Challenging perceptions: Funny Women’s Charity Challenge

Funny Women launches 10th Anniversary Charity Challenge!

Challenging Perceptions: Thursday 8th March 2012, International Women’s Day,Grange Hotel, St Paul’s, City of London

Who says women aren’t funny?

Funny Women, the leading female comedy brand in the UK, celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year by challenging 10 high profile women from the worlds of business, media and academia to perform stand up for the first time in their lives. 10 women will be performing a stand-up Comedy Challenge supporting 10 charitable causes helped by 10 women’s networks.

The event, which will be hosted by television presenter and founder of Goodypass Kate Garraway, takes place on Thursday 8th March 2012, International Women’s Day, in the luxurious surroundings of the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in the City of London.

‘If this is the future of womanly comedy,
then it’s in safe, exciting hands.’

Tim Arthur, Time Out

Names such as Charlie Webster from Sky Sports News, the Daily Mail’s sex columnist Rowan Pelling and ‘Queen of Networking’ Carole Stone are just three of the brave women who have agreed to try their hand at stand-up in support of great causes.  Most of the Challengers have experience of public speaking but performing a comedy routine in front of an audience is a different matter.  Funny Women will help all the Challengers with training based on their popular comedy workshops and with help from female comedians – people who make their living from stand-up.

Challenger Vanessa Vallely, senior business manager at Aviva Investors and founder of We Are the City, comments, “ I absolutely support the great work that Funny Women does in terms of encouraging women into comedy and giving women confidence through the use of humour. I am honoured to be taking part and share the stage with so many other wonderful women. “

‘A superb champion of talent.’
Shane Allen, head of comedy, Channel 4

Not only are the 10 names being challenged to try to be a stand-up comedian for the evening  they are each raising funds from the task for their individual favourite charity.  And they are not alone in this effort – each challenger has the help of 10 of the UK’s most well connected women’s networks.   Founder and director of the National Black Women’s Network, Sonia Brown, says, “I am so proud to be leveraging my various networks and contacts to support the work of the Sickle Cell Society. As someone who has built a business around getting diverse women to come together to talk for positive change, why not make them laugh too!”

“We want to stage an event that really benchmarks what Funny Women stands for after 10 years in the industry,” explains founder and executive producer, Lynne Parker.  “Some extremely high profile professional women use humour to good effect, just like their male colleagues, but it’s not seen as a worthy attribute in the same way.  We launched our public workshops and our business brand three years ago and we’ve seen some brilliant new talent emanate from both.

“So, we want to Challenge perceptions with this very special 10th Anniversary event by demonstrating how women from all walks of life use humour and raise lots of money for some amazing causes at the same time. Over the years we’ve encouraged women to perform comedy in aid of charity when they might otherwise not have felt confident and we’re so grateful to the amazing networks and women who have agreed to take part in the Charity Challenge.”

Tickets to the event are now on sale at and include drinks reception, three course meal with wine plus entertainment from last year’s Funny Women Awards winner Lara A King.

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 Event sponsors include Grange Hotels,, Radio Gorgeous and WeGotTickets

Tickets cost £100 plus VAT for an individual ticket and £900 plus VAT for a table of 10.


Carole Stone

Author, broadcaster and founder of YouGovStone, has won the inaugural IoD and O2 ‘Britain’s Best Connected Woman’ prize. Known as the ‘Queen of Networking’, Carole has amassed more than 40,000 names in her contacts database and written two successful books on the subject – Networking: The Art of Making Friends and The Ultimate Guide to Successful Networking.

Carole is supported by Women in Journalism and is raising funds for The Victoria Foundation

Vanessa Vallely

Currently head of business management for Finance, Strategy & Legal at Aviva Investors, Vanessa is also the founder of We Are the City, a free website providing city and female-centric information to the 70,000 women who work in the City and Canary Wharf. She recently won the Women in Banking and Finance Champion for Women Award which recognises the person who through personal commitment, application and dedication promotes and inspires women in the workplace to reach their full potential.

Vanessa is supported by We are the City and is raising funds for Wellbeing for Women

Hela Wozniak Kay & Annie Brooks

The only double act to take on the challenge, Annie and Hela co-founded Sister Snog, a networking group for movers and shakers – Sister Snog hosts over 30 sparkling business events a year. Members can interact directly with each other via a discrete and very private social network; create harmony by joining the choir, Sisters of Soul. Or be a guest on Annie & Hela’s weekly radio show, Sister Snog on Gas&Air on OnFM101.4. Sister Snog is a brand with a twist.

Hela and Annie are supported by Sister Snog and are raising funds for Dress for Success

Deb Leary MBE

CEO of Forensic Pathways, which provides advanced data analytics, forensic intelligence, forensic products, training and consultancy, Deb is also chair of the Midlands World Trade Forum, vice president of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs and deputy chair of the United Nations UK Global Compact.

Deb is supported by the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs and is raising funds for The Family Planning Association

Sonia Brown MBE

Founder and director of The National Black Women’s Network (NBWN) is a non-profit network organisation dedicated to raising the status and position of BAME women in all walks of life. The NBWN provides dynamic initiatives through network support; enabling women from diverse backgrounds and occupations to develop strong professional and social contacts; high quality training and education programmes; leadership and national recognition.

Sonia is being supported by the National Black Women’s Network and is raising funds for the Sickle Cell Society

Charlie Webster

A huge football fan, Charlie presented Real Madrid TV and Live Premier League football for ESPN for two seasons. Charlie currently presents on Sky Sports News, features on Sky Sports boxing show Ringside and has reported for BBC’s Football Focus in the 2010/11 Football season. Charlie has presented Live Speedway for Sky Sports for the past 3 years, and on various projects including GP2, F1 feeder race, for ITV and the UK School Games for C4. Most recently Charlie has presented the Olympic 2012 beach volleyball test event in Horse Guards Parade.

Charlie is being supported by Women in Film & TV and is raising funds for Women’s Aid

Kate Nustedt

Kate Nustedt joined Women for Women International as UK Executive Director in May 2009. She is an experienced global campaigner and has run high-profile campaigns on social justice, women’s rights, anti-poverty and environmental issues. Kate was a key part of the Labour Party’s campaign team that won the landslide general election in 1997, and she has since managed campaigns and communications teams at Greenpeace, ActionAid and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People. She was an Associate Partner with Brunswick Group, a leading public relations agency.

Kate is being supported by Soroptimist International and is raising funds for Women for Women

Dr Julie Greensmith

Julie, AKA ‘Doctor Thrill’ gets paid to indulge her passion for rollercoasters as part of serious research to devise entertainments that adapt to how we are feeling. Her talk was one of several arranged to enthuse and inspire undergraduate women attending the BCS Lovelace Colloquium at the University of Leeds in April 2009.

Dr Julie Greensmith is being supported by Women in Technology and is raising funds for the Angelus Foundation

Rowan Pelling

Rowan has contributed to a variety of newspapers and magazines, including regular columns for the Independent on SundayThe Mail on Sunday, GQ and Jack. She was a judge of the 2004 Man Booker Prize. She is now a columnist for the Daily Telegraph,

Rowan is being supported by Ladies at 11 and is raising funds for Children in Crisis

About Funny Women

Funny Women was set up in 2002 by Lynne Parker, as a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to a misogynistic comedy promoter she worked with in 2000.  The Funny Women Awards were launched in 2003 and are now the benchmark for women breaking into comedy.

The 2011 Awards were won overall by the ‘people pleasing’ Lara A King. There are now three main Awards including the Variety Award, won by sketch duo Ladies Live Longer, Louise Fitzgerald and Victoria Temple-Morris, in 2011 and our first Comedy Writing Award won by Christine Robertson launched in 2011.

Funny Women’s impact on the world of comedy is the alumni themselves.  Their success speaks volumes for the brand.  Previous winners include comic duo Thankless Child, Freya Slipper and Liz Black in 2010, 2009 victor and CBBC star, Miss London; Canadian Katherine Ryan in 2008; ‘Stand Up For The Week’ star Andi Osho in 2007; Suzy Bennett, who took the title in 2006; Debra-Jane Appelby, winner 2005; Zoe Lyons, who won in 2004, and Sarah Adams, who triumphed performing as Jade The Folk Singer in 2003. Other successful Funny Women Awards finalists include Gemma Whelan, Katie Wix, Anna Crilly, Bridget Christie, Susan Calman, Diane Morgan, Emma Fryer, Kerry Godliman, Wendy Wason, Sara Pascoe, Roisin Conaty and Holly Walsh as well as the multi award winning Sarah Millican.

One Reply to “Challenging perceptions: Funny Women’s Charity Challenge”

  1. It is wonderful to have this event help so many talented people every year get the recognition they deserve for making us smile. Being in the film industry I admit woman are funnier then men….but….the only thing that is important is new talent is what makes everything better. Great event!

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