Woman of Year Title Tops Great Year for Signing Choir Head; Outstanding Achievements Were Recognised Again at the Daily Post Women of the Year Awards, as Jane Haase Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Jane Haase

A NURSERY nurse who founded and co-ordinates the Liverpool Signing Choir was named the Daily Post's Merseyside Woman of the Year 2010.

It tops a remarkable year for Catherine Hegarty who just last month was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

The mother-of-three and grandmother -of-two was appointed an MBE for services to special needs education. s s s

Catherine received her award, voted for by Daily Post readers, at a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool One. She was named a winner in the Learning category but also scooped the ultimate prize after receiving almost 1,000 votes from the public.

Catherine, 50, said: "I am overwhelmed. Hopefully getting Merseyside Woman of the Year will help me achieve my next goal of putting the Liverpool Signing Choir in the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2012. That would be unbelievable, it would be a first."

A specialist nursery nurse in communication at Knotty Ash primary school, Catherine started the choir as an after-school club 10 years ago to help the children socialise out of class. It has gone from 12 members to more than 100 aged from six to 23.

She said: "I would like to thank all the people involved in the choir and their families for all their support. The young people of the choir are a credit to themselves, parents, families, schools, communities and the city of Liverpool. They have done wonders for the deaf community."

As well as a beautiful trophy Catherine received a pounds 300 voucher for David M Robinson Jewellers.

More than a dozen women were honoured from different walks of life from arts and culture to work in the community.

There were laughter and tears as host, the actress and comedienne Pauline Daniels, introduced the inspirational finalists and outlined their achievements at the event attended by more than 300 people.

The audience had certainly dressed to impress and there was a surprise prize of pounds 200 to spend with local designer to the stars Philip Armstrong Couture, for the most stylish lady on the day.

A Special Award was presented to Pauline Pendleton from north Merseyside, for her campaign against domestic violence.

In 2000 she founded Voice for Change Domestic Violence Support which became a charity two years later.

It is now a well-established and respected service supporting victims of domestic violence and working closely with public and voluntary agencies. Pauline has never received payment and continues to inspire her team of volunteers.

Jewellery designer Benna Harry, who counts Kate Moss and Coleen Rooney amongst her clients, was named Newcomer of the Year; Liverpool Blues singer Connie Lush took the award for Performing Arts and gallery owner Ceri Hand won in the Arts and Culture section.

Super foster mum Jill Bennett, 63, who with her husband has been giving children a home for 27 years, was recognised in the Caring category and told the audience it is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

"Seeing those children you have looked after grow up and go on to have families of their own is just the best thing," she said. …