2020 National Diversity Awards is Lord Woolley's night – The Voice Online

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DIRECTOR OF Operation Black Vote (OBV) Lord Simon Woolley CBE received the prestigious lifetime achiever award at the ninth annual National Diversity Awards on Friday September 17.
I am so thrilled to finally be able to give our 2020 nominees the ceremony that they deserve
Woolley, who took the stage and immediately quipped that he didn’t feel old enough to qualify for the category, was recognised by judges for his list of tremendous achievements, including transforming the nations political and civic institutions. 
After a much-anticipated delay, community organisations and role models from across the UK headed to the breathtaking Liverpool Cathedral to witness the countries 2020 winners being crowned the best of British diversity.
Taking home one of the big gongs of the night, Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock was the recipient of the Celebrity of the Year Award for her ongoing commitment to tackling race discrimination across the media industry.
The singing sensation was unable to attend the ceremony in person due to the recent arrival of twins, but shared the following message: “I truly believe there is so much power behind speaking up and finding your voice and speaking about injustices”, said Pinnock.
“It’s something that I knew that I had to do, and I feel like it’s given me the confidence to continue to fight the fight for racial inequality.
“I just want a world where my children can see their ethnicity as something that’s always celebrated and not an obstacle. I know that we have a long way to go but I feel like if we all continue to speak up, and all do our bit to fight this fight then we’ll get there.”
ITV News worked in conjunction with organisers leading up to the ceremony to highlight role models and community organisations on regional and national news channels.  
The ceremony, which was also live streamed has been described as the ‘golden globes of the diversity world’ among attendees.
Hosted by television presenter Konnie Huq, she enthused: “Diversity and inclusivity are two massively important areas to me that important strides can still be made in.
“It’s great to be honouring those who have already done so in this field. We’ve seen a challenging year and it’s important we still keep striving to improve the playing field to a level one. I am really looking forward to this year’s event and honouring those who are so deserved.”
A record 60,000 people nominated last year alone with an astonishing 126 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide.
Amongst those being commended were the real stars of the show; From a campaign challenging outdated perceptions of Down Syndrome, to a programme helping disadvantaged women and girls; Liverpool’s grand Cathedral was filled with goodness.
The energy in the room was an intrinsically positive one, with each nominee being extremely supportive of each other.
The evening was kicked off by founder of the NDA’s Paul Sesay, discussing the importance of the National Diversity Awards and what inspired him to create the ceremony.
“After a difficult year with many challenges to overcome due to the impact of Covid-19, I am so thrilled to finally be able to give our 2020 nominees the ceremony that they deserve,” said Sesay.
He added: “It is a privilege to recognise your bravery, resilience and courage. This night is for you; In my eyes and in the eyes of many others – you have already won.”
The first award of the night went to 15-year old TikTok star Isabella Evans who has made quite the impression online teaching people sign language, one sign at a time.
Changing Places Ambassador Zack Kerr was next to receive an award in the positive role model category campaigning tirelessly for disabled facilities at service stations across the UK.
Award winning cyber security consultant Lisa Ventura was gifted with the gender accolade for working ferociously to challenge injustice when it comes to the gender pay gap and the cyber skills gap for women.
Metropolitan Police Officer Laks Mann was named LGBT role model of the year for raising awareness and understanding, as well as increasing visibility of the UK’s South Asian queer community, whilst Earth Scientist Dr Anjana Khatwa was awarded the positive role model for race, faith and religion for bringing stories about the origins and formation of natural landscapes to life for a wide range of audiences.
WelcoME Founder Gavin Neate scooped the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award for transforming the way in which customer-facing businesses serve disabled people through technology.
Another highlight of the evening came when an independent, parent-led charity Skylarks accepted the Community Organisation Award for supporting over 4000 children and young people with disabilities.
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust were presented with the Diverse Company Award, and GYRO – the Young Person’s Advisory Service were hailed for supporting LGBTQ+ children and young people across Merseyside.
Wouldn’t Change a Thing were commended for modernising mainstream perceptions of Down Syndrome, and Us Programme were applauded for working with young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds who need society’s help the most.
Black Health Initiative (BHI) beat seven other competitors for addressing inequalities and inequities in Education, Health and Social Care, and The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety emerged as winners of the Multi-Strand category for helping over 6,500 individuals to make significant changes to their lives through personal safety, conflict resolution and practical self-defence training.
In addition to real life diversity heroes, a number of special guests made an appearance at the UK’s largest diversity awards to show their support for the incredible nominees who have changed the lives of many.
The Last Leg Presenter Adam Hills joined Rugby legend Gareth Thomas CBE to praise role models and charities for their staggering achievements. TV personality and autism campaigner Christine McGuinness also showed her support alongside actor and comedian Richard Blackwood and the cast of Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale.
NielsenIQ and Direct Line Group were amongst some of the brands sponsoring the pioneering awards that have paid tribute to over one thousand grass root charities and diversity champions since its inception. Other companies shining a light on diverse talent included The Open University, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, Lush Spa, OVO Group, Avast Foundation, and Able Magazine.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Positive Role Model for Age: Isabella Evans
Positive Role Model for Disability: Zack Kerr
Positive Role Model for Gender: Lisa Ventura
Positive Role Model for LGBT: Laks Mann
Positive Role Model for Race, Faith & Religion: Dr Anjana Khatwa
Community Organisation Award for Age: Skylarks
Community Organisation Award for Disability: Wouldn’t Change a Thing
Community Organisation Award for Gender: Us Programme
Community Organisation Award for LGBT: GYRO – Young Person’s Advisory Service 
Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith & Religion: Black Health Initiative (BHI)
Community Organisation Award for Multi-strand: The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety
Entrepreneur of Excellence: Gavin Neate
Celebrity of the Year: Leigh-Anne Pinnock
Diverse Company: University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
Lifetime Achiever: Lord Simon Woolley CBE
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