At a lunch in London today, Annie Lennox was awarded the Barclays Woman Of The Year award.  The award is given each year to an exceptional woman whose personal and public life has been both brave and bold. Such a woman is a modern maverick, combining extraordinary insight with determination and a visionary approach”. Annie was awarded the title in recognition of her work in the field of HIV and Aids. The ceremony took place at The Intercontinental Hotel in London. For more information about the awards

Previous winners have included:

Emily Cummins 2009: Emily Cummins
When Emily Cummins’ grandfather gave her a hammer at the age of four, it probably did not occur to him that it would inspire her to become a serial inventor. But the tool was a catalyst for Emily who spent long, happy hours in his garden shed creating things out of scraps left over from the toys he made. Soon she was taking machinery apart and putting it back together so that, by the time she went to secondary school, she already understood how they worked and the properties of different materials.

Her first invention – at the age of 15 – was a toothpaste dispenser for arthritic people who couldn’t squeeze the tube. That was quickly followed by a water carrier for use in Kenya which allowed people to carry up to five containers, rather than the one or two they could manage on their own.

For her third invention she decided to design a solarpowered refrigerator. ‘Global warming is a very real threat and it’s important we do our bit to sustain the planet for future generations,’ she says. ‘But people will go on using luxury items that make their lives easier so it’s up to designers to come up with products that are green, yet still fulfil people’s expectations.’

During her gap year in Africa, she tested her fridge and, after ascertaining that it worked efficiently, taught the locals how to manufacture it, giving away the design for free.

Still only 23, Emily is working on a second generation sustainable fridge which she hopes will one day compete with electric ones. This time it is intended for commercial use although, she insists, her aim is not about making money. ‘It’s about trying to help solve a worldwide problem and make people think differently.’

She is currently working with Ignite which promotes creativity in learning. ‘A lot of my time is spent not just coming up with my own ideas but actually inspiring others – especially young people – to think creatively and sustainably.’

2008: Shy Keenan and Sara Payne
This year we are giving a joint award to two exceptional women who have both in an entirely different way suffered at the hands of paedophiles and have risen above this appalling abuse to fight for a better world for our children. Together they have campaigned for eight years for the introduction of Sarah’s Law which allows controlled access to the sex offenders register and finally this year it has been accepted and is being tested in four Police areas so parents could know if there is a sex offender in their area. If it is successful it could be rolled out on a national basis

Sara you will recognise but Shy was brought up on the dark side of hell in a Birkenhead Council Estate where being female was a weapon used to destroy her. She escaped that hell many years ago but many of those feelings still remain.

Sister Frances Dominica 2007
Sister Frances Dominica is a nun and pioneer to the hospice movement. She is founder of Helen House, the first children’s hospice in the world, which provides care to children with life-limiting illness. The hospice opened in 1982 following a friendship Sister Frances had with the parents of a seriously ill girl called Helen, who lived with her family but required 24hr care. Sister Frances continues to dedicate her life to fundraising as well as lecturing and writing on the care of children and young people with life-limiting illness. Sister Frances is a truly exceptional woman, who has helped and influenced people around the world both personally and professionally.
Camila Batmanghelidjh 2006
Founder and director of Kids Company, a charity for children in inner London. Camila believes in offering care, and practical and emotional support to vulnerable children, often when they have suffered neglect and exclusion elsewhere.
Tina Turner 2005
Turner’s can-do attitude has permeated every aspect of her life – from the poverty and personal suffering of her early years, to her position as the most successful female rock artist of all time, Turner has inspired generations of women to overcome adversity, and to achieve their dreams.