2023 Winner – Cheshire Woman of the Year
Ije McDougall is a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to helping others. She set up a charity called The Kairos Initiative which has made a real difference to the lives of many people around the world. As a British Nigerian who originates from the North East of Nigeria, Ije has first hand knowledge of the activities and consequences of extremists and extremism. The Kairos Initiative, was set up to support victims of insurgency in Nigeria. Through her charity, she has provided apprenticeships to young people, helping them gain valuable skills and experience. She has equipped them to start their own businesses and given them the opportunity to make a real difference. Ije has also provided clean drinking water to over ten thousand people, renovated a maternity ward, fed an orphanage, and clothed street kids. She has also connected children in need with families in the UK who have provided them with Christmas presents. These are just a few examples of the work she has done for those who are most in need.
Ije has a unique perspective and lived experiences as an immigrant woman and mixed with her BBC training and HR background, she has an insight into the lives of some of the most vulnerable people. She moved from a troubled part of Nigeria to the UK where she has succeeded in many areas. Having beaten the odds herself, Ije is well versed in the challenges that face people of minority in the UK. As a result, she speaks on some of the issues faced by minority groups in the UK. Her talk on racial equality was featured on the Black Lives Matter Website and she was nominated for the National Diversity Awards as a positive role model.
Ije is a Magistrate, an HR/employment law expert and an author. Her first book, born out of life experiences as a Nigerian mother in the UK is called “Surviving 0 to 5 years old #Mumofgirls”. One of her most popular talks, titled “Who Are You?” is being published as a personal workbook.
While charting her way through life in the UK, she has faced questions of identity and self-realisation. She has said she has battled self-doubt and imposter syndrome and understands how limiting they can be. She has overcome huge challenges to become a successful professional and role model. She now uses her experience, and skills to make the world a better place for many people here in the UK and her birth country, Nigeria.
Guest Speaker – Helen Newlove
Helen Newlove was Cheshire Woman of the Year in 2009. She was nominated for her inspirational courage following the murder of her husband, Garry, in 2007. Gary was brutally attacked outside their home in Warrington by a gang of teenagers, in front of their three young daughters. He had confronted the teenagers who were vandalising Helen’s car, and three youths were sentenced to life imprisonment for his murder.
Helen vowed that Garry would not be known as a murder statistic. And so with great support from Warrington Wolves Foundation, Helen with her daughters, Zoe, Danielle and Amy, she set up the Newlove Warrington Foundation. The aim of the foundation was to work with communities to inspire and motivate people to enrich their lives and provide opportunities for positive interaction within communities. She has worked tirelessly since then to be the voice of victims. She speaks out as someone whose life has been so dramatically impacted by the actions of a group of teenagers.
Helen’s outstanding achievements were recognised nationally, and she was made The Baroness Newlove of Warrington in 2010. She went on to become the Victims Commissioner – a role to which she brought empathy and understanding. She understands how to talk to victims, and she cares passionately about how the system treats them. Helen commented “I am just an ordinary woman, propelled into high profile by a set of horrifying circumstances which I wish with all my heart had never occurred”
2023 Special Awards
Janet Fletcher received a special Professional Achievements Award for outstanding achievements and role model in Engineering and STEM industry
Deborah Lawson received a Life Time Achievement Award for working tirelessly to create a more accessible and inclusive world
Nominees of 2023 and their guests