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Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards 2021 Winners Revealed

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An awards ceremony recognising the achievements of some of Wales’ most remarkable individuals has seen honours bestowed ‘virtually’ across the nation.

The Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards 2021 streamed across FaceBook and Twitter last week showcasing the winners and finalists who are making such a difference to others and their communities.

Presented by Andrea Byrne of ITV Cymru Wales and Welsh actress and presenter Elin Pavli-Hinde, the ceremony was open to a global online audience to share news of the finalist’s accomplishments.

The biggest winner on the night was Doctor and scientist Bnar Talabani who has been at the forefront of the effort to tackle uncertainty and misinformation around the Covid-19 vaccine.

She received the Woman in Health and Care Award as well as the overall title of Womenspire Champion 2021 having impressed the judges with her warmth, incredible resilience, determination and fearlessness in the face of adversity.

Arriving in the UK as a child refugee from Iraq back in 1998, her harrowing start in life could never have foretold her brilliant future. Bnar has been at the forefront of the effort to tackle uncertainty and misinformation around the Covid-19 vaccine. Filling a void she saw in the availability of information in different languages for ethnic minorities, she was instrumental in the formation of Muslim Doctors Cymru. And when she’s not on the ground fighting vaccine hesitancy, you can find her on TikTok dispelling myths.

Winners in other categories were as follows:

  • Community Champion: Roon Adam (Cardiff) – advice services manager at Race Equality First who goes above and beyond her role to help and support members of her local community.
  • Board Member: Karen Harvey-Cooke (Barry) – on the board for Skills and Volunteering Cymru, bringing her knowledge of equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Leader: Dr Gwenllian Lansdown Davies (Llanerfyl) – Chief Executive of Mudiad Meithrin, she is an inspirational role model, constantly working to create a positive culture where everyone matters.
  • Woman in STEM: Sam Wheeler (Merthyr Cynog, Brecon) – Director at Big Lemon transforming it into a ‘tech for good’ digital agency.
  • Woman in Sport: Nikki Sibeon (Greenfield, Holywell) – an undetected genetic condition left her blind at the age of 21, yet she has become a blackbelt in Taekwondo and champion ice-skater.
  • Rising Star: Jessica Dunrod (Cardiff) – The owner of two translations firms, Jessica is the first Black children's author born in Wales since releasing “Your Hair is Your Crown” and “Outstanding”. The books are changing children's perspectives of what girls can be.
  • Entrepreneur: Leanne Holder (Narberth) – set up BecauseRaceCarBox, a subscription box for car cleaning enthusiasts and works to support female entrepreneurs and inspire them into male-dominated industries.
  • Learner: Kate Bennett-Davies (Cardiff) – diagnosed with ME at 14, Kate did make it to university, but had to leave due to ill health. However, she has recently finished her first year of a Welsh learner’s course with Cardiff University.
  • Gender Equality Champion: Mike Taggart (Rhyl) – the strategic domestic abuse officer in the North Wales police force, with a focus on helping others to not be bystanders to domestic abuse.

FairPlay Employer Award – for a business or organisation – went to Celtic English Academy, having evidenced its solid commitment to fairness, inclusivity, well-being and workplace flexibility.

 Cerys Furlong, Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg, said:

“This is our sixth Womenspire awards and once again it has been incredible to hear the stories of all our finalists and their magnificent achievements. At Chwarae Teg we know how important it is that these accomplishments are highlighted. So, I must congratulate all the finalists, winners and everyone involved and say a big thank you for making Womenspire 2021 such a success.

“Bnar’s place as Womenspire Champion reflects the immense barriers she’s had to overcome and the fact that, through hard work and determination, she has made immeasurable differences to her own life as well as the lives of others. She is a brave and incredible role model.”