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TWIG Networking Lunch Raises €100,000 For Colleagues In Need

By Sarah O'Sullivan
TWIG Networking Lunch Raises €100,000 For Colleagues In Need

Today’s Women in Grocery (TWIG) raised €100,000 for the Irish Grocers’ Benevolent Fund (IGBF) at its annual networking lunch.

The funds raised for the IGBF will be used to help those in the sector going through testing times.

The event, which took place at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre on Friday 3 May, raised €25,000 on the day from the raffle alone.

‘Defining You’

With an attendance of 624 and a previously announced panel of impressive speakers, it was the largest TWIG event to date.

An insightful panel discussion, with the theme ‘Defining You’, was a highlight.


It featured Michelle Vance of Lily O’Brien’s, Charlene Flanagan of Ella & Jo Cosmetics, Maeve McCleane of Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland, Sinéad Crowther of Soothing Solutions, and Brendan Courtney of Lennon Courtney.

Sonya Lennon emceed the event and invited members of the panel to share their journeys to success in the industry.

Vance said that she had never considered being a CEO until the opportunity unexpectedly presented itself some years ago at the artisanal chocolate company.

As the pandemic was starting, she accepted the role and decided to embrace it, so “values and culture” would remain.

Vance noted the testing time of Covid-19, but said, “We are now back to pre-Covid sales [with a 30% increase in retail sales last year], but the next high hurdle we are facing is the cost of cocoa and other input materials, which are up to 130% higher.”


Crowther set up Soothing Solutions after her son suffered an accident, and she decided that it was time to put her ideas in motion.

“I think what defines me is that I am from Finglas,” she said, “which I’m proud of, and I have fought for everything – like grants and opportunities to pitch – along the way.”

Courtney, of Lennon Courtney, said that he “stands shoulder to shoulder with women” as the first Irish TV presenter to come out as gay, in 1991.

He said, “I am not an amazing leader, but Sonya [Lennon, his business partner] is.

“I just come up with ideas and note them down or text them to her. She is the one that makes it all happen, and I’m so lucky in that regard!”


‘Strength To Strength’

Mary McBride, head of retail at Bewley’s Coffee and chair of TWIG, said that she was proud to be in a huge room of attendees after humble beginnings of 160 guests at the first TWIG lunch in 2016.

McBride said, “We are all very lucky to be here today. There are many less fortunate than us, and it is through the initiatives and fundraising of TWIG and the IGBF that we strive to help and assist those who need it most.

“It’s fantastic to see the TWIG annual networking lunch go from strength to strength each year and become a ‘must attend’ calendar event for the grocery, food and retail sector.

“I would like to thank the TWIG committee for all their support in hosting our largest and most successful event since we began in 2016, and a big thank-you to all our sponsors for continuing to support this fundraising lunch and the IGBF charity.”

McBride announced Estelle Johnston from Diageo Ireland as the TWIG Person of the Year for 2024.


Sponsored by CPM and in its second year, the award looks to recognise the unsung heroes of the industry.

It highlights those who are instrumental in delivering success behind the scenes, but whose contributions may not always be visible to the wider industry.

Johnston will now benefit from a year-long coaching and mentoring programme worth €2,000.

Musgrave, Diageo, CPM, and Suntory Beverage and Food Ireland sponsored this year’s event.

Read More: Today’s Women In Grocery Announces Speaker Line-Up For 2024 Fundraiser

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