A POLICE officer who has dedicated his working life to helping victims of domestic abuse won the Gender Equality Champion accolade at the Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards 2021.

For the first time at Womenspire, there was one award (Gender Equality Champion award) open to nominees of any gender.

Mike Taggart, of Rhyl, strategic domestic abuse officer in the North Wales police force, deservedly so secured the award for his focus on helping others to not be bystanders to domestic abuse.

Mike, an ambassador for the white ribbon campaign, was appointed MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2021 list.

He states clearly that domestic abuse affects all genders, though as a gendered crime he wants to empower men to stand up for women.

Mike was inspired to take on this role after his mother was murdered by his step father. He believes that you don’t necessarily need to physically intervene, you can be a voice for people who feel they can’t speak up.

Remarkable women from the area picking up awards included Nikki Sibeon, who lives in Holywell but does her Taekwondo training in Prestatyn.

Nikki Sibeon who lives in Holywell but does her Taekwondo training in Prestatyn

Nikki Sibeon who lives in Holywell but does her Taekwondo training in Prestatyn

Nikki won the Woman in Sport category. Nikki had an undetected genetic condition which left her blind at the age of 21 but she has go on to become a blackbelt in Taekwondo and champion ice-skater.

When Nikki’s local ice rink become a rainbow hospital during the pandemic, she sorted the necessary arrangements to travel on trains to alternative rinks, where she meets friends and her coach.

Amal Alkhatib, of Rhyl, was named a finalist in the Learner category as well as Gemma Campbell of Rhos on Sea.

Amal left school at 18 to study nursing and was a qualified midwife for seven years in Syria before having to move with her family to Lebanon. Having been moved five times in the five years she was there, Amal came to the UK as a refugee. When she arrived in the UK, she had zero English but took up lessons in 2016 at Llandrillo College.

Amal Alkhatib of Rhyl. Learner category finalist

Amal Alkhatib of Rhyl. Learner category finalist

Cerys Furlong, chief executive, Chwarae Teg, said: “This is our sixth Womenspire awards and once again it has been incredible to hear the stories of all our finalists and their magnificent achievements. At Chwarae Teg we know how important it is that these accomplishments are highlighted. I must congratulate all the finalists, winners and everyone involved and say a big thank you for making Womenspire 2021 such a success."

The Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards 2021 was streamed across Facebook and Twitter on September 30. Winners and finalists who are making a difference to others and their communities were celebrated.

The event was presented by Andrea Byrne of ITV Cymru Wales and Welsh actress and presenter Elin Pavli-Hinde.

The biggest winner on the night was Doctor and scientist Bnar Talabani who has been at the forefront of the effort to tackle uncertainty and misinformation around the Covid-19 vaccine.

She received the Woman in Health and Care Award as well as the overall title of Womenspire Champion 2021 having impressed the judges with her warmth, incredible resilience, determination and fearlessness in the face of adversity.

Arriving in the UK as a child refugee from Iraq back in 1998, her harrowing start in life could never have foretold her brilliant future. Bnar has been at the forefront of the effort to tackle uncertainty and misinformation around the Covid-19 vaccine. Filling a void she saw in the availability of information in different languages for ethnic minorities, she was instrumental in the formation of Muslim Doctors Cymru. And when she’s not on the ground fighting vaccine hesitancy, you can find her on TikTok dispelling myths.

Cerys added: "Bnar’s place as Womenspire Champion reflects the immense barriers she’s had to overcome and the fact that, through hard work and determination, she has made immeasurable differences to her own life as well as the lives of others. She is a brave and incredible role model.”

Others celebrated in North Wales included Jessica Evans (Llangollen) who was a finalist in the Community Champion category and Ffion Wylie (Llangefni), a finalist in the Woman in Health and Care category.

In previous years the Gender Equality Champion award had been for an organisation or business. In 2021, it was changed to recognise a person who has taken a proactive approach within their own workplace - to support women and close the gender divide.