THE great and the good of Bolton came together to pay tribute to 16 inspirational women who devote their time to helping others in the borough and beyond.

The second annual Inspirational Women Awards, organised by the Women in Neighbourhoods group and Bolton Interfaith Council was held at UTC Bolton in Deane Road — with veteran broadcaster Gordon Burns in the hosting chair.

The glitzy event saw the 16 community champions honoured for a wide variety of work which is carried out for the benefit of others.

Women in Neighbourhoods —which campaigns for female empowerment through gender equality — also launched its Inspirational Women of Bolton book during the event.

One of the winners on the night was campaigner Gemma Aitchison.

Since her sister Sasha Marsden was murdered in a sexually motivated attack in 2013, Ms Aitchison has worked tirelessly on the issues of consent, gender equality and the objectification of women and founded the Yes Matters campaign.

She said: “I am very proud to share the stage with these other amazing women tonight.

“We are celebrating together and not competing — a lot of what I talk about with sexual exploitation involves women being forced to compare and compete and that isn’t right.

“I have been on a massive journey since my sister was killed and she is always in my mind.

She added: “I want to tell girls and women in Bolton that success is not just being thin, pretty and white — success is being a mother, is working hard or simply just standing up and saying that something is not ok.”

Another winner on the night was Linda Charnock, who founded and heads up the Bolton Against the Bedroom tax, which offers support and advice to residents struggling with the Government’s spare-room subsidy charge.

She said: “This award is certainly not just for me, I am sharing it with all of our group members and everyone we support.

“I am very proud of the group and what we have done and while we can be frustrated and feel like we are not always being listened to, awards like this show that some people are paying attention.

“I launched the group two and a half years ago and it does take up a lot of my time, but I would not have it any other way.

“I said at the start if we could help just one person then it would be worth it and we have helped a lot of people, which is great.”

Patricia Holmes, who is also a Horwich town councillor, was honoured for her work as chair of the Bolton BRASS (Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers group.

She said: “I am very proud to be here tonight and I am accepting the award on behalf of our 35 volunteers who give up their time to help others.

“People are right when they say that refugees and asylum seekers don’t speak English, so they need that support for the things we take for granted like filling in forms and getting health advice and that is what we do — I love it.”

She added: “I don’t think women get celebrated very often, so events like tonight are really good.”

WiN Founder Gulnaz Parveen said it had been a great night, adding: “Every community needs role models and these ladies have gone beyond the call of duty to help others.

“Win stands for female empowerment and gender equality and one of the ways we can promote that is with fantastic events like tonight.”

Host Gordon Burns added: “It was an honour and a privilege to be part of the Bolton Inspirational Women Awards evening — all our winners are truly inspirational.”

Full list of winners

Anna Kinley, works with the Bolton Interfaith Council and Smile of Hope and teaches dance.

Laura Collins, Miss Bolton & Bury 2015 and a Miss England finalist, whose voluntary charitable work has included helping to build an orphanage in Tanzania.

Maura Jackson, director of Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme.

Gemma Aitchison, founder of Yes Matters, a group which campaigns on the issues of consent and objectification of women.

Dani Gaines, an artist, who uses her creativity to work with community groups and help inspire and instil confidence in others.

Patricia Holmes, Chair of BRASS (Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers).

Susan Smart, has been working with Brownies and Girl Guides for 17 years and is passionate about nurturing and developing girls and young women.

Amal Elsheihkh, a law graduate who works voluntarily to help women in the town’s Sudanese community in all aspects of integration into life in the UK.

Zaheda Bhaloda, survivor of domestic abuse and now a fights against it, founded the group JAWS (Justice for Abused Women).

Vera Bragg – Founder of resident association, Harper Green.

Karen Openshaw, a trained Counsellor who has created a mission church and wants to make a difference to the lives of young women.

Emma Gregson – founder of Howrich Hub – CIC, tackling issues and providing solutions to neighbourhoods in Bolton.

Linda Charnock, a leading figure in the group Bolton Against the Bedroom Tax who seeks to help and advise those affected.

Gemma Louise, has cerebral palsy and whose voluntary work includes working with the Octagon Theatre, helping young children to become involved in acting.

Sajida Hussain, originally from Pakistan, whose voluntary work includes holding maths and English classes for girls, in Bolton mosques.

Katy Kellet, mother of all refugees, passionate and dedicated, will go above and beyond every time for everyone.