Lisa Salmon has won the coveted title of Woman of Substance 2009. Barbara Taylor Bradford announced the news at a star-studded event on Thursday night and the Duchess of York presented her with the winning prize – a P&O cruise to a destination of her choice
The Woman of Substance Awards, which chose Target Ovarian Cancer as its partner charity, attracted a lot of media interest. Celebrities at the Dorchester Hotel glitzy awards ceremony included Cherie Blair, Esther Rantzen, Aggie MacKenzie, Kate Adie, Jenny Seagrove and Gaby Roslin, who represented Target Ovarian Cancer. Target Ovarian Cancer's Guests of honour, Sophie Fry, aged eight years and Eilish Colclough also attended.
Lisa, 42, from Leeds, was chosen by a panel of judges that included publishers Harper Collins, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanna Barker, the founder of Target Ovarian Cancer. She had to go extensive facial reconstruction after she was nearly killed in a collision with a 30 tonne lorry in 2001. She became virtually blind and went on tragically to lose her two-day-old son, Connor in 2003. Her life has not been easy - she had rheumatoid arthritis as a toddler, lost her father when she was just 11 and discovered she had a potentially fatal blood clot in her leg during a holiday.
The Woman of Substance Awards recognizes women who fight to overcome adversity. Lisa said afterwards that she has not wasted time on self pity - instead, she considers herself lucky to have husband Mark Walker and two healthy sons, Joel, five, and Cristian, three. She also has regained some of the sight in one eye after a cataract operation.
"I'm nothing special. I've just got on with it," she told the Press Association, where she and her husband work.
The awards were launched to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Taylor Bradford's debut novel, A Woman of Substance, which was first published in 1979. The story follows Emma Harte's journey from life as a servant in rural Yorkshire to heading a business empire, despite numerous personal tragedies along the way.
“We are thrilled to have been part of the Woman of Substance Awards 2009,” said Director of Communications, Jerry Doyle. “ Congratulations to Lisa for winning. We are very pleased for her after all that she has been through. We hope her story gives some strength to the many amazing women out there who are battling against ovarian cancer and who are an inspiration to us all.”
The family of Wendy Morris, who had ovarian cancer, was also honoured at the Woman of Substance ceremony with a posthumous award. Daughter Hayley Fahy said: " Despite being ill she wrote to ITV's This Morning asking them to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and a week before having surgery she appeared on the show and did a fantastic job."