Sue Johnson Named Health and Science Winner in the Next Woman of the Year Awards
October 6, 2011
Sue Johnson named Health and Science category winner in the Next Woman of the Year awards, in association with Pandora
Sue Johnson was tonight announced as the Health and Science category winner in the Next Woman of the Year Awards, in association with Pandora, at a star-studded ceremony held at the Auckland Art Gallery.
Less than 48 hours after the February earthquake in Christchurch, Sue appeared at a press conference to reassure the nation that victims were being treated with respect and dignity. Working huge hours, she ensured the processes at the mortuary were carried out with integrity and sensitivity. A mother and grandmother, she also met with everyone from government agencies to community groups to keep them updated on progress.
The judging panel, comprised of Dame Catherine Tizard, Dr Gareth Morgan and Next editor Sarah Henry, remarked on Sue’s professionalism, clear thinking and empathy – which was invaluable at a time of crisis. “She made a very special contribution to Christchurch in her work as coroner after the earthquakes,” Dame Catherine says. “Her words of support and re-assurance aided people to understand that everything possible was being done to rescue the living and recover the bodies of those caught in the disaster.”
“It’s been said before that coroners speak for the dead to help the living,” Sue says. “It’s a huge responsibility and I feel very humbled being in that role.”
The honour of the ultimate Woman of the Year award went to Lesley Elliott, mother of murdered university student Sophie Elliott, for her impassioned efforts to change the country’s attitude towards abuse and violence within relationships.
The judges felt Lesley encompassed all the traits they were looking for in the Woman of the Year. They commented on her unbelievable courage and resilience, adding she is a beacon to us all. They noted Lesley has given something to the women of New Zealand that her late daughter would have been exceptionally proud of.
Since forming the Sophie Elliott Foundation in a bid to address horrific rates of domestic abuse in New Zealand, Lesley has juggled her relentless and unpaid work for the foundation with her nursing job at Dunedin Public Hospital. Every week the 64-year-old travels around the country educating schools and community groups about signs of domestic violence.
As well as taking out the supreme Woman of the Year title, Lesley is also the Community category winner.
The category winners are:
Arts and Culture: Jill Marshall, author and publisher
Business: Mai Chen, lawyer
Health and Science: Sue Johnson, Christchurch coroner
Sport: Jayne Parsons, Paralympian
Community: Lesley Elliott, founder of the Sophie Elliott Foundation