MAXINE GORDON looks back over 2014 and picks her top ten women of the year – at home and abroad – from the worlds of music, TV, sport, politics and everyday life here in York.

Jo Pavey

She is an inspiration to all of us, proving that neither age nor motherhood can stop us from achieving our goals. Her fantastic gold medal win in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Zurich at the age of 40 was a highlight in the sporting year and her third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year was well deserved.

Nicola Sturgeon

She has stepped into big shoes taking on the SNP leadership and becoming the First Minister for Scotland, following Alex Salmond’s resignation in the wake of the knife-edge referendum. British politics could do with more accomplished female politicians like her.

Eve Muirhead

This cool-headed Scot had us holding our breath as she guided the British female curling team to a bronze medal win in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – and generated a whole new fanbase for this fringe sport.

Malala Yousafzai

At 17, this Pakistani teenager is the youngest-ever recipient of a Nobel Prize, which was in honour of her work as an education campaigner. Quite a feat coming just two years after she was shot in the head by the Taliban in her homeland.

Lynda Bellingham

The much-loved actor died of bowel cancer in October and earned praise for her bravery in talking openly about the disease and her decision to stop treatment. Her memoir, There’s Something I’ve Been Dying to Tell You, was a best-seller.


For filling our summer with her smash hit pop song Hideaway (not to mention her brilliantly choreographed one-take video to boot).

Nancy Birtwhistle

This 60-year-old gran from Lincolnshire saw off all competition and beat the bookies’ odds to win this year’s series of the Great British Bake-Off. Nancy proved that no-nonsense, back-to-basics baking was the real deal and more than a match for the creative craziness of some of her fellow contestants on the most popular series yet of the show.

Sophie Jewett

York’s premier choco-preneur revealed at The Press’ Business Awards that chocolate making is to return to the former Terry’s site in York. Under her ambitious £1.3 million plan, York Chocolate Works will house a chocolate processing facility, visitor centre, educational and workshop facilities, cafe and shop as well as creating 20 new jobs.

Joyce Donkin

For 40 years Joyce has been a lollipop lady and was a well deserved-winner in this year’s Community Pride Awards from The Press. Not only does she keep an eye on the children crossing at Fishergate primary school, she has a friendly smile and word for all passers-by (including me!).

Grace Hucey

This popular Pilates and fitness instructor taught at venues across York for many years and died from cancer in October after a Herculean battle, in which she never lost her sense of humour or her interest in others. She was my friend too and she is much missed.