Women of Sheffield Award

I’m beyond a reet bit (as we say in Sheffield) chuffed to be a recipient of the Sarah Nulty Award for Creativity at the inaugural Women of Sheffield Awards last night courtesy of the Sheffield Star – celebrating local women who have had an impact. It was an honour to stand alongside some truly inspirational women of all backgrounds, ages and powerful stories –from engineers and scientists, to health and sports professionals – including my fellow culture fertilisers, Justine Gaubert and Sara Hill.

The award is for 20+ years supporting young people to reach their potential. I had rocky younger years, leaving home at 15 and muddling through from an early age, and I believe that set something alight in me in terms of my values and trying to provide others with what was lacking in my own experiences as a creative growing up.

I’m honoured it was in memory of the creative spark that was Sarah Nulty (the engine behind the Tramlines Festival for many years), and bravely and beautifully presented by Sarah’s mum Julie who gave me the best hug I’ve had in a long time – sorting me out after the stage fright of standing in front of an audience while someone talks about you and you wonder where to look.

Although I never met Sarah I know she had a huge impact in her short time on this earth. Isn’t that one of the best things we can hope for in this life, to have made a difference, however small, in our corner of the planet? There are many of us quietly doing this kind of work in creative fields, and anyone who is will know the impact of creativity and everything it brings. Sadly it’s a field that is often underpaid and undervalued, and run (in the upper echelons) by the wrong people (like most things!), but those of us who know its impact keep at it and I salute you all. And if it’s not you, but you see one of us grafting or struggling – please do what you can to support us to do our job. We need allies and key holders in every nook and cranny so we can keep doing what we do without becoming exhausted.

The best part of the award was that people, particularly young people – (you know the generation they say are apathetic) took the time to write in and nominate me (I know who some of you are now! Thank you) the words and the gratitude you’ve expressed have made my heart soar. Some of you I haven’t worked with in years, others I still mentor years on. Some of you have even gone from babyface to beard in the time I’ve known you! Thank you so much for your beautiful gesture and all the thoughtful things said. They are deeply appreciated.

So this award is also for all my other creative women out there who are the grafters, the enablers, the game-changers, the neuro-divergent thinkers, those who do it for the love not the glory, the survivors of cancer, of illness or allsorts – who keep standing up and holding your hand out to others. And for Sarah and all the beautiful women that have made ripples that continue to last.

Thank you to everyone who made this happen including the Star, especially Ann Holmes and Nancy Fielder, and to Karen Breckon of Meadowhead Flowers for the beautiful bouquet of local wildflowers, so lovely! And to all who nominated me including Warda Yassin, Justine Gaubert and all who believe in me. My heart is yours!