Praise for ‘great talent’ chief executive

Donna Hall and Grace Dyke at the Northern Power Women Awards
Donna Hall and Grace Dyke at the Northern Power Women Awards

Wigan Council’s chief executive has been singled out for a praise by a government minister as among the country’s “greatest talents”.

Northern Powerhouse minister James Wharton has written to Donna Hall following her triumph at a recent awards ceremony.

Ms Hall, who assumed the reins at the town hall in 2012, claimed the Transformational Leader award last month at the first ever Northern Power Women Awards.

Mr Wharton, MP for Stockton South, wrote: “We would like to congratulate you on your success at the Northern Power Women Awards – we were delighted to support this campaign, and we were pleased to see your achievement celebrated.”

The letter, co-written by Melanie Dawes, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), added: ““It is no secret that the North has a proud history of producing some of the very best role models. Pioneers like Amy Johnson, activists including Emmeline Pankhurst and artists like Barbara Hepworth.

“To this day the North of England still produces some of the country’s greatest talent – of which you have been recognised for being an example– and we intend to build on this through our efforts to rebalance the economy by creating a Northern Powerhouse.”

Ms Hall was recognised at the awards for being “a leading voice and advocate for gender inequality” through her work behind the council’s Believe In Her campaign, according to the town hall.

Donna said: “I am very proud to have started the #BelieveInHer campaign which has been successful in inspiring females of all ages in the borough to keep pushing for equality and not be ashamed of their ambition or their talent.

“The fact that men continue to make up the majority of those in the highest paid and most senior roles in the UK – with there being just five female chief executives in the FTSE 100 – shows there’s still a long way to go.

“The recognition I’ve received through the Northern Power Women award and from the minister is a really great way to highlight the campaign and shows that in Wigan Borough we are standing up for equality and diversity and are working hard to cast sexist views and discrimination into the history books.”

Ms Hall was not the only Wigan-based woman to succeed at the awards. Grace Dyke, director of PR and communications agency Yellow Jigsaw, won the One to Watch category, for her successful women in business campaign #imnotjohn that reached half a million people. The Springfield 27-year-old said: “I am delighted the #imnotjohn campaign has been given such recognition, and I will be taking further steps to help secure gender equality. The Northern Power Women movement has illustrated the vast amount of talent and passion in the north - and it is great that Wigan is flying the flag for Greater Manchester.”

The leader of Wigan Council, Lord Smith, said: “Since becoming the chief executive, Donna Hall has made a massive impression both inside and outside the borough. She’s helped transform the way the council operates.”

Believe In Her, launched last year, has been backed by a number of leading figures in the borough.

Jenny Meadows, European and world medallist 800m runner, said: “I’m really proud to be part of the campaign.

“I just want all the females out there to know that if they work really hard believe in yourself you can achieve your dreams.”