COMMITTEE

Honorary Treasurer
& Secretary:

Stella Lewsley
Brampton

Stella moved to Cumbria from Yorkshire after marrying her husband.
Now retired, Stella had a varied working life within people orientated roles, including time as a teacher, civil servant, charity fundraiser, event organiser and school secretary.
A trustee of two incredibly worthwhile charitable organisations – the Skiddaw House Foundation and Treemendous Learning, Stella was enlisted by Juliet Westoll to set up a committee to organise the very first Cumbria Women of the Year.

Guest Co-ordinator:

Christine Parker
Windermere

Christine previously worked as Events Secretary for the Friends of Brantwood, whilst also keeping busy with various church activities and acting on the Committee for the Friends of Rydal Hall (the Diocesan House for Carlisle).
In 2003 the Mawson gardens at Rydal Hall were closed due to the need for restoration and Christine, as the Appeals Secretary, helped raise almost a million pounds in order to restore the gardens and teashop.
A member of the Committee for 14 years, Christine feels it is a privilege to work with the other committee members to honour the ladies throughout Cumbria who give of their time and energy to help others with no expectations of reward. She continues to be amazed by the number of selfless women who are nominated each year and by the diversity of the nominations received for the CWY award.

Guest Co-ordinator:

Elizabeth Ingram
Kendal

Elizabeth moved to Cumbria over 40 years ago from Lancashire, working in the care industry running a residential care home until her retirement.
Over a number of years, Elizabeth supported Cumbrian cancer charities as a volunteer, which saw her set up a day care system for cancer suffers near her home in Kendal, and was a bereavement visitor for over 20 years
Elizabeth Joined the CWY committee 20 years ago to represent the South Lakes area, finding it an inspiring and rewarding experience meeting all the nominees from across the whole of Cumbria

Chair

Debbie Keighley MBE DL
Workington

Debbie moved to Cumbria in 1979 from the south of England, to work for the Nuclear Industry. Working at Sellafield as a materials engineer and technical manager for 37 years, she helped develop graduates and apprentices for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) roles before later retiring.
With experience in a number of voluntary roles including Church Warden and Trustee for Whitehaven & District Beekeepers, Debbie was also Appointed Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of Cumbria in 2011 and awarded MBE in 2015 for services to the nuclear industry and young people in Cumbria.
Debbie has a longstanding passion for helping young women and girls achieve their full potential. She was a Girlguiding leader for over 40 years, and was County Commissioner for Girlguiding Cumbria North from 2002-2007.
Debbie was awarded Cumbria Woman of the Year in 2009, joining the CWY committee in 2015, and elected as Chair in 2020

Vice Chair:

Val Armstrong
Carlisle

Val is a familiar voice to many having worked at the BBC in the county for more than 40 years. A Lancastrian by birth, she joined BBC Radio Cumbria in 1982.Across the years she’s done a whole host of jobs from answering calls on the switchboard to cleaning the kitchen.On air she’s presented everything from the Farming Show to Sport.
She is also a great ambassador for Cumbria and loves living and working in the most beautiful part of the world.
Val was named Cumbria Woman of the Year in 2011 following her second diagnosis of breast cancer.She made her fight public by keeping online and audio diaries in the hope that they would help others facing the same battle.
Val hopes people have been inspired by her pluckiness, her determination and ability to give a great roar of laughter no matter what life throws at her….
Val has been a member of the Cumbria Women of the Year Committee since 2005.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Edith Slinger
Wigton

Edith moved to Cumbria in 1971, working as a volunteer and fundraiser for Barnardos for 40 years.
Joining the Cumbria Woman of the Year committee in 1994, Edith has enjoyed 25 years of working to bring together and celebrate the inspiring women from all over the country.

Yvonne Clarkson
Calderbridge

Yvonne is based in Cumbria, working as a partner in her family business, owning and letting a portfolio of commercial properties and agricultural land.
Diving her time also to act as trustee and board member of the Rosehill Arts Trust and a Trustee of Little Mesopotamia Arboretum.

Sue Kaveney
Carlisle

Carlisle born and bred, Sue is passionate about her City and County. She is extremely proud to have been able to continue to live and work here, until recently when she joined a former client in a regional role as Director of HR and Charities for Bedspace Resource Limited.She now travels throughout the North West for her work but remains living in Cumbria.
Outside her professional life, Sue is very active in a voluntary and fundraising capacity and was awarded Cumbria’s Woman of the Year title for 2017.
She is a Volunteer for the Royal British Legion, a Poppy Appeal Team Leader and is Vice Chair at Carlisle United Community Sports Trust.
Sue joined the committee in January 2022.

Cath Giel
Workington

Cath was born and raised in West Cumbria.Having recently retired from a senior executive role in the nuclear industry, she is enjoying the flexibility to take on new challenges and support causes close to her heart.She continues to serve on the West Cumbria Grants Panel of the Cumbria Community Foundation where she has also completed a 9-year term as a Trustee.

An ex-Parish and District Councillor, Cath has spent a considerable part of her career and adult life representing her community and trying to improve opportunities, facilities and life choices.Cath is passionate about the area and its people.She never ceases to be impressed by the resourcefulness, generosity, and spirit of the people she comes in to contact with and is proud to call herself Cumbrian.

Cath joined the Cumbria Woman of the Year committee in March 2022.

Jayne Moorby
Barrow-in-Furness

Jayne is a Marketing professional and has worked at Oxley Group in Ulverston since 2012.
A passionate Barrovian, Jayne is committed to supporting the local community, tackling disadvantage and making Furness a great place to live and work. Jayne has been a member of the core team of Barrow Foodbank for seven years and for five years has served as a member of the Cumbria Community Foundation Barrow Grants Panel.
Jayne has been recognised by The Manufacturer as one of the UK’s 100 most influential people in the category of ‘Driver of Cultural Change.’
Developing the skills of young people is a particular area of interest and Jayne is Chair of the Cumbria Cornerstone Employer Group and Chair of charity FESP; encouraging businesses and schools to work more closely together to support the skills of young people.Passionate about equality, Jayne is involved with the Women in Defence Charter and STEM and champions projects to support young women into traditionally male dominated careers.
Jayne joined the committee in 2022.

Joanne Thomlinson
Carlisle

Cumbrian born and bred, Joanne has 14 years experience in the accountancy sector. She became Partner of Dodd & Co Chartered Accountants in 2021, providing guidance and business advice to businesses in all aspects of their life cycle.
A proud Wigton girl and an inspirational campaigner, Joanne won the Cumbria Woman of the Year award herself in 2018. Her title came after 4 years of campaigning for the release of her brother John and his colleagues, the Chennai 6, from an Indian prison after being held on false weapon charges.
The campaign saw Joanne spending time between India and the UK, alongside working full time and being a mum to two small children.
Joanne joined the Cumbria Woman of the Year committee in 2022, and is thrilled to be able to bring her own experiences and accomplishments into the committee, awarding and recognising other inspiring candidates in the community.

Maria Whitehead
Rusland Valley

Maria was born and brought up in Southport in the North West of England, moving to the Lake District at the age of 15 with her family to live in the Rusland Valley, where she met her husband Mark, they ran hotels and took over her parents café in Hawkshead when they retired in 1999, they began making a range of Pickles and Preserves in the café and this soon developed into the Hawkshead Relish Company, earning them both MBE’s in 2011 for services to the food industry in Cumbria.

Maria sits on several government advisory boards for SMEs in Food and Drink and is an Export champion for the North West.Maria was instrumental in co-ordinating the appeal to secure a doctor’s surgery in Hawkshead and is involved in many community events, supporting both the mental health charity Growing Well and the Sunbeams Music Therapy in Penrith.

Outside of work, Maria loves walking and foraging for mushrooms, herbs and plants in the nearby woods, with two dogs, Bertie and Gertie and travel, especially to India and South East Asia, where they pick up recipe ideas along the way. Throughout lockdown Maria has been researching her family tree and found and finally met her Spanish cousins.

OUR PATRONS:

Juliet Westoll MBE. DL

Founder of
Cumbria Women of the Year

Fiona Armstrong

Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries

Charities Of The Year:

Our chosen charity of 2022 is Cumbrian Foodbanks. To see all the amazing charities we have supported click the link.

Past charities