Norfolk's most inspiring women: who has been nominated?

PUBLISHED: 09:44 09 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:44 09 June 2019

Joanna Wilkinson

Joanna Wilkinson


The first nominations are in for Norfolk's 100 most inspiring women. Has your nomination been featured? If not, you are sure to see your choice in a future Saturday edition of the EDP over the next few weeks

Rachael HutchinsonRachael Hutchinson

We had a big response to our appeal last week to help us find some of the most inspiring women in Norfolk which we are reissuing today.

Over the next few Saturdays, we will be printing your nominations for the women you feel deserve to be included.

Our quest is to honour the numerous inspirational women living and working in the county today who deserve to be recognised for their successes and the leadership and inspiration they provide for others.

In partnership with our fabulous sponsors BDO, Norwich High School for Girls, Adnams, Birketts and Spire, we're inviting you, our readers, to nominate the women who have inspired you by writing up to 100 words explaining why you admire them so greatly. Please include a photo too, if you have one.

Fiona MandersFiona Manders

The names of all the women you nominate will go before a panel of local experts who will choose the final list and then the 100 women will be invited to a special event on October 10 at Brasteds.

Tickets will also go on general sale, so members of the public, family and friends can join in the celebration of local female endeavour, bravery, flair, passion, persistence and achievement.

This week's nominations are:

Andrea RipponAndrea Rippon

n Joanna Wilkinson

Mum, teacher, coach

Joanna is Assistant Headteacher at Hobart High School and has taught, inspired, mentored and supported students here for 23 years. She also teaches PE and has encouraged all students in the benefits of physical activity to help maintain a healthy lifestyle, particularly girls.

She has also played and coached basketball for almost 30 years in Norwich. The voluntary nature of her work makes it even more inspiring. She coaches for Norfolk Iceni Basketball Club who cater for girls aged 5 - 17 and then progress onto the ladies' teams at Iceni. Joanna has coached these girls to National League games in the past few years, demonstrating how much progress they have made for both U14 and U16 age groups. This involves hours and hours of dedication and travel, all over the South East of England at weekends. Her abilities to inspire have been acknowledged in the past few years with her being asked to coach for Norfolk Basketball and East of England Basketball.

Jo Reynolds, fire fighterJo Reynolds, fire fighter

The number of girls still playing basketball due to Joanna's ability, nature and dedication is remarkable.

She's not famous, she doesn't get paid (outside of her job) but she is truly inspiring to so many youngsters, and has been for so many years.

She does all this and is still a fantastic mother to three wonderful children.

I could go on...

Emma SpagnolaEmma Spagnola

Nominated by: David Wilkinson (Proud husband)

n Rachael Hutchinson


I'd like to nominate Rachael Hutchinson, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital and CEO of Able2B, an incredible community interest company set up to develop services that help improve function for children and adults with a disability. She is literally changing the lives of children and adults on a day to day basis, giving them opportunities that they would just not have without her work. She strives to ensure those of every ability can be the best they can be - and is inspiring in every way.

Kelly LindsayKelly Lindsay

Nominated by: Alexandra 
Also nominated by: Connie Dowe

n Fiona Manders

Gym owner, fitness instructor and charity fundraiser

I'd like to nominate Fiona Manders for a place among your inspiring females award, while I would struggle to list all the incredible 'inspiring' things she does in under 100 words I'll try and give you an outline of how she affects people on an everyday basis.

Fiona has been inspiring people and especially other women in the fitness industry for over 8 years and has recently opened her own gym to help more people reach their fitness goals for a healthier life.

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She has run and cycled for countless charities and has had 4 charity events since opening her gym in December 2018. She's currently training for her first Ironman race, while raising money for Earthwatch, inspiring her members as she pushes herself past normal fitness levels. She has worked at Norwich school and Norwich High school for girls as an fitness instructor helping to inspire other young minds to great things.

There's so much more to Fiona and what she does, and I certainly can't convey how much of an amazing human being she is in less than 100 words, I just really hope you have the chance to meet her sometime and you'd realise what I mean.

Nominated by: Scott Roofe.

n Andrea Rippon

Parent and youth educator

An unsung hero of mine is Andrea Rippon. She is a person centred educator, lecturing for many years at UEA. She now runs courses from home and has recently diversified into parenting workshops called parent effectiveness training. Pretty normal stuff maybe but she is well known in Norwich because she lives and breathes what she teaches and is exceptional. Her ability to actively listen, teach listening, be congruent and teach congruence has been truly transformational for many people and families. She deals in relational attunement and is just a living, breathing example of how to be in relationships. All the aspirational women in Norwich that I know look up to her and aspire to be like her. It may not sound like much but we think she is Norfolk's answer to Brene Brown and If everyone in Norfolk could learn from her it would be a county of fulfilled happy families and productive, empathetic work places.

Nominated by Melanie Pratt.

n Josephine Reynolds


I would like to nominate Josephine Reynolds, the UK's first female firefighter. Jo has written an excellent and totally inspiring autobiography, Fire Woman, and is an interesting public speaker. During Soroptimist International of King's Lynn's International Women's Day celebrations in March 2019, Jo was the keynote speaker at a reception attended by the Mayor - and was a triumph. Jo has a great profile on social media and always makes the most of opportunities to highlight the possibilities and career choices that are open to young women in the UK and abroad. Jo is an outstanding role model for today's young people, and her communication skills ensure her message is accessible to all.

I hope Jo is successful - she deserves a mention. I am proud that she lives in King's Lynn and that her career started in our lovely county!

Nominated by: Kim Bramham, former President of Soroptimist International of King's Lynn
Jo has also been nominated by Mary Plant, Dawn Harding, Simon Boughton, Henrietta Hardy and Cathy Ryan of Southwold and District Rotary Club

n Emma Spagnola

The Norfolk Loo Lady!

I'd like to nominate an amazing lady called Emma Spagnola. She's also lovingly known as the Norfolk loo lady. She has done so much for her sons and other disabled people.

Fighting to get disabled changing places all over Norfolk to make the lives of people like my son so much more accessible. Emma has done everything from riding in the back of a truck sat on a loo during Cromer carnival to spending all her spare time emailing and fighting for equity. She's amazing.

Nominated by: Lydia Appleyard

n Kelly Lindsay

Charity founder

Kelly Lindsay is the founder of the charity Friend in Deed, a charity which promotes inter generational work, encouraging children and older people to interact together, helping to prevent loneliness and encourage kindness.

She saved up her own money to start the charity, has such passion about her cause and works with total dedication to get funding, workshops and visits up and running.

Kelly, left, also volunteers as a dementia friend and runs teaching sessions to help promote awareness and understanding.

She's is an amazing and inspiring woman.

Nominated by: Justine Hagg

This is just a selection of some of the women who have already been nominated. Don't worry if your nomination hasn't featured yet. We will feature some more next Saturday.

Please send your nominations to Liz Nice at or write to Liz Nice, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE. We look forward to hearing from you.

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