Two Brighton politicians have won national awards for their role as women in public life.
Councillor Mary Mears, the former Conservative leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, was named Local Government Personality of the Year.
And Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, was named MP of the Year.
They were among ten winners at the Women in Public Life Awards which celebrate women leaders in society.
The awards, sponsored by Scottish Widows and Dods, also seek to recognise and promote the work of women in politics, business, the civil service and community leadership.
Councillor Mears, who represents Rottingdean Coastal and was praised as an outstanding role model, said: “I was so surprised I nearly fell off my chair. It was such a strong field.”
The award recognised her response to the council housing stock transfer ballot when tenants voted to keep the council as their landlord.
Councillor Mears oversaw the creation of Brighton and Hove Seaside Community Homes, which will lease a fraction of the council’s housing stock – subject to council approval on Friday (16 September).
The new housing company will then raise £30 million to fund a refurbishment of Brighton and Hove’s 12,500 council houses and flats.
Councillor Mears, who was first elected in 1992, also won praise for her work on the Brighton Gateway project.
This involved bringing together Network Rail and local businesses to improve the area that greets many visitors on their arrival in Brighton.
Both policies have been continued by the Greens since they won control of the council in May.
The Greens’ national leader Caroline Lucas beat Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, and Justine Greening, the Conservative MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, to win her award.
The organisers said: “Caroline was elected as the first ever Green Party MP in May 2010.
“This was a remarkable achievement against all the odds, providing inspiration to minor parties, to women and to ecologists.
“Caroline’s influence on people who have encountered her has been profound.
“She has already made her mark on Parliament, standing up against its outdated practices and tabling a number of motions and amendments which have gained cross-party support.”
Dr Lucas, who was previously a Member of the European Parliament for South East England, said: “I am delighted that my work as a Member of Parliament has been recognised in this way.
“It is an incredible honour to serve the people of Brighton Pavilion and I will continue to strive to be the strong and principled voice which our city deserves.
“Until we see far more women represented at senior levels in politics and industry, playing a far greater role in decision-making at the top, I think awards like these are an important way of highlighting and celebrating female achievement.”
This is not the first award that Dr Lucas has won.
She was named Newcomer of the Year in the Spectator magazine’s 2010 Parliamentarian of the Year Awards and Best All Rounder in the Total Politics End of Year MP Awards.