Extraordinary women were honoured this week at the 60th anniversary of the Women of the Year Awards. The InterContinental London Park Lane hosted the event, as over four hundred outstanding women attended the lunch and awards presentation.

The six award categories represented a broad spectrum of challenges that modern women face and the winners were selected as a reflection of the courage and perseverance that they have all demonstrated. The winners were:

  • Cokie van der Velde (Barclays Women of the Year Award)

The Medicins Sans Frontieres volunteer was on the front line in the fight against Ebola.

The 55-year-old ignored her personal safety to help the ongoing struggle in Africa against the epidemic.

  • Pat Rogers (ITV’s “Lorraine” Inspirational Woman of the Year Award)

Anti – youth violence campaigner who launched the charity Every Action Has Consequences with her husband, David after their son was tragically killed after being attacked on a night out in 2009. She was voted for by the viewers of Lorraine Kelly’s television programme.

  • Kristin Hallenga (DFS Women of the Year Award – Outstanding Young Campaigner)

Kris co-founded CoppaFeel! With her sister Maren in 2009 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 23. The charity urges women under 30 to regularly check their breasts for the early signs of breast cancer.

  • Jayne Senior (“Good Housekeeping” Women of the Year Award – Outstanding Achievement)

Child exploitation campaigner who was instrumental in exposing the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal and in ensuring justice for the victims.

  • Dame Stephanie Shirley (Women of the Year Special Award)

The award was a deserved recognition of the impact she has had in revolutionising the country’s female workforce and as a trailblazer for changes that women now take for granted.

A keen advocate of women being “respected for their capabilities,” the philanthropist has generously given away almost £70 million since arriving in Britain as a refugee from Germany as a young child.

  • Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Prudential Women of the Year Award – Lifetime Achievement)

The leading Astrophysicist was rewarded for her contributions to science, including being a part of the team in 1974 that detected the first pulsar.

Controversially, her male colleague and supervisor was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics as a result, while she was not recognised at the time. That setback has not prevented her from continuing with her life Work and pushing the boundaries for women in the field.

Toksvig hosted the event

Helping to maintain the decorum was a woman who has been in the showbiz news herself recently. As the new host of popular quiz show “QI”, Sandi Toksvig is also the Women of the Year president. Besides hosting the proceedings, she was also part of the accomplished judging panel, which included Dame Tessa Jowell, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and the journalist Eve Pollard.

Toksvig was clearly proud to be a figurehead for the awards, stating that they have “celebrated the wonderful achievements of women since 1955.” The TV presenter and comedian reflected that all of the attendees were prominent “in making the world a better place.”

Hollywood glitz

Hollywood glitz and glamour was liberally sprinkled over proceedings by the Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, as she presented one of the awards.

Comic Jo Brand was another of the celebrity prize presenters, in addition to Coronation Street’s stalwart Sally Dynevor, the newsreader Julie Etchingham and breakfast TV’s Lorraine Kelly.

Many familiar faces were dotted around the room in addition to the winners, with representatives from the world of sport (Katherine Grainger), politics (Baroness Shirley Williams), music (Katie Melua) and television (Dame Esther Rantzen).