Twelve female leading lights of the North East business world were given top honours at a special ceremony witnessed by 300 guests at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Organised by the North East England Chamber of Commerce, the Inspiring Females Awards acknowledged businesswoman at all career stages and from around the region.

Steph McGovern, Channel 4 TV show host of Steph's Packed Lunch, received an award as the woman who made the Most Outstanding Contribution to the North East.

In the larger business section, the award for Top Female was presented to Angela MacOscar from Northumbrian Water, with Northumbria Police’s Joscelin Lawson being highly commended. The Most Inspiring Employer was given to Northumbrian Water, which operates out of Pity Me in County Durham.

Alix Bolton, Chair of the Women's Leadership Forum, said: "The Chamber was delighted to organise these awards to celebrate the fantastic female talent all around our region who support their colleagues. Our winners are awe-inspiring examples of female strength and achievement. What they have in common is working hard with grit and determination to succeed. Congratulations to all of those who took home an award and also to everyone who made it onto the shortlist. They all contribute so much to our region’s success and set tremendous examples for other businesswomen on their own career journey.”

The Inspiring Female for Small Businesses Award was won by Nicola Wood. She runs the Wonderful Wig company based in Sunderland and Newcastle, whose wig services are particularly targeted towards those undergoing cancer treatment.

Female entrepreneurs who trade internationally were also recognised, with the award for the Most Inspiring Female (Global) going to Annie Barr of the Stocksfield-based AB Health Group.

The overall awards were sponsored by Bernicia, with individual awards supported by Esh Group, North East BIC, NE Times, Britishvolt, Hartlepool College, Teesside University and Muckle LLP.