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Exclusive: When Cherie Blair met Sarah Brown

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As always, the Asian Women of Achievement awards, held in association with Lloyds TSB, drew major celebrity names to present awards across nine categories. Inspirational stories of achievements across professional, public sector, business and artistic life were celebrated in the presence of many dignitaries.

One of the night’s biggest surprises was the appearance of First Lady Sarah Brown, who welcomed guests and praised the achievements of "unsung" Asian women in Britain.

Later, awards’ patron Cherie Booth praised founder Pinky Lilani and remarked on her ability to get a "prime minister’s wife" to each awards so far.

Many eyes were, of course, on fashion icon Elizabeth Hurley, who didn’t disappoint eager guests as she arrived resplendent in purple. The Daily Mail this morning wonders whether the curvy number wasn’t an indication that she might be pregnant again. OK! magazine says Liz turned back the clock to her famous 1994 safety-pin dress.

Princess Badiya of Jordan, noted supporter of humanitarian causes and herself a qualified barrister, presented the Social and Humanitarian award to Bala Thakrar.

Drawing a gasp of appreciation from the audience, the world-renowned Dr Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans, made the presentation of the Arts & Culture award to celebrated choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh.

Other VIP guests included a bevvy of TV talent such as ITN’s Katie Derham; the BBC’s Mishal Husain, who compered the night; and Riz Lateef of London Tonight. Nina Wadia, star of EastEnders and former AWA winner, was pipped to the Arts & Culture award.

The final award of the night, the Lloyds TSB AWA award, went to operatic pioneer Wasfi Kani, the creator of Grange Park Opera. Presenting the award, Baroness Valerie Amos said: "She is a formidable entrepreneur and fund-raiser; a musical visionary; and a woman of deep compassion who uses her art for a social good."

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