by – her own personal circumstances, she is a force to be reckoned with. As soon as you meet her, you are part of her network and in turn a supporter for her many charitable causes.
"I often wonder how or where she finds her drive and energy. She is a non-stop fundraising machine. As soon as she's finished driving one charity event, she is on to the next, often with fundraising activities running simultaneously. She is really and truly an inspiration. She puts the rest of us to shame. I am in awe of her determination and compassion."
Nicola has raised thousands for sick children in Drogheda and beyond who need surgery, rehabilitation and so on. A friend who put her forward says, "She asks for nothing in return. She is truly one of a kind and it's about time she is recognised for all the brilliant things she has done and will continue to do. She is the hardest working woman I know – she does all this charity work while raising a family of her own so brilliantly. Without her love and dedication, we would be absolutely lost without her."
Christine's daughter put her forward. "Christine is my mother. She is 61 and had breast cancer 11 years ago. Since then, she has fundraised twice a year for the St Vincent's Hospital breast care department.
"She dresses up twice a year – at Easter, she dresses as the Easter Bunny and makes a lot of hampers of eggs, and she goes into the hospital and sells raffle tickets in the lobby, creating a fun atmosphere along the way; she also goes to the chemo room to give the patients little goodies, and to give them hope, as she too sat in the chair they were in.
"She does the same process at Halloween, dressing up each year. To date, she has raised €47,000 since her diagnosis 11 years ago. We are all very proud of her.
"She brings a lovely energy to the hospital, and all the doctors and patients and fundraising team enjoy her presence on the days. She buys all the prizes herself over the year with the help of her friend who supports her. Her unwavering support is to be commended, and I know she has made a real difference in the lives of breast cancer patients in St Vincent's."
Lexie is just 10-years-old, but has fundraising for homeless services since she was just six small. Her mum Lillian put her forward, and says, "Lexie has raised thousands of euro to buy much-needed supplies for lots of different charities. She is doing a toy appeal for the Christmas party organised by the North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis for children in emergency accommodation. There will be around 400 children at the party, and they put on a Christmas dinner and lots of fun activities plus a visit to Santa. Lexie has 150 presents so far and 50 selection boxes. This is her third year helping them out; she gets her school, Scoil Bhríde Edenderry, involved in the appeal. She won an award last year for Young Fundraiser of the Year at the Woman's Way and Pharmaton Children's Awards, and she is a finalist in the Volunteer Ireland Awards this month."
Anne is a breast cancer survivor who came up with a calendar idea to raise funds for breast cancer charities. A member of the support group Anne joined has put her forward, and says, "Over 31 ladies participated by bearing all, and our calendar was launched on October 11. Anne revealed her illness and journey to support and help other people within our community. Currently, we have 71 members, and roughly 10% have been affected by breast cancer. That is quite a high number in a small rural area. Anne is a lady of dignity, love and someone I'm so very proud of. She, in my opinion, is a fantastic role model, showing how her illness did not define her, and she has achieved so much."
CARER OF THE YEAR
A family member who put Jean forward says, "Jean has put aside everything for not just her kids, but her grandkids too. She has often come home after driving an hour each way to work, working a 12-hour shift at night as a psychiatric nurse, just to spend another hour making homemade pancakes and bread along with making five different lunches and making sure she has time to catch up with everyone.
"She always makes time to bring me and my kids to appointments, no matter what her shift is, and she does this without even batting an eyelid.
"My daughter has non-verbal autism, her youngest sons have Asperger's and ADHD, and she has four boys with central sleep apnoea. This is all just taken in her stride, and I would really love for her to see how special she really is."
Shannen is 22 and has taken on the role of foster mum and big sister to her five half-brothers and sister aged seven to 11. Her mum put her forward, and says, "She has gone from being a typical party-going girl to a brilliant role model, carer and loving 'parent' practically overnight, and doing so since May this year.
"I am so proud of her and what she is doing for the children. She has single-handedly turned their lives around. I am in awe of Shannen's goodness and kindness. She suffered terrible anxiety and PTSD from a car accident and has totally put everything to the back of her mind as well as putting her dreams on hold to take on this role.
"She is my special person of the month because it was only this month I really got to see what she was doing daily and what she was coping with. She is utterly fantastic."
Nitai helps women at a time of great need in their lives. She creates teddy bears from the clothes of children that have gone too soon to heaven, so parents can keep a keepsake of their child with them through their grief. A friend who put Nitai forward says, "It's a wonderful gift to give anyone who may have lost a child. She has four children, one whom is unfortunately sick, but she is the perfect carer and giver to her family. She deserves a night out and recognition."
Jane is a carer to two special needs children, one who is severely impacted. She is on the Parents' Association of her child's special needs school and she is also on the board. She is constantly baking and fundraising, and was in Leinster House recently, highlighting the plight of the special school her child attends all while being a full-time carer to a child who is nine-years-old, who needs 24/7 care in all aspects.