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Meet the incredible people up for the I Love MCR Emmeline Pankhurst Award

Discover the champions of gender equality - from football mavericks to business moguls, these nominees for the Emmeline Pankhurst Award are rewriting the rules for women's empowerment.

Meet this remarkable group of individuals and organisations who are making waves in the realm of gender equality, women’s rights, and empowerment.

They are the embodiment of progress, tirelessly working to break barriers, empower voices, and champion the cause of women not only within the city but also beyond its borders.

This prestigious accolade recognises those who have left a mark on the landscape of gender equity, political participation, and the advancement of women’s rights.

These nominees are not just leaders in their respective fields; they are torchbearers for change, setting the stage for a brighter, more inclusive future.

So let’s meet the shortlist.

Helen Hardy: Champion of Women’s Football and Inclusivity

Helen Hardy, a remarkable figure in women’s sports, recently earned recognition as the 6th most powerful woman in the BBC Women’s Power List 2023.

Her dedication to women’s football extends far beyond the pitch.

As the founder of, an e-commerce platform exclusively dedicated to women’s football products, Helen has been pivotal in advancing the visibility and accessibility of women’s football.

The platform also manufactures kits for women’s and girls’ football clubs.

In Manchester, Helen initiated three significant programs: Manchester Laces, the largest women’s football club in the North West; The Alternative Football League, an inclusive football league for women, non-binary, and transgender individuals; and Ball Together Now, a summer inclusive football festival for women.

These programs collectively impact over 750 women weekly.

Helen’s commitment goes beyond sports; she’s a passionate advocate for creating safe spaces where women can thrive. She fearlessly addresses important topics like periods in women’s sports and LGBTQ+ rights on platforms like the BBC and Sky News.

Her relentless dedication to gender equality makes her an icon in the field.

Vote for them here

Amanda Naylor OBE

Amanda Naylor is an inspiring figure who passionately supports young people, particularly those facing adversity. She ensures that Manchester Youth Zone provides equitable opportunities for all, regardless of their background.

Amanda’s work has spanned 25 years, focusing on disadvantaged children and young people whose voices often go unheard. She has championed these causes both locally and nationally.

As the leader of Manchester Youth Zone, Amanda oversees vital support for over 2,000 young people in one of the most deprived areas of the city. Her commitment to levelling the playing field and championing young people has earned her an OBE.

Vote for them here

Lauren Irlam, Owner of Nibble NQ: Empowering Women in Business

Lauren Irlam, an independent business owner, has established a welcoming and female-led café/hub in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Her establishment is not only a place to enjoy great food but also a symbol of empowerment for women in business.

Lauren champions and empowers women in various ways, epitomised by her merch that boldly declares, “Girls can do ****ing anything.”

She creates a friendly space and offers a listening ear to all customers, making her café a vital part of Manchester.

Vote for them here

Victoria Evans: Record-Breaking Rower and Legal Advocate for Women’s Sports

Victoria Evans embarked on an extraordinary journey in February 2022, setting out to break the world record for the fastest solo woman to row across the Atlantic.

In March 2022, she not only achieved this remarkable feat but also shattered the existing record by more than a week.

Her daring adventure was not just about personal glory; it was a mission to raise funds and awareness for the charity Women In Sport.

Victoria’s work extends to changing the regulatory framework of women’s sports as a lawyer.

Maintaining strong ties to Manchester, Victoria continues to be a beacon of inspiration for women’s achievements, both in sports and advocacy.

Vote for them here

Aimie Lawlor-Skillen & Kiera Lawlor-Skillen, Feel Good Club

Aimie and Kiera are the owners of Feel Good Club.

Feel Good Club is a mental health and well-being-focused community hub in Manchester.

It aims to create a safe and supportive environment for individuals to discuss mental health, access resources, and engage in self-care practices.

Their mission is to create online and physical spaces where people feel safe, comfortable and feel good being themselves

It may host workshops, support groups, and events centred around well-being.

Vote for them here

Lee Chambers: Prominent Male Ally in Gender Equity

Lee Chambers

While Lee Chambers is a man, his dedication to advancing gender equity and allyship makes him a notable nominee.

Lee’s journey from adversity to advocacy is inspiring, as he overcame personal challenges to become a champion for women’s wellbeing.

Lee is a tireless advocate for wellbeing in various sectors, including women’s health, mental health, and neurodiversity.

He has received numerous awards for his contributions to wellbeing and inclusion, impacting thousands of employees and communities.

Lee’s commitment extends to education, where he actively changes systems to benefit all. His humility and dedication make him a rising star in the region.

Vote for them here

Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon is the founder of Girls Out Loud CIC, the North West based not-for-profit organisation which inspires and empowers teenage girls to find their voices, harness their self-belief and maximise their potential.

Jane is passionate about helping women and girls be the best version of themselves – she’s driven by the need to connect, inspire and empower women to be role models for the younger generation and has been working exclusively with women and teenage girls for the past 25 years.

In this time, Jane has been on a mission to champion and inspire women and young girls to step up and shine, firstly with the creation of her aspirational coaching brand The Well Heeled Divas in 2004, followed by the creation of Girls Out Loud in 2010. Girls Out Loud works in secondary schools, delivering several early intervention programmes for young teen girls from, two hours to 12 months in duration, focussed on building self-belief, resilience and confidence.
Jane’s Big Sister mentoring programme harnesses female role models to help empower teenage girls to believe in themselves, understand their choices and consequences, and fulfil their personal potential – with a mantra to girls to “Be Bold, Be Brave & Believe in You.”

Through the programme, a Big Sister is a mentor to a young teenage girl, aged 12-13, for 12 months. She is a trusted guide, a role model, an inspiration – a woman who is comfortable in her own skin and proud of her success. Jane recruits, trains and supports these women, who in turn support and guide a young girl for 12 months

Jane facilitates this process in schools and alongside 121 activities each programme also includes workshops for the girls on a wide range of subjects including staying safe online, body confidence, relationship development, mindfulness and more. Big Sister volunteer time is around 26 hours a year including 12 hours of training upfront. The programme literally changes the lives of both the Little and Big Sister, as mentoring a young girl empowers her to find her voice and her visibility in a parallel process.

Since founding Girls Out Loud, Jane’s work has touched the lives of 20,000+ girls in 60+ diverse schools across the North West and beyond and she’s personally coached 100+ teen girls and 1200+ female entrepreneurs. Jane has worked tirelessly to raise over £1.5M to run Girls Out Loud during this time, with little or no financial support from schools or government finance.

Vote for them here

Rhiannah Balcombe

Rhiannah is the owner and head stylist of Underfound. She is well known for her work ethic and ability to challenge herself despite having learning difficulties due to severe dyslexia.

In school she experienced bullying and if not for her mum telling her “she could achieve anything” she may not be where she is today.

Rhiannah studied hairdressing from the age of 13 and subsequently moved to barbering and is now an award-winning barber and stylist driven from years of dedication to her craft.

Alongside this, she was scouted to model which found her love of acting and as appeared in films such as: Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them, Men In Black International and Pokémon Pikachu Detective to name a few but her greatest work was opening Underfound the male grooming, fashion and Live music experience store.

Despite her challenges, Rhiannah has created something really special within Underfound as it is not only unique for Manchester but the entire UK.

Underfound has revolutionised client service within the barbering world as not only are they leading the way with male grooming but the fully-fledged fashion boutique located on the first floor, can take care of all of the client needs.

In addition, on selected days in the week live performances from upcoming artists or DJ’s perform in-store free of charge whilst the customers are seated.

Underfound selects only the most upcoming brand partners and stocks product that is not available anywhere else in the North of England (and some UK exclusive) creating an experience unlike any other when visiting the store.

These nominees embody the spirit of the Emmeline Pankhurst Award, each contributing significantly to advancing gender equality, women’s rights, and empowerment in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Their dedication and impact have left a huge mark on the community, making them deserving recipients of this prestigious honour.

I Love Manchester sends a special thanks to the award sponsors AO ArenaHilton Manchester, Sapporo TeppanyakiPalace Theatre & Opera HouseJulie Twist PropertiesGlengoyne, and Happy Radio for making this special event possible.

This is an inclusive event and it’s because of their support, we’re able to offer complimentary tickets to charities, community groups, disabled people and carers who may not otherwise be able to afford to attend.

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