HullBID presents top speakers at Humber Business Week Inspiring Women dinner

Julie Bowler of HSBC (left) and her colleague Sarah Heavey (right) with HullBID Executive Director Kathryn Shillito.

Business, politics and community support will come together when HullBID revives its Inspiring Women dinner as one of the highlights of Humber Business Week.

HSBC – which also stepped in as the main backer of the 2022 HullBID Awards – will be joined by Hull-based interpreting and translation company Language is Everything as sponsors of the event at The Deep on Thursday 8 June.

The dinner has been a sell-out every year and demand is again high for a speaker line-up of Emma Hardy MP, Language is Everything CEO Carolyn Johnson MBE and Sam Barlow BEM, the founder and Chief Officer of Fitmums and Friends.

Language is Everything was established in 1992 and Carolyn said she wanted to mark the 30th anniversary by celebrating the place that inspired her and the people who have made it possible.

Carolyn said: “Sponsoring a business week event seemed fitting, and the Inspiring Women dinner especially so, as Language is Everything has recently been named one of the top three workplaces for women in the UK by Great Place to Work.”

Carolyn added that she wants to share her story in the context of the revival of the Humber region which she believes has been important to the company’s success.

She said: “A thriving regional economy and cultural sector leads to enhanced opportunities, increased business confidence and employees with a positive mindset.”

Fitmums and Friends dates back to 2009 when Sam’s eldest child started school and she suddenly realised she was missing the opportunity to meet and socialise with other parents. She used her love of running to organise sociable jogging sessions and, after starting with four mums, now has more than 1,000 members with 14 groups stretching across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

When Sam’s husband Mike died of cancer in October 2020, the family set up a fund in his name to offer help to anyone who may be struggling to access support. Sam also used her personal experience of bereavement to develop a programme of walking and yoga sessions for adults and an outdoor activity project for children which now support others in Hull who have experienced the death of someone close to them.

In December 2021, Sam was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero, an award which recognises the volunteers in sport whose efforts are making a difference to communities. She has now added public speaking to her hectic schedule.

Sam said: “I am so excited about the opportunity to speak at the HullBID Inspiring Women event as part of Biz Week. After winning the BBC award I have been sharing my story which I’m told is inspiring! It is essentially the story of an ‘ordinary mum’ who despite adversity creates an organisation which supports hundreds of men, women and children to reap the rewards of being active.

“A little venture which started in an East Yorkshire village has now spread across Yorkshire and into North East Lincolnshire and continues to grow. I am honoured to be included in the line-up of inspiring women and I look forward to joining an amazing event”.

Emma Hardy said support for women is one of the key drivers for the Work Hull Work Happy initiative which was launched in Hull earlier this year, promoting the city as the remote and co-working capital of the UK and a place where people can pursue their dream career without compromising on connectivity, culture or the cost of living.

Emma said: “The way we use our city centres is changing rapidly and HullBID has a vital role to play in that transformation. When I conceived of the Work Hull, Work Happy project to make Hull the remote and co-working capital of the UK, it was as a part of this need to reimagine what is possible in our city.

“Even as the main breadwinner, women are still too often expected to shoulder a disproportionate share of caring and domestic responsibilities. Expanding the opportunities in remote and co-working to give greater flexibility in where, when and how you work will open the door to more women to pursue their ambitions.”

Kathryn Shillito, HullBID Executive Director, said: “We are thrilled to be able to bring back the HullBID Inspiring Women dinner and to offer such high calibre speakers who have really made an impact in business, politics and the community locally and much further afield.

“We know from the experience of our previous dinners that this is one of the most popular events in the Biz Week programme. It provides a rare opportunity for fun networking and it is certainly inspirational. We’re extremely grateful to HSBC, our event sponsor, and to reception drinks sponsor Language is Everything for their support.”

Julie Bowler, Deputy Head of Corporate Banking South Yorkshire & Humber for HSBC, said: “HSBC are delighted to support Inspiring Women as part of Biz Week 2022, showing our ongoing commitment and support to the city centre community after the HullBID Awards 2022.

“That was a great evening and we now look forward to celebrating and supporting our local female business owners, directors and managers and meeting them in person at Inspiring Women.”

Kath Lavery, Chair of Humber Business Week, said: “We are thrilled that Biz Week is back in person, face-to-face, alive and glittering and that HullBID is again supporting it with the Inspiring Women dinner.

“It is a great line-up of serious achievers – women who are doing some amazing things in our community and who all have fascinating stories to share.”