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Event Report: Women in Defence UK Awards Dinner 2019

Last week’s Women in Defence UK Awards Dinner was fantastic. The feeling in the room was electric, with exceptionally engaged attendees, and our finalists’ and winners’ stories left us feeling awed and inspired. Air Marshal Sue Gray presented the awards at a ceremony at The Guildhall, London, to the winners of each of the 10 categories and an overall award for Woman of the Year.

Following a splendid sparkling wine reception, courtesy of AECOM, we were called to dinner from

a bugler from the Band of Welsh Guards.

Liz Bonnin, the evening’s compere, introduced PA Consulting’s Alan Lewis and the inspiring Michelle Partington, 2018’s Woman of the Year, who discussed Michelle’s impressive story and what being Woman of the Year 2018 had meant to her. We then heard about the recently launched Women in Defence Charter from Airbus’s Sophie Thomas, DE&S’s Morag Stuart and our very own Angela Owen before tucking into a 3-course feast. Our bellies deliciously full, we turned to the much-awaited awards ceremony.

The standard of finalists and winners was extremely impressive. Huge congratulations to Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Ruth Guest (Royal Navy) who won the Inspirational Award; Wing Commander Toni-Jane Hoare (Royal Air Force) who won the Most Collaborative Award; Warrant Officer Class 2 Kay Howells (Army) who won the Special Award; April Wiles (BAE Systems) who won the Emerging Talent Award; Anne Kenyon (Rolls Royce) who won the Innovation Award; Chief Technician Paula Cil (Royal Air Force) who won the Unsung Heroines Award; Jeanette Pope (BAE Systems) who won the Promotion of Gender Balance Award; the EU Exit Virtual Team (Ministry of Defence) who won the Inclusive Teamwork Award; and STARRSHIP (Royal Air Force, Rolls Royce, Royal Air Forces Association) who won the STEM in Defence Award.

This year’s Woman of the Year Award went to the remarkable winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award, Phillippa Spencer. Phillippa was nominated for over 17 years of service at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. A polymath, she has applied mathematical and statistical thinking across a wide range of technical domains including cyber, artificial intelligence, data fusion, chemistry and biology. This year Phillippa was awarded a patent for her method of interrogating mixtures of nucleic acids by short tandem repeat analysis, complementing her other patents including for the pre-symptomatic diagnosis of sepsis. Phillippa received a standing ovation when she received her award.

We left the evening exhausted, moved and inspired. Now… onto planning the 2020 Awards!

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