Awards ceremony finalists with organiser Karen Phillips (far left)

Awards ceremony finalists with organiser Karen Phillips (far left)

Exceptional local women were honoured at an awards ceremony on last night (November 18) at the inaugural Downs Women in Business Awards. The ceremony and celebrations took place at Gips Restaurant, where the region’s business leaders, politicians and media turned out to hear the winners announced.

Highlife Magazine is thrilled to congratulate the winners: The Downs Woman in Business of the Year was awarded to Brooke Pugh, Director of Condon Charles Lawyers in Toowoomba; The Downs Community Dedication Award was awarded to Julia Keogh from Warwick and the Rising Star Award was awarded to local jewellery designer, Tiona Pemberton.

Awards Executive director Karen Phillips said the calibre of nominations had been extremely high and diverse, showcasing the broad spectrum of successful and talented visionaries making a difference across the region. “We are focused on inspiring business women who embody leadership qualities and embrace the principles of corporate social responsibility and The Downs was selected given its continued growth in female-led enterprises.”

The awards were open to women of the Downs region, including Toowoomba,Dalby, Warwick, Stanthorpe, Wallangarra, Goondiwindi, Oakey, Miles, Pittsworth, Allora, Clifton, Cecil Plains, Drayton, Millmerran, Nobby, and Chinchilla. The awards encourage ambition, empower confidence and inspire new female leaders now and into the future. This year, category finalists and winners took home over $13,000 in prizes.

Read more about the award winners and finalists:

The Downs 2015 Woman in Business of the Year
This category honour the region’s inspiring innovators and visionaries. Open to entrepreneurs who have achieved accomplishments of significance over their career, nominees will possess qualities of vision, innovation, entrepreneurial drive, leadership, individuality, tenacity and demonstrate their commitment to gender diversity.

Award Winner:
Brooke Pugh, Director of Condon Charles Lawyers in Toowoomba.
Brooke Pugh was selected for The Downs Woman in Business of the Year Award because of her leadership, vision to create an affordable mediation centre in Toowoomba and commitment to various schools and committees in the region. Over the course of her career, Brooke has gained extensive experience in the areas of litigation, court advocacy, criminal law and family law including being the first female lawyer in Toowoomba to gain the Specialist Accreditation in Family Law. In 2014, Brooke opened the Toowoomba Family Law Centre catering to mediation services allowing clients to engage in a holistic approach to the separation and post separation process. Brooke’s vision for the Centre is that it will provide a hub for alternative dispute resolution for family law matters, with experienced legally qualified mediators who are able to assist parties in reaching mutually beneficial agreements and arrangements. It is also Brooke’s vision that this centre will also

allow for more collaborative law style practice to be engaged drawing from a range of professions to provide clients with a holistic approach to their issues, including in the future, providing services as a parenting coach. Brooke has also made commitments to various schools across the region by providing work experience opportunities for their students and she is currently the Family Law Lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland. She is also the President of the Toowoomba Children’s Contact Centre Executive Committee and

The finalists:
Roslyn Sutton, Owner Sutton’s Juice Factory & Cidery
Beau Minnett, Minx Contemporary Hair Boutique Toowoomba


The Downs Community Dedication Award 2015
Proudly Presented by THE GOOD GUYS
This category recognises the candidate’s contribution to the community or cause. The entrants will demonstrate dedication to the region through her current & past charity and voluntary work and community endeavours.

Award Winner:
Julia Keogh, Warwick
Born in Warwick, Julia grew up with her head figuratively and literally in the clouds. Julia spent her childhood exploring Warwick by horse then light aircraft, courtesy of her pilot father. Flying a Cessna 152 solo at 15 years 9 months proved to be a catalyst for adventures to come. A community services professional for over 20 years, Julia has held senior positions in the sector including her work with the Red Cross Community Services sector in QLD. Her expertise lies in leading teams through strength based strategies to achieve improved outcomes for vulnerable people throughout Queensland. Julia is the current President of the ‘for purpose’ Warwick Collective Inc, team member of WoW (Women of Warwick) co-founding member of both CNoW (Community Network of Warwick) and BNoW (Business Network of Warwick), Support Facilitator, Partners in Recovery and owner/operator of ESN Solutions which specialises in commercial cleaning solutions as well as a volunteer in a diverse range of community, health focused and business development groups in the Southern Downs region.

Kim Nipperess, Toowoomba
Laura Scurr, Toowoomba


Rising Star Award
This Special Award honours the entrepreneurial spirit, the courage, self-belief and tenacity needed to believe in your dreams, to follow your heart and forge your own path to greatness.

Award Winner:
Tiona Pemberton, Toowoomba
This is remarkable story of a young woman following her dream and passion.
At the age of 18, Tiona Pemberton founded ‘Mallow & Thyme’ in July 2014 to support her financially while studying at university. Mallow and Thyme is a designer jewellery label which features beautiful unique artistic designs, the most renowned of which are the crystal necklaces which she artistically creates by hand. After only operating for a year, she’s grown ‘Mallow & Thyme’ from a small online store to an emerging multidimensional business. In February 2015 she was invited to attend a celebrity gifting ceremony commemorating the 2015 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Leading up to the event the overwhelming belief from family, friends and the Toowoomba community rallying behind her, helped her get to LA and achieve this incredible milestone which included having to design 150 handcrafted pieces before she headed over. Now that she’s cracked the international market, she sells frequently to the US, UK and has 3 current stockists in Australia all whilst completing her full time degree at QUT in Nutrition. Though her work, she has collaborated with other local artists, learnt at a very young age to work with both the local community and international celebrity sectors showing tenacity, entrepreneurial and an unrivaled determination to succeed. Now aged 20, she can’t wait to see how she can develop the business further and to incorporate her desire to help others in the community just as they supported her.