Female personnel
The awards have had more than 2,000 nominations over the past five years (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Women in Defence Awards 2021: Winners announced

Female personnel
The awards have had more than 2,000 nominations over the past five years (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Winners of the 2021 Women in Defence UK Awards have been revealed at Guildhall in London.

This year saw the British Army have six nominees, however, winners on the night were split evenly across the defence community.

The awards aim to provide a platform to recognise individuals and teams, both as inspirational role models and for the work they doing to support equality of opportunity.

Caitlin Percy from BAE Systems was the big winner of the night taking not only the Woman of the Year award but also the Emerging Talent Award.

Brigadier Alison McCourt OBE won the Army one of their two awards of the night when she was awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award for the role she played in the pandemic response.

Brig McCourt deployed with two hours' notice to the NHS to help lead the joint team charged with building seven Nightingale hospitals.

Once she had led the team to success after a three-month deployment, Brig McCourt volunteered to stay at NHS headquarters to continue helping the UK battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The Defence Breastfeeding Network set up by Lance Corporal Natasha Day, nominated in the Unsung Heroines category, won the Equality of Opportunity Award in recognition of its work.

Watch: Lance Corporal Natasha Day, a combat medical technician, set up the Breastfeeding Network.

LCpl Day, a combat medical technician, returned to work last year when her son was just six-months-old.

Despite wanting to continue breastfeeding, she struggled to find the answers in policy on how to go about it.

She decided to set up the Defence Breastfeeding Network, with the aim of creating a safe area for mothers and partners to talk about breastfeeding and ensuring the Army can support them.

The group also provides guidance on health issues, maternity leave, returning to work and how to overcome barriers in the workplace, as well as advocating for equality in the workplace for breastfeeding mothers to ensure they don't fall behind.

The full list of the 2021 Women in Defence UK Awards winners:

  • Woman of the Year: Caitlin Percy - BAE Systems
  • Inspirational Award: Holli Kimble - MOD
  • Outstanding Contribution Award: Colonel (now Brigadier) Alison McCourt - British Army
  • Most Collaborative Award: Wing Commander Sarah McDonnell - Royal Air Force
  • Resolute Spirit Award: Sergeant Georgina Smith - Royal Air Force
  • Equality of Opportunity Award: Defence Breastfeeding Network - British Army/MOD
  • Emerging Talent Award: Caitlin Percy - BAE Systems
  • Unsung Heroines Award: Tina - MI5
  • Innovation and Creativity Award: Professor Veronica Bowman - Dstl
  • STEM in Defence Award: Sarah Cooper - Leonardo UK Ltd
  • Inclusive Teamwork Award: Defence Women’s Network - Defence Digital

Over the past five years, 2,000 nominations have been entered from across the defence community including the UK Armed Forces, MOD Civil Service, GCHQ, MI5 and SIS, defence industry and the defence third sector.

Air Vice-Marshal Suraya Marshall, who in August became the first woman to be appointed to command one of the RAF's two 'operational' groups congratulated the winners and nominees from the "fantastic evening". 

Former RAF Tornado navigator John Nichol, who came to the world's attention as a prisoner during the First Gulf War also attended the ceremony.

In a tweet he said: "This is belonging. A really fantastic evening. So many inspirational RAF friends who lead and protect our great nation."

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