Friday, November 04, 2005

Woman of the Year Awards

The 2005 British Woman of the Year Awards were held at a lavish luncheon and ceremony at London's Guildhall on Thursday (2nd November). The organisers of these prestigious awards, founded in 1955 by Lady Antonia Lothian OBE, must be wondering about the adage 'there's no such thing as bad publicity'. Leading the headlines surrounding the event was Rebekah Wade, editor of the national tabloid newspaper The Sun, who was unable to attend the event after being arrested by police in connection with an alleged assault on her husband. The chair of the organising committee for the awards luncheon, Eleanor Angel, must have been reconsidering her pre-event quote that it was to be "the noisiest event of the year". Adding to the publicity was the news that two of the invitees pulled out of the ceremony in a political protest. Claire and Catherine McCartney, sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney, were due to receive an outstanding achievement award in recognition of their campaign for justice for their brother. However, the sisters refused to attend the ceremony when they discovered - hours before the event - that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was also appearing to accept a lifetime achievement award. The sisters said: "Our campaign is one of justice and as an Irish republican family we feel we cannot share a platform with a former Prime Minister who inflicted injuries on our country." It was left to the event compere, comedienne and writer Sandi Toksvig, to offer a diplomatic explantion of the snub. Judging for the awards was conducted by a panel of 57 women from 40 different professions. It remains to be seen whether the publicity surrounding the 50th anniversary Women of the Year Awards will diminish, or promote, these worthwhile honours.