Women prove an inspiration

Herald Series: Lucy Rutledge, left, and Laura Bresciani of Abingdon Military Wives Choir Buy this photo » Lucy Rutledge, left, and Laura Bresciani of Abingdon Military Wives Choir

ABINGDON Military Wives Choir and Oxford’s first Green Lord Mayor are among the women put forward for achievement awards.

Dalton Barracks residents Lucy Rutledge and Laura Bresciani set up the choir as a social and support group for women whose soldier partners were in Afghanistan.

They have now been nominated for Performer of the Year in the Sue Ryder Women of Achievement Awards for Thames Valley.

There are 35 women from the Thames Valley who have been put forward for the 10 awards, which include categories for contribution to sport and community.

Mrs Bresciani, 27, said: “I’m really surprised. I have no idea who nominated us, but it’s really lovely.

“We set up the group to help all the wives, whose husbands aren’t there, come together and support each other, and have some fun while singing.”

The group was launched in April and now has about 30 members.

The singers will perform at the regiment’s homecoming parade in Abingdon town centre in November.

Oxford’s first Green Lord Mayor Elise Benjamin was shortlisted for the Corporate Social Responsibility prize.

The Green party member for Iffley Fields cycled to engagements with a donated bike to promote sustainable modes of travel while Lord Mayor in 2011/12.

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She said: “I am really honoured.

“It’s even more special to be nominated, as one of the things I wanted to do was set an example and encourage women that you can do all sorts of things in life.

“I found a lot of women were very encouraged to have a woman mayor.”

Emma Harpaul, the charity’s event fundraiser, said: “The awards are now in their sixth year and recognise remarkable women who have achieved incredible things.

“They (Mrs Bresciani and Mrs Rutledge) have not only set up a successful choir, they have created a community, support and friendships for such a worthy cause and it's great to find out about such remarkable work being done locally.

“Elise’s work has been very admirable by being so environmentally friendly.

“To have become Oxford’s first Green Lord Mayor is a phenomenal achievement.”

The ceremony takes place on Wednesday, October 17, at the Hilton Hotel in Reading.

The Sue Ryder charity provides care for people living with incurable illnesses through a hospice in Nettlebed.

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