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Buckinghamshire Women in Charity Awards 2021 winners announced

The winners of the first Buckinghamshire Women in Charity Awards were announced today by local charity Community Impact Bucks during an online award ceremony marking International Women’s Day (8th March).

Established to raise awareness of the many inspirational initiatives led by and involving women in the county, the Women in Charity Awards recognised outstanding work and effort in four categories: Outstanding Leadership, Trailblazer, Outstanding Volunteer and Young Charity Woman of the Year.

“The breadth and depth of experience and commitment highlighted by the nominations across the categories is truly inspirational,” commented Cllr Mimi Harker OBE, Chair of Community Impact Bucks and Member of Buckinghamshire Council. “Speaking on behalf of all the judges, the process of selecting just four winners from so many amazing stories of women who support our Buckinghamshire communities was challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Everyone who was nominated should be proud of their achievements and the difference they make.”

The winners and highly commended for the four Buckinghamshire Women in Charity Award categories are:

Outstanding Leadership in the Charity Sector – awarded to a woman who has made an outstanding contribution in her organisation, demonstrating inspiring leadership and the ability to motivate others to strive for excellence.

  • Winner – April Benson, Director of Services, Aylesbury Women’s Aid: April has led the development and delivery of innovative programmes for women and girls, raising awareness of domestic abuse and leading AWAID as CEO since 2019. She has continued to inspire in this role, leading the charity through the pandemic and lockdowns with determination and expertise.
  • Highly commended – Caroline Bennett, Director of Fundraising and Communications, Pace
  • Highly commended – Charlie Powell, Co-Founder & General Manager, Lindengate Mental Health Charity

Read about these outstanding leaders’ achievements here here.

Trailblazer in the Charity Sector awarded to an individual who has stepped up and personally achieved or contributed to huge impact and results, through enterprising, innovative and ground-breaking initiatives.

  • Winner – Hannah Asquith, Chief Executive, Youth Concern: Hannah has demonstrated a real pioneering spirit and great courage to drive innovation in her first year as CEO of Youth Concern. Joining in March 2020, she faced two challenges; how to do things differently in order to deliver our vital person-centric service in the face of COVID restrictions and, as a brand new CEO, how to establish the effective working relationships needed to take stakeholders with her on that journey.
  • Highly commended – Sheila Bees, Director, Grow Together
  • Highly commended – Rebecca Bennett, Volunteer Director, Open House Micklefield CIC & Hills Café

Read about these trailblazers’ achievements here.

Outstanding Volunteer awarded to an individual who has displayed great commitment and whose volunteering efforts have made a significant difference to people’s lives.

  • Winner – Shanthi Priyalatha-Wortmann, Director, Women’s Cultural Arena: Shanthi is the powerhouse behind the Community Fridge in High Wycombe which supports families to access to food. She also coordinates the community allotments that supply additional fresh produce to the fridge guests weekly.
  • Highly commended – Fiona Phimester, Volunteer Fundraiser, MacMillan Cancer Care
  • Highly commended – Sue Severn, Chairman, Watermead Parish Council

Read about these volunteers’ achievements here.

Young Charity Woman of the Year awarded to an individual (25 years or below) who demonstrates exceptional talent and potential, displaying the skills and capabilities required to deliver great work and make a significant impact.

  • Winner – Georgia Grou, Health Delivery Officer, Wycombe Wanderers and Sports Education Trust (23 years old): Gee’s passion is for mental health and empowering people to achieve their potential; she also coaches the charity’s disability sessions and voluntarily leads a local women’s football team.
  • Highly commended – Charlotte Lawrence, Attain Project Manager, Transitions UK (23 years old)
  • Highly commended – Vaibhavi Shah, DreamSai Milton Keynes (14 years old)

Read about these young women’s achievements here.

“By recognising the valuable contribution of just these 12 women today, we hope to inspire others to get involved in their communities too,” added Katie Higginson, CEO of Community Impact Bucks. “From the 14 year-old starting out in her first volunteering role, to those who have dedicated themselves to helping others for decades, their stories show the how everyone has something to give and how many ways there are to get involved and make a difference in our communities.”

The judging panel consisted of women who all have extensive experience of working with charities and communities in the county, and bring years of experience and insight to the judging process. The judges were:

  • Cllr Mimi Harker OBE, Chair of Community Impact Bucks, Member of Buckinghamshire Council
  • Rachael Shimmin, Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Council
  • Hero Brown, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Muddy Stilettos
  • Trudi Scrivener, Director and Founder of Ashridge Home Care, President Nominee Princes Risborough Rotary, and Trustee, Heart of Bucks
  • Mari Durward-Akhurst, International Para Dressage Rider and European Silver Medallist

Read more about the judges here.

Buckinghamshire Women in Charity Awards is held in association with Nova Fundraising, Heart of Bucks, and Chiltern Institute of Fundraising.


For any media enquiries, please contact Rachel Fisher at Community Impact Bucks: rachel@communityimpactbucks.org.uk/ 01844 617216


  • Community Impact Bucks is an independent charity that supports people and groups to get involved and make a difference in Buckinghamshire communities. We offer expert advice and training, help people to find volunteering opportunities, and help charities and not for profit groups to get started, be effective and grow.
  • International Women’s Day has a number of missions to help forge a gender equal world. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality, is key. #IWD2021
  • Nova Fundraising is a Buckinghamshire based fundraising consultancy offering a range of services specifically aimed at small-medium sized charities which are looking to develop, review or implement a new fundraising programme.