Shakespeare’s Underglobe Theatre on the South Bank in London was again the venue last night for the Women in Security (WiS) awards, when the UK security industry celebrates the contribution and achievements of women in the sector.
The winners announced on the night were (in brochure order) Michelle Agnew (security manager category), Sarah-Jane Cork (contribution to industry), Debbie Lawmon (business manager, who was unable to attend), Emma Kay (technical), and Julie Deeming (front line). The WiS patron Una Riley presented besides a ‘special recognition’ award, as last year. Last year’s went to the campaigner for Martyn’s Law, Figen Murray; this year’s was to the former chair of the Security Industry Authority, Baroness Ruth Henig.
Una recalled that it was while Henig, a Labour life peer, was chair of the SIA that Una was going around industry lead bodies about a dozen years ago, to drum up support to get WiS off the ground: “The mention of this woman’s name made bodies jump in to start.” WiS has grown to become, as Una recalled Baroness Henig predicted, to become the industry’s ‘Oscars’.
A packed room heard plenty of goodwill to all – the judges for having come to decisions about which of the finalists to single out, after an original 300-plus entries were narrowed down; sponsors of the event; and those that took the time to make nominations. Organisers as in previous years were at pains to stress, truly, that all those who were named finalists, and indeed all those who entered the awards, were worthy and deserving. Indeed, one of the winners, Sarah-Jane Cork of the London-based guarding contractor City Group Security, while collecting her award (pictured) took a microphone to state: “This [award] is for everybody in this room,” and thanked her ‘supportive allies’ during her 25 years in the industry.
The finalists were: Danni Kearney and Emily Wright (security manager category); Lynda Moore and Letitia Emeana (contribution to industry); Sarah Griffin and Onur Korucu (business manager); Nouran Nadhem and Alex Skiba (technical) and Jade Dyer and Alexandra Masters (front line).
The Professional Security Magazine organisers of the evening strive to make it a spectacle, as anyone on the South Bank around 6.30pm when the Underglobe doors opened could see. Greeting guests were a pair of performers on stilts, representing not something Shakespearean (as you may have thought) but humming birds. It was a cue for plentiful taking of photos, including by numerous unrelated passers by.
Inside, Magazine MD Roy Cooper as compere opened the proceedings and introduced BSIA chief executive Mike Reddington, who described the association’s 3Ps campaign to highlight how people and property are protected by the industry’s operatives. While the industry’s gender balance is improving, he acknowledged that it’s not happening at the pace that’s needed. He spoke of how collective action was essential, to drive the numbers of security women up.
He spoke of the advantages of having a diverse team in workplaces. The perception of private security was changing, he said, becoming more attractive as a role for women. “It’s safe to say this [landscape] is unrecognisable from years ago,” he said. “This evening is one mark of the progress we are making.” He thanked the audience, on behalf of the industry, for the valuable contributions they were making.
Among the pieces of news on the night: Una who founded the WiS Academy for finalists and winners, which held a gathering at the (nearby) offices of Informa, the owners of the IFSEC show early this year, has thrown open the Academy to all who want to be part of it, for its networking and mentoring opportunities. As featured in the September print edition of Professional Security, Debbie Carter was behind a golf taster day under the WiS umbrella (metaphorically speaking only, the weather last month was superb), at The Belfry club outside Birmingham. Those women who attended had such an enjoyable time, hopes were raised for further such events, and a date of May 16 has been set for next year’s similar gathering at The Belfry.
WiS awards are unlike any other, Una summed up: “We’re proud of you, you’re amazing!”
The business of the evening done, the enjoyment continued, on the dance floor, courtesy of a band. Guests that trickled away did so onto a South Bank where the tourists had long departed for the night, with a view to savour of St Paul’s dome bathed in light, while diehards danced until gone midnight.
Want to start preparing your entry for the WiS 2024 awards? Visit https://professionalsecurity.co.uk/wis/.