Our celebrity judges have finished deliberating and it's time to reveal which inspirational stars and incredible HELLO! readers were crowned winners at this year's Star Women Awards. The ceremony, which was hosted by Kate Silverton, took place virtually on Thursday 17 December where we announced the victorious Star Women winners.
MORE: Kate Garraway reveals new Christmas traditions as she receives Inspiration of the Year award
VIDEO: Meet the celebrity judges and watch the highlights from the 2020 Star Women Awards
Trailblazer of the Year - Lavinya Stennett
Our Trailblazer of the Year Award goes to Lavinya Stennett, the founder and CEO of The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise based out of London that aims to get black British history taught at schools all over the country. The Black Curriculum was only set up last year but has already gained the support of celebrity fans including JLS, Denise Lewis, Bonnie Wright and Gemma Cairney. The organisation goes into schools and runs workshops with pupils and also works with teachers to show them how to teach black British History through a variety of subjects, including History and PSHE [Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education] as well as art history, music, politics, and sociology.
Lavinya says: "The Black Curriculum wants to embed black British history into the national curriculum by working to support teachers in schools. Our aim is to empower all students with a sense of identity. We have found that, if some young people are not taught black history more accurately, they find it very hard to identify themselves as part of Britain. We want to empower everyone and to recognise that this country has always been diverse."
Community of the Year - The WellChild nurses
The second award of the night was Community of the Year, which went to the WellChild nurses. The national charity, which counts Prince Harry as its royal patron, offers wide-ranging support to sick children. Its nurses offer both care and support to children with challenging health needs alongside practical, emotional and financial support to their families. The children they look after can often suffer from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and the nurses ensure they are able to live the best possible quality of life they can.
As well as ongoing care, they can also provide respite relief and can train teachers and staff in the best way to look after the child, in addition to working with other agencies to provide the best all-round support. Last year, WellChild Nurses supported 2,154 children, young people and families.
Hello To Kindness - Priya Vara
Our third award of the evening, Hello To Kindness, was voted for by HELLO! readers and went to mother-of-two and scientist Priya Vara. Priya has been fundraising to raise £50,000 for Hillingdon Hospital to build a bereavement suite after suffering the devastating stillborn birth of her son Shayen three years ago. A full-time scientist, Priya juggles her job with looking after her and her husband's two daughters, aged six and 18 months, with fundraising for the hospital, which has included encouraging friends and family to donate, organising Diwali and Christmas events for children and producing advent calendars and stocking fillers to sell and raise funds for the cause.
Priya is also constantly consulting with the staff at Hillingdon on their plans for the bereavement suite, which will see bereaved parents given a safe space to process their loss, far away from the maternity and ante-natal wards that is often the experience for other mothers (and was the experience for Priya herself). In addition, Priya offers online support to other bereaved parents and has appeared on television to discuss her experience, in the hope of encouraging others who have experienced the same to talk about their emotions and get the help they need to process what has happened.
She and her husband have paid for waterpumps in Shayen's name to provide safe water for residents in the Indian state of Gujarat, as well as helping provide supplies for schoolchildren in the area. They continue to fundraise for ongoing projects in India in their son's name.
Fashion Game Changer Award in association with Childrensalon - Ikram Abdi Omar
An award that was voted for by our HELLO! Fashion readers, the Fashion Game Changer Award was presented to Ikram Abdi Omar. A worthy winner, Ikram is a girl of many talents: she studied a degree in biomedical science at university, has her own YouTube channel and is an international model with campaigns for the likes of Burberry under her belt. She made fashion history when she appeared on the cover of Vogue Arabia with fellow hijab-wearing models Halima Aden and Amina Adan - a first for Vogue and a groundbreaking step for diversity. She also appeared on the cover of HELLO! Fashion earlier this year.
Born in Stockholm, from Somalian descent, Ikram moved to Bristol with her parents when she was eight. She chose to start wearing a hijab at 11 and is proof that you can work in fashion without sacrificing your faith. Scroll through her Instagram or watch her makeup tutorials on YouTube and you'll see her unique style and down-to-earth personality. But she also uses her social channels to inspire her 120,000 followers and to shine a spotlight on issues she's passionate about – calling out racial injustice and championing greater minority representation. It has always been Ikram's goal to represent her religion authentically and she is now one of the leading faces redefining what a model can be today.
Star Mum in association with Childrensalon – Soraya Kelly
Our penultimate award, which was also voted for by readers, was the Star Mum award that went to Welsh-born, hero mum Soraya Kelly. Soraya overcame a tough upbringing to dedicate herself to underprivileged children and steer them away from drugs and violence. Building on her own experience, she created charity The Gloves Are On, which runs several different projects to help young people in the area where she lives, covering Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Gloves Are On's key aim is to provide a range of opportunities, education and support to children, young adults and their families to help them through issues such as mental health, school and exam pressure, crime, bereavement, personal development and self-confidence.
Soraya is also involved in promoting early detection of cancer after being diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. After sharing her story on social media, she got in contact with celebrities in the hope of gaining their support; so far stars including Gloria Hunniford, Thierry Henry and Madness have given their backing and a campaign advert gained the full support of the Caron Keating Foundation. Other projects include #FadeItOutKnockItOut, which is an initiative aimed at ending discrimination in sport and another project helps promote mental health awareness in sport.
Soraya started working as a station enquiry clerk for the police before moving to work in the child protection and community settings areas, which included working within schools to help at risk children. At the age of 36, she studied for a BA in youth and community education as she wanted to make more of a difference in the lives of the children she worked for. She did this while pregnant with twins (she also has two older children).
"Receiving this award means the world to me, I was so thrilled when I found out," Soraya said. "Perhaps more importantly, though, I am hoping it will give me the platform to make so much more of a difference in the community. We really need to give these young people a voice, so they can be heard."
Inspiration of the Year in association with Childrensalon - Kate Garraway
Our final award of the night, Inspiration of the Year, was presented to TV star Kate Garraway, in recognition of the fact that, while experiencing the most painful period of her life after her husband Derek was hospitalized for Covid-19, she has become a remarkable beacon of hope for those who are experiencing the same heartbreak.
"It's so kind of you," Kate said as she accepted her award. "I don't feel like I'm an inspiration at all. I just feel like I've been trying to get through. If it has been helpful, then that is lovely. If you've lost someone due to COVID or you've lost someone for whatever reason, I think Christmas is very tough. I'm lucky that Derek is still with us, and that we still have hope for next year, but it is quite hard to know how to really plan."
"The children miss their dad," said Kate, who shares a son William and daughter Darcey with her husband. "I'm trying to be mum and dad and obviously can't be. It's sad as well, so it's making sure there's enough laughter going on."
Kate concluded: "I hope that we, as a country, can fight out way out of this pandemic and we don't give in to bitterness and anger. I just hope we can keep that lovely community spirit we had at the beginning. I hope we can keep some of the good things about 2020 – the positivity and community spirit – and hopefully let's just all let it be over."
Our Star Women winners were each presented with a luxurious goodie bag worth over £400, which included a £150 voucher to spend at Childrensalon, a mini Kensington handbag by Kurt Geiger, a candle by Candalia, a bottle of No1 Wildflower Gin by Cotswolds Distillery and a Verbena Festive Bauble by L'Occitane.