We’ve compiled a list of the most influential Coventry and Warwickshire females to have ever lived.
From Lady Godiva to a Game of Thrones actress, from an inspirational teenager who died after bravely battling cancer to a history buff who championed Coventry, we recognise the names who make us proud.
Here’s 15 of the most influential women in Coventry and Warwickshire today.
1. Pauline Black
Coventry ska group The Selecter, fronted by Pauline Black, notched up a handful of hit singles in the British charts, including Gangsters, On My Radio and Three Minute Hero.
The 2-Tone legend was also a driving force behind Coventry securing the title of UK City of Culture in 2021.
2. Sophie Turner
Leamington Game of Thrones actress with more than 1.8 million Twitter followers.
Sophie, who plays Sansa Stark in the US TV show, first appeared on stage at the age of three in an amateur production in Warwick.
She starred in X-Men: Apocalypse as superhero Jean Grey in 2016 and reprises her role in Dark Phoenix, out this year.
3. Louise Bennett
Chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce – a post she has held since February 2003.
She was instrumental in the formation of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), presenting the case to Government for the region to have an LEP.
4. Dame Laura Davies
England’s most accomplished female golfer of modern times.
The Coventry-born golfer has more than 85 professional wins worldwide, with 20 on the LPGA Tour, including four majors, and has won the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit a record seven times.
5. Ann Lucas
Grandmother who was Coventry City Council’s first woman leader and was at the helm from May 2013 to May 2016.
The Labour politician, who is a Coventry City Football Club fan, joined a white water rafting team to raise funds for cystic fibrosis and has done a parachute jump to raise funds for Baby Lifeline.
It has recently been announced that she will be Coventry’s Lord Mayor for its year as UK City of Culture 2021.
6. Izzi Seccombe
The Conservative politician first came to county politics in 2001.
7. Debbie Isitt
Comic writer and film director who grew up in Coventry.
Her work includes the four Nativity! Christmas films, Confetti and the ITV series Love and Marriage.
8. Hazel O’Connor
Coventry-born singer-songwriter and actress.
Hazel O’Connor became famous in the early 1980s with hit singles Eighth Day, D-Days and Will You, as well as starring in the film Breaking Glass.
9. Marion Plant
Principal and chief executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College.
Marion is also the chief executive of the Midland Academies Trust.
She joined the Department for Education as a non-executive board member in January 2015
10. Sinead Matthews
Coventry actress and former Cardinal Wiseman School pupil.
Sinead has starred in films including Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, and Pride & Prejudice.
11. Fleur Sexton
Fleur Sexton, joint managing director of Coventry-based PET-Xi Training, was crowned Businesswoman of the Year 2017.
Fleur risked everything in her quest to build one of the UK’s most successful training operations.
Her hard work paid off as she was named Businesswoman of The Year 2017 at the 35th annual Women of the Year Awards.
Sexton co-founded PET-Xi Training in 1995 from a spare bedroom in her family home in Coventry. It is now UK-wide, delivering learning programmes to schools and businesses and helping more than 100,000 youngsters across the country reach their academic potential.
12. Laura McMillan
Director of Operations and Legacy for Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021 year.
Laura was a key figure during the bidding process for the title of City of Culture, and was present in Hull when the decision to award Coventry the title took place live on the BBC’s The One Show.
13. Margaret Casely-Hayford
Chancellor of Coventry University, Chair of international development charity Action Aid UK and a Co-op board member.
Margaret was the first black woman in the UK to be made a partner at a City law firm, and became Coventry University’s first female Chancellor when she was appointed in 2017.
In 2008 The Black Power List named the Casely-Hayfords the most influential black family in the UK and in 2014 she was named Black British Business Person of the Year.
14. Catherine Ashton
Chancellor of Warwick University, appointed to the House of Lords in 1999.
She took up a role in the Department of Education in 2001, and as sole Minister in the House of Lords responsible for all education legislation.
In 2008 Lady Ashton was appointed Trade Commissioner for the European Union.
15. Chenine Bhathena
Creative Director, Coventry 2021, UK City of Culture.
She was appointed in April 2018 and was tasked with delivering the City of Culture year to the city.
Chenine has significant experience in delivering programmes to a huge audience, as she was previously the Creative Programmer for London 2012.