Inspiring women who make a difference to the York community are the subjects of a new exhibition in a unique city centre café.
Last year photographer Andrea Denniss asked members of the public to nominate women from all walks of life who would make good subjects for a series of portraits. Through her website, she received details of deserving teachers, sportswomen, charity workers, businesswomen, volunteers, family members and neighbours.
From the 15 nominations she chose seven for the Great Women Of York series. Now these pictures can be seen in the Spurriergate Centre.
Based in the church of St Michael’s on Spurriergate, the centre is a popular attraction for shoppers. For the next two weeks visitors to its upstairs café can enjoy the Great Women of York portraits.
Manager Alan Nicholls offered space for the exhibition. “One of the aims of the Spurriergate Centre is to embrace local community projects, wherever appropriate,” he said. “I was delighted to help with such a worthwhile venture to showcase Andrea’s talent and to help introduce the women she has photographed to a wider audience.”
Andrea, who runs Pink Lily Photography, said the women “do far more than most of us could consider doing and think nothing of it. Being in full time employment and still volunteering for numerous charity events was a common theme.
“The business ladies are all balancing a successful business and a family and doing it really well. I feel extremely privileged to have been introduced to them all.”
The Great Women of York
“Sharon has owned and run the Face Etc Medi Spa in York since 2004 and employs 17 people,” said Darren McCabe, who nominated Sharon.
“Previously Sharon worked as a registered general nurse and a registered mental health nurse and worked for a leading Harley Street surgery.
“Sharon embodies everything that is great about York. She is fun, ambitious, stylish and classic all at the same time.
“As well as running FaceEtc she also helps others out in their businesses, while also finding time to be a mum and grandmother.
“Sharon is one in a million and is one of life’s good eggs. She was also very inspirational to me and very helpful in my decision to set up in business.”
Nominated by Chantelle Geldart, who says: “Tammy Hobson is the founder of Mumpreneurs. She started her business as a single mum with two kids and has had an amazing life of rollercoasters.
“To earn a living she has done all sorts of things, from being in the army to making sandwiches in Morrisons. Her main aim in starting her business was to ensure her children had the best upbringing possible and would have a financially secure future.
“Now she helps other mums from all backgrounds in York, the UK and across the globe to achieve their dreams, build fantastic careers and develop themselves in every way possible. I have the pleasure of being one of those mums and will be eternally grateful to her for the rest of my life.
“She has the ability to see that special something in everyone and bring it out of them. Despite a very busy life she raises money for various charities, runs marathons, including one in Vienna, and always has time for a cup of tea with you and a chat.”
Annie was nominated by her brother Robert. “Annie is the inventor of Softpots and runs the Softpot Garden at Stonegate where she is introducing lots of people to the new craft of Softpot making. She has previously designed other products. Visit the garden and see for yourself and you’ll see why I think she deserves to a part of your project.
“Softpots are a unique concept, conceived by Annie ten years ago. They are fabric containers suitable for indoor and outdoor plants that are decorative, environmentally friendly and make creating a garden in virtually any space a possibility.
“Craft makers come from all over the world to learn how to make softpots and are inspired by Annie’s passion and the imaginative displays she has created herself.”
“Jeanette is a lovely, bubbly member of our team,” says Melanie Priest, who nominated her on behalf of the York Marriott Hotel. “Not only is she a popular member of staff, but she is also regularly mentioned in thank you letters and guest satisfaction surveys due to her outgoing and caring personality.
“When Jeanette is not hard at work as the assistant head of conference and events, she often takes the time to help and support local charities. She runs the Race for Life every year always making sure her lipstick is firmly on during the process!
“She also walks the St Leonard’s Hospice Midnight Walk with friends and family members and she acts as a steward at the Prostate Cancer 5k run in Rowntree Park, encouraging male members of staff to get involved in the run itself.
“Jeanette is also involved in the MacMillan Coffee Morning which is held at the hotel annually. She always dedicates her time to make sure that the event is a success and her enthusiasm means that she always manages to get other members of the York Marriott team to donate their time (or cakes!) to the cause.
“We all recognise Jeanette as a very charitable, dedicated and hard working woman in both work and personal circumstances, and hope that she will also be justly recognised as a Great York Woman.”
“Jo is an inspiration to all women out there!” says Rachel Armstrong, who nominated her. “A truly motivational fitness leader, who helps and supports women in York to achieve their fitness goals.
“She embraces mums who want to keep fit and have their babies with them at all times and welcomes both Mum and Baby into her classes. A true role model because Jo is a full-time mum herself to Oscar. Yet she has established her own fitness academy, is the director of Yumi Mummy Fitness and is a leading fitness assessor which means she is mentoring and bringing on new talent into an amazing industry that really does save lives!
Her mum Ingrid Sugden also put her forward. “Joanne is York born and bred,” she said. “As a youngster she swam for York City Baths Club and as an adult worked in some of the best known gyms in the York area.
“She is married to Richard Cadden, world champion Thai boxer. Both Jo and Rich have realised their dream of having their own gym in York and Jo dedicates herself into keeping other young mums and mums to be fit in her Yumi Mummy classes. As parents we are very proud of what Jo has achieved especially when Richard (Mr C) grabs most of the headlines!”
She was nominated by her daughter Alina. “Lisa is my amazing mum and she has looked out for me and after me all my life,” Alina said. “She is the most amazing person ever and I love her lots and lots.”
Rachel had no fewer than four people nominate her: her husband, Duncan McGregor, Leigh Naylor, Jackie Cobley and Sue McGregor, her mother-in-law.
“Rachel has been fundraising since a little girl and has always made a difference in whatever she has done,” said Duncan. “For the last 18 months Rachel has been a full time employee of Cancer Research UK which has become an absolute passion. Her drive and determination to make a difference and especially in the York area has soared.
“Rachel first got noticed by the charity when she spearheaded the Knit the York Walls knitting challenge for Cancer Research UK. Rachel’s main objective was to raise as much money as possible and get as many people in the local area involved as she could. A total of over £13,000 was raised.”
Leigh said: “As well as raising money her work also brings awareness to such a terrible illness, which itself saves lives, with people being more aware of symptoms and the importance of early detection. Rachel is one of those people out there who always has a smile on her face, full of energy and so, so positive.”
“She’s truly an inspiration and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award,” added Jackie, while Sue says “if it’s anything to do with helping others Rachel is definitely a lady to have on your side.”
- The stars of the Great Women of York exhibition can be seen at the Spurriergate Centre, St Michael’s Church, York for the next fortnight
- Opening times are Monday 9am-4pm, Tuesday–Friday 9am-4.30pm and Saturday 9am-5pm
- Admission is free