Woman’s Weekly editor Diane meets Hollywood royalty, Helen Mirren, at the Women of the Year lunch
I’d really love to say my life is one long round of starry encounters, and that as a result, the chance to meet and have my picture taken with none other than the fantastic Dame Helen Mirren was just another run-of-the-mill day. But would be so far from the truth!
Once a year, I’m lucky enough to be involved in the inspiring event that is the Women of the Year lunch where 400 sensational women are honoured for the work they do to make the world a better, more just, more forgiving, more enligtened and enjoyable place.
Every woman at the lunch is considered to be a Woman of the Year, but a small number are selected to receive special awards in recognition of their outstanding contributions. This year those women were PD James, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, Doreen Lawrence for her tireless quest in bringing the murderers of her son, Stephen, to justice and challenging the institutionalised racism that was endemic in the police force in the process, and Zainab Salbi, whose remarkable work with and for the women of war-torn countries around the world was recognised with the Window On The World Award. Helen Mirren was the surprise presenter of that award, a task she carried out with typical warmth and panache. She also graciously stayed on afterwards to talk to the guests, and pose for pictures. Obviously I couldn’t restrain myself from squeezing in for one (along with two of the singers from the Military Wives choir who sang at the lunch and were as excited by being in the presence of one of our greatest actresses as I was).
Heroines of the Games
The final award of the afternoon was the Outstanding Achievement award, and who else could it possibly go to in 2012 than to the superhuman women medalists of the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
I was lucky enough to have four of the Paralympic medalists on my table, including the wonderful Sophie Christiansen, the equestrian who won three golds (and who was wearing them all with understandable pride – no mean feat. They weigh a ton!) And I make no apologies for shameless pouncing on as many of my games heroines as I could to have my picture taken with them. Here are some of the ones who didn’t run away fast enough!
The marvellous – and very tall – Rebecca Adlington.
Sophie Christiansen, minus her medals round her neck (but she never let them out of her sight)
Denise Lewis – whose reaction to Mor Farah winning the 1000 metres is still one of my Games highlights.
And look how glamorous multi-medal winning Sarah Storey is out of her games kit!