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Catholic Women of the Year Awards 2012

Jo Siedlecka

Jo Siedlecka

The Catholic Women of the Year for 2012 have been chosen. They are:

Josephine Siedlecka, founding editor of Independent Catholic News; Bron Soane, founder of Aid to the Children of El Salvador and Maureen Meacher, former head of Religious Studies at the Marist School, Sunninghill.

Josephine Siedlecka says she began Independent Catholic News in 2000, as a response to the Millenium call of Blessed John Paul inviting lay Catholics to play a greater role in evangelisation. She was working as a journalist in the mainstream press at the time and felt there was a need for more coverage of Catholic and Christian issues in the media. Finding professional website designers too expensive, she sought help from friends, attended evening classes, learnt the skills, and built the site with a group of volunteers - running it alongside her day job - from her small flat in north London. The design has been kept simple so that people in the developing world, with older computers, are able to access it. The daily on-line news service (, contributed to by dozens of journalists, now receives more than 4.5 million visits a month and has a growing following worldwide.

Bron Soane who founded a charity Aid to the Children of El Salvador (ACES) following a visit to the country where she was moved by the suffering of children made homeless and destitute by the civil war. She taught herself Spanish, lodged with some sisters, and established a home where 100 children found a refuge. She later sold her own property in Wales to fund a project for street-children, in which volunteers contact children who are being sexually exploited or involved in drugs or glue-sniffing and welcome them to a day-centre where they can recieve education, help, and training so that they can enter a mainstream school. Her other ventures have include a refuge for girls where they can live as a family while attending school.

Maureen Meacher, former head of Religious Studies at the Marist School in Sunninghill, a stalwart of the Union of Catholic Mothers, and a worker for a number of charities including the Crossroads Caring for Carers of which she is a Trustee. She was nominated by former teaching colleagues who valued her dedication, competence, tact, warmth and kindness to her pupils, and a number of local people in her parish for her support of people with disabilities and for the friendship and support given to many people facing personal difficulties.

The Catholic Women of the Year Luncheon will be honoured at the annual Luncheon, which this year takes place on October 8th. The guest speaker will be Edmund Adamus who will speak on "Blessed John Paul's legacy: love and life". Funds raised will go to the Maryvale Institute.


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