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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 November, 2003, 14:41 GMT
Honour for Welsh diva Bassey
Dame Shirley Bassey
Dame Shirley Bassey said her career had been tough
Welsh diva Dame Shirley Bassey has been honoured at the Welsh Woman of the Year Awards.

The singer - known for recording three James Bond themes - was given the lifetime achievement award at the ceremony in Cardiff.

She is the first person to ever receive the prize.

She said she was thinking of "packing it all in" but had now been made to change her mind.

"This year has been the most exciting of my career and to have this award to come at the end of the year is the icing on the cake," she said.

"There won't be another award that will top this," she added.

The Western Mail Welsh Woman of the Year Awards were launched in 1994.

If only we played rugby we'd win every time
Winner Sarah Cornelius
Their aim is to reflect and reinforce the changing roles of women by celebrating their achievements and the value of their contributions to the stability of Wales.

Dame Shirley said she was so proud to return to Wales for the award.

She said: "I'm Welsh and to be nominated speaks for itself. I'm being honoured by my country, my home, Cardiff."

She was born on 8 January 1937 in Cardiff's Tiger Bay.

She said that becoming a well-known singer had been tough.

"I think it's easier for girl singers now because of all the pop shows on television.

"They don't have the chance to learn the art that I had to develop. They are instantly famous but it's taken me 50 years and I don't know if they'd last 50 days."

Joshua Foundation
Sarah Cornelius
Sarah Cornelius dedicated her award to her son, Joshua

This year's overall winner was Sarah Cornelius from Llanharan, south Wales, who set up a charity called the Joshua Foundation in memory of her seven-year-old son Joshua who died in December 1998.

The charity provides holidays and experiences for children with terminal cancer.

Since it was launched, it has raised more than 700,000 and helped around 200 terminally ill children and their families.

Sarah, who is now officially Woman of the Year 2003, said she was overwhelmed by the award.

"I'm so proud to be standing here and to hold this title," she said. "Not just for me but for all the women."

She said that women in Wales were a force to be reckoned with.

"If only we played rugby we'd win every time," she said.

Past winners of the award include athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson.


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