Honoured Guests and Speakers
Over the years, the Cheshire Woman Award has hosted a number of Honoured Guests and Speakers. Below is a list of past speakers that will be updated each year to accommodate the wonderful women who take the time out of their schedules to acknowledge our winners.
Esther Rantzen CBE
Esther Rantzen was born in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire and graduated from Somerville College Oxford with a degree in English. She joined the BBC as a sound effects assistant in radio. She then became a researcher in television and in 1968 became a researcher/reporter for Bernard Braden’s consumer programme “Braden’s Week”.
When Bernard Braden went back to Canada in 1973 Esther became the producer/presenter of the consumer programme “That’s Life!” which ran for 21 year and drew audiences of over 18 million. It achieved fame (and notoriety) for its talking dogs, Jobsworth Awards and also campaigns on behalf of abused children, organ transplants, safe playgrounds, hospital patients and to provide justice for consumers. She also created the documentary series “The Big Time” which discovered singer Sheena Easton. She invented the Children of Courage segment of Children in Need, also “Hearts of Gold” which ran for seven years honouring unsung heroes and heroines.
For seven years she presented her daily talk show “Esther” on BBC2, and “That’s Esther” on ITV (with co-presenters Lara Masters and Heather Mills). She has made a number of pioneering programmes on child birth, mental health, drug abuse and child abuse (in the campaigning series of programmes “Childwatch”). In 1986 she invented the concept of ChildLine (the children’s helpline which was launched on “Childwatch”) which she then chaired for twenty years. She is currently President of ChildLine, is a trained volunteer counsellor and is a Trustee of the NSPCC since its merger with ChildLine in 2005. She is a Patron of a number of other charities including the Red Balloon to recover bullied children. She is President of the Association of Young People with ME, which she helped to found.
She has received a number of awards including the OBE for services to broadcasting and the CBE for services to children. She received the Royal Television Society’s Special Judges’ Award for Journalism and was received into their Hall of Fame. In addition she received the Dimbleby award from BAFTA (the first woman to receive it), the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Film and Television and the Snowdon award for services to disabled people. She has 5 honorary doctorates and has been made an honorary Fellow of Somerville College. She has appeared in “Strictly Come Dancing” for the BBC and “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” for ITV. Recently she stood at the 2010 General Election as an Independent candidate for Luton South.
In 2011 she published her book “Running Out of Tears” (The Robson Press) to celebrate ChildLine’s 25th Anniversary.
Although she’s originally from Glasgow and trained at RADA, where she won the Emile Littler Award, Brigit has lived in Cheshire for many years. Now happily settled in Broadbottom, she hasn’t lost touch with her friends in Mellor where she once lived. She is still president of the Mellor March which has been going for twenty years. It’s a twelve-mile walk of the Mellor boundary and has raised huge sums of money for charity – mainly cancer charities. Brought up in a musical family, Brigit is an accomplished cellist and tries to practice every day.
Some of Brigit’s recent theatre roles in the North West include: Leontina in The Triumph Of Love for the Royal Exchange, Manchester; Gertrude in Hamlet for the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Kate Keller in All My Sons; Esme Allen in Amy’s View for the Library Theatre, Manchester; Beatrice Harrison in The Cello And The Nightingale at Theatre Royal, York; Queen Elizabeth II and Coral Brown in Single Spies for the West Yorkshire Playhouse; Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest for The Royal Exchange, Manchester; Little Murders and The Comedy of Errors for The Royal Exchange, Manchester; The Price and Tom and Viv for the Library Theatre, Manchester; Several national tours including The Maintenance Man, You Must Be The Husband and My Fat Friend.
On television Brigit is probably best known as Thelma from Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads for the B.B.C. Her extensive television work covers five series playing Francine Pratt in Playing the Field for Tiger Aspect; two series of Tom, Dick and Harriet for Thames Television; two series of The Practice for Granada Television; two series of Sharon and Elsie for the B.B.C. But her favourite role was in Playing the Field opposite the wonderful Ricky Tomlinson. Brigit played his wife and says that she was such a horrid person to play but great fun. She played a small role in Coronation Street as Ken Barlow’s date Babs Fanshawe, which she says was fun.
Brigit has also played Thelma in a feature film of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads for E.M.I.; Stanley’s Vision a Channel 4 film and Kay Mellor’s film Fanny and Elvis. Brigit also works extensively in radio.
Family is very important to Brigit and she’s most proud of her two children. Her son Ben is an accomplished engineer and her daughter Zoe is writing a screenplay as well as a play with roles for them both. Brigit and Zoe have performed together before in a Studio production at The National.
Louise presents Breakfast on BBC One, the UK’s most watched Breakfast programme. She is also a guest presenter on BBC Radio Five Live and a reporter on The One Show on BBC One. Before joining Breakfast full-time in April 2012, Louise was one of the BBC News Channel’s main presenters and also regularly presented the BBC One O’Clock News.
Away from news Louise has presented five series of Missing Live, her own day-time series, commended in Parliament for its work re-uniting families. She has also presented five series of Real Rescues on BBC One. She is an ambassador for the BBC’s Share Take Care campaign to improve internet safety for parents and children.
In 2009 Louise was one of 12 celebrities who took part in the BBC’s “Around the World in 80 Days”. She travelled from Mongolia to Los Angeles with BBC Breakfast co-presenter Bill Turnbull to raise money for Children in Need.
She studied Spanish at St Andrews University and then went on to do a post-graduate diploma in Radio Journalism at the London College of Printing.
She is married with two daughters and lives in Cheshire.
Louise Martin is the Archivist and Records Manager for the Eaton Estate. She started working at Eaton in 2008 and in the last 13 years, has worked at the Liverpool, Staffordshire and Cheshire Record Offices.
At Eaton she runs the modern records management system for the estate and deals with the historic archive collections which date from the 12th century up to the present day.
Her work involves reviewing modern records created by the organisation, cataloguing new accessions to the archive collection and answering enquiries from colleagues and members of the public.