Yorkshire Evening Post Published Date: 20 June 2009

Yorkshire's special women have been celebrated at one of the region's most prestigious events. Jayne Dawson reports

WOMAN OF ACHIEVEMENT award: Jackie Whiteley

A woman who has built up a successful business and inspired others despite personal tragedy has been named Yorkshire Woman of Achievement. Jackie Whiteley, who runs Strulch UK, a company that manufactures a mulch for use in organic gardening, received her award in front of four hundred women at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Each year the Women of Achievement Awards recognise women who have made a contribution to the lives of others at an event which raises money for Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley, Leeds. This year's lunch and awards ceremony is expected to have raised more than £20,000. Judges said Jackie, who was also the winner of the business award, was chosen not only because of her success in the traditionally male-dominated world of manufacturing but also because of her inspirational attitude. Jackie, whose business is based in Burley in Wharfedale, became a mother aged twenty but went on to study for many qualifications and hoped to become a lawyer. But her life was halted by the death of her son Matthew, who died in his early twenties. Jackie spiralled into a severe depression, but she fought her way back to health and set up her business. She said: "The worst thing has already happened so I am free to push the boundaries and see where I can get to. "I decided I would never be mentally ill again. I intend to live a long life and don't think I could ever retire. I feel younger in my fifties than I did in my thirties. My son's death freed my from self-imposed restraints about what was possible. "People who knew me before Matthew's death tell me I am not the same person." Those who nominated her said: "There are few people who stare the unthinkable in the face and have the courage and determination to rebuild their lives. "Jackie has done that."