A Southampton woman has been celebrated at the sixth Ladies First Professional Development Network Business Awards.

Heather Ennes, of the Whitehorse Maritime Academy, received recognition with the Rising Star and Future Leader Award.

Ms Ennes won the awards for her work as freelance seafarer whilst juggling being a mum of four children.

Ms Ennes has not only shown dedication in her roles but also made significant strides in a male-dominated industry where merely 2 per cent of seafarers are women.

Apart from her normal duties, she has also taken on the role of project manager for the Careers at Sea Ambassador Programme relaunch.

Despite the challenges of lockdown, Ms Ennes has coordinated numerous online events for schools and groups, promoting the Merchant Navy.

Heather Ennes, of Whitehorse Maritime Academy, won the Rising Star and Future Leader Award  (Image: Supplied)

She often gives up her free time to guide young seafarers on their career paths.

Given her status in the industry, Ms Ennes has also been asked to participate in panels and provide insight from the female perspective in seafaring.

She received the Merchant Navy Medal for meritorious service.

Ms Ennes said: "I'm completely in awe and humbled that during my finalist's interview, the judges, who knew nothing about the Merchant Navy and the Maritime industry as a whole, chose me as their winner.

"They could see exactly how passionate I am about a career at sea and to what lengths I will go to in order to spread the word." 

Ms Ennes' nomination form states: "She has incredible resilience and hasn’t let any challenge knock her down for long.

"Even when she works away at sea for weeks at a time, she has still managed to keep that work life balance well with the support of her husband.

"She is an inspiration to any women in business juggling family life and a career while not losing herself to either one."

The awards ceremony took place on June 13 and was attended by 400 people at the Dallas Burston Polo Club in Southam, with Kirsty Leahy, Karen Jones and ‘Roberto' hosting the event.

Ladies First directors Tracey McAtamney and Karen Massey said: "It was a phenomenal evening celebrating the achievements of women, men, and future young influencers in business.

"We couldn't be more proud of this inspiring event."