Carole Swarbrick has won two SheInspires 2021 awards after she was recognised for her work in education for over 40 years with a Lifetime Achievement award.

On top of that, Carole, who is originally from Blackhall and was educated in Hartlepool, also snatched the award for North West Woman of the Year – much to her surprise.

Carole Swarbrick (centre) with Prof. George E Holmes DL and Annabel Tiffin.

The former special needs teacher said: “I was delighted to win that, but then I actually was given the North West Woman of the Year award, so that was really exciting.

“It was the icing on the cake.

“I was thrilled with the awards.”

The annual SheInspires awards celebrate women who have made a positive difference to their communities.

For the first time this year, the award entries were also open to women from across the world.

Carole has revealed she didn’t tell her two sons, Tom and Peter, about the nominations, because she didn’t think she would win.

She explained: “I’ve got two sons and I’d not said anything to them, because I just didn’t think that I would win the Lifetime Achievement award, because I knew some of the others, who had been nominated and I thought ‘oh, no’.

“It was a surprise. I knew I had been nominated for the Lifetime Achievement award, but with North West Woman of the Year, that just came out of the blue and I was absolutely delighted with that.”

Carole, 67, used to teach at St Bede’s Roman Catholic School, in Peterlee, before moving to Manchester in 1976 and then to Bolton in 1982.

In 2015 she became mayor of Bolton and after her retirement was made an Honorary Alderman and received an Honorary Doctorate by Bolton University.

But the former Henry Smith Grammar pupil has said she has kept her connections in the Hartlepool area and still visits often.

“I still have strong attachment to the area and come often,” said Carole.

She added: “I am very grateful for the thing that the area taught me, especially about volunteering, education, giving back to the community.”