Regional winners annouced
24th September 2018

Our Judges

Andrew Willcocks 

Andrew Willcocks is an international law and trade policy specialist who has worked in a wide range of national and international business contexts, including for the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, he originally practised as a litigation solicitor before specialising in international trade and regulatory tensions relating to the movement of people and goods across borders.

Andy Argyle

Andy Argyle is Head of Devolved Government and Infrastructure for KPMG in the Midlands. As part of this role he is leading KPMG’s relationship with the West Midlands Combined Authority and keeping close to the emerging devolution agenda. Prior to his regional government role Andy led the Transaction Services team in the Midlands and led a number of high profile deals including the disposal of JLR by Ford to Tata. A fluent German speaker he has also worked on numerous projects for German businesses in the UK and overseas.

Anthony Parkes, CCE
Executive Director, ICC World Chambers Federation (WCF)

Anthony Parkes became Director of the World Chambers Federation (WCF) in 1998 having previously served as a Senior Executive for Trade & Commercial Services at the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brisbane, Australia.

The World Chambers Federation is the unique global forum created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) for chamber leaders and senior executives to exchange experience and build relationships that ultimately lead to supporting chambers at a local level.

Mr Parkes oversees WCF work to ensure that chambers and their SME members benefit from ICC tools for trade and amplifies their collective voice in the work of the world business organization.

As its head, Mr Parkes leads WCF’s interactions with a variety of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), including the World Customs Organization, UN Global Compact Business 4 Peace, World Bank Group, UNDP, UN Procurement Division, UN Development Business, as well as a range of regional development banks.
As well his contributions to developing the World Chambers Competition and World Chamber Network (WCN), Mr Parkes has been instrumental to the success of the World Chambers Congress and in the worldwide outreach and forging of global partnerships with chambers.

Mr Parkes is responsible for overseeing ICC global partnerships with a range of transnational chambers of commerce, the Oslo Business for Peace Foundation and its annual Award programme, as well as the International New York Times.

In addition to leading WCF’s work to support the local trade facilitation and documentation services delivered by chambers, including ATA Carnets and Certificates of Origin – Mr Parkes has also contributed to the creation of a number of chamber operational guidelines, standards and articles. He has also been heavily involved in the evolution of the WCF governing body and statutes.

In August 2012, Mr Parkes was awarded “Certified Chamber Executive” (CCE) status by the American Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives; and has received other significant recognitions during the course of his career. These include Winston Churchill Fellow (1998); and Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation (Japan) Young Leaders programme (1992).
Mr Parkes currently serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, British Chambers of Commerce Global Accreditation Board, Junior Chamber International Global Youth Empowerment Fund Board of Trustees and the World SME Forum.

His background includes a Masters of Business Administration, a Graduate Business Degree and a double major Bachelor of Arts in Politics & Economics and History & Literature.

Bev Moxon

Bev Moxon Employer Education & Skill funding Agency

A career in both the public and private sector covering a number of areas including workforce development and educational reform. For the past 8 years working for the National Apprenticeship Service with both employers and individuals.

The National Apprenticeship Service supports the delivery of apprenticeships in England. It offers free impartial advice and support to employers looking to recruit for the first time or expand their apprenticeship workforce.

Bob Bennett 

Bob Bennett is Emeritus Professor at Cambridge, and Senior Associate at the Judge Business School. He is the leading academic on chambers of commerce. Commissioned to produce the Development Strategy for BCC in 1991, he has subsequently published The History of Chambers of Commerce in Britain, Ireland and Revolutionary America, 1760-2011 (2011, Oxford UP), The Voice of Liverpool Business (2010, a Liverpool chamber publication), and The Documents of the Early Chambers of Commerce in the British Isles (2017, British Academy and Oxford UP).

Charlotte Neal

Head of Consumer & SME Marketing, AXA PPP healthcare

Charlotte has over 12 years’ experience in media and marketing, having worked across a range of industries including automotive, entertainment, charity and health.

At AXA PPP healthcare since 2013, Charlotte leads Marketing Communications for Consumer and SME members, and is passionate about understanding and evolving their experience.

Cheryl Thallon

Cheryl Thallon, is MD and founder of ethical nutritional supplements company Viridian Nutrition, which has 200+ range of award-winning vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, nutritional oils, tinctures and balms produced with integrity, quality and innovation. Cheryl “fell in love” with the natural products movement while working in specialist health food stores.  Co-author of Vegetarian Edinburgh and ex-editor of Natural Food Trader magazine, Cheryl became interested in nutrition and food supplements, launching Viridian Nutrition in 1999.

Dr David J Hardman MBE

Chief Executive Officer – Innovation Birmingham Ltd

David’s career over the last twenty years has been in knowledge transfer and his expertise and interests are directed at creating appropriate partnerships and infrastructures to promote the development and success of cross sectorial knowledge-based businesses.

As CEO of Innovation Birmingham, he leads the Innovation Birmingham Campus creating an urban focal point promoting digital innovation across all sectors that impact the smart city agenda.

Edel Harris

Edel Harris joined Cornerstone as Chief Executive in May 2008 having previously been Deputy Chief Executive of Aberdeen Foyer. Edel’s background is in health promotion, holding a 1st class honours degree in Health and Social Care, she worked for the metropolitan police and NHS Grampian for many years and has significant experience in leading a commercial social enterprise and in developing new social care services. Edel lives in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire with her husband and she has two grown up sons.

Edward Winterton, Chief Executive Officer, UK

Having joined Bibby Financial Services in 1996, Edward has held a variety of senior roles.  For three years he was Executive Director, South of England, where he was responsible for sales and operations. He was appointed as UK Commercial Director in 2012 where he was responsible for the factoring and invoice discounting businesses in the UK and was appointed UK CEO in March 2017 and is now responsible for the strategic direction of BFS UK.

Fiona Lowe

Fiona’s title is Director of HR. I am attaching a photo and a brief biography for her.

Fiona Lowe is Director of HR at Westfield Health, a not-for profit provider of corporate health insurance. Since 1919, we’ve been helping hard working people stay at their fit and health best and now have over 400,000 policyholders.

As a fellow of the CIPD Fiona has worked in the field of HR for nearly 20 years and has a good working knowledge of proactive and successful absence management. Over the last ten years Fiona has worked with Senior Leadership teams to develop and implement the corporate strategy and deliver the people strategy.


Fiona Pawley

Fiona Pawley is an accomplished Business Development Director and High Performance Business Coach, specialising in the Motor Sports and Engineering industries. Passionate about empowering and enabling women in order to develop a diverse, collaborative and enriched industry. Through Engineering in Motion, Fiona has seen first hand the positive impact student engagement with businesses can create. She believes that giving young people opportunities to flex and develop their soft skills, will in turn improve the local business community in the future.


Graeme Fisher

Graeme Fisher leads the British Business Bank’s policy and communications team.  Prior to joining the Bank in early 2016, Graeme headed the Federation of Small Businesses’ efforts to advocate on behalf of small businesses on a range of issues.  He has spent nearly 10 years in a range of government economic policy roles mainly in HM Treasury, and also has first-hand experience of small business through setting up and growing his own enterprise.


Helen Emberton

Corporate Engagement Consultant

Middlesex University

With over 20 years’ experience working in the public, private and third sectors. Helen brings her academic and professional background into her position as corporate engagement Consultant at Middlesex University, leveraging her experiences in enterprise and entrepreneurship along with operational management to supporting corporates and start-ups across the UK. Helen is an experienced senior education manager with a proven track record in educational design and development.

James Gardiner, Head of SME External Affairs, RBS

James is Head of SME External Affairs for RBS- he interacts externally with HMT, BEIS, Bank of England, BCC, FSB and ICAEW on SME banking issues and acts as a conduit for these organisations in their interaction with RBS. He also sits on the Board of a charity- Social Enterprise Academy and runs 2 micro businesses in his spare time.

James Varah

James is Commercial Director of The Brewery, one of London’s leading corporate event venues. Having graduated from Exeter University, he began his career with Initial Style Conferences, before taking on a sales role with Whitbread, working at The Brewery in 2004. During the last ten years, he has risen through the ranks at the City venue, with the business changing hands twice in this period, first forming part of the Earls Court & Olympia venue group, before coming under private ownership in 2012. The venue now hosts over 500 events per year, with attendance ranging from 18 to 1,800 people. His role sees him oversee all sales, marketing, revenue management, supplier relationships and event delivery. James won an Acorn Award from The Caterer in 2009, recognising him as one of the Top 30 under 30 in the hospitality industry.


Julia Doherty

Company: Green Umbrella Marketing Ltd

After successfully selling my independent Recruitment Agency to an International Agency in 2011, I now teach companies how to maximise their online marketing activities to enhance their business (Social Media certainly got me through a very bad recession!).  A published author “Online Marketing for Small Businesses In Easy Steps”.  Having also acquired a print business in 2014, Green Umbrella now supports small businesses with both online and offline marketing strategies.


Katrina Starkie

Katrina Starkie is Marketing Services Director at Purpose Media, a full-service marketing agency which specialises in ecommerce and website design, branding, video production, digital marketing, social media and PR. She works with a range of clients on a monthly basis, developing creative marketing campaigns that meet their strategic objectives and advising on the best ways to use social media to achieve results. Katrina started her own video production company after leaving university, which merged with Purpose Media in 2016.

Linda Cavender

Linda has spent over twenty-five years working with trade associations.  Her first role within the British Constructional Steelwork Association also included working for an industry third party certification body where she qualified as a Lead Assessor.  After gaining a good base knowledge of trade associations and their activities, she then moved to the Glass and Glazing Federation as the Director of Membership where she spent the next 10 years focussing heavily on member services and representing employers for industry wage negotiations.  In her current role as Chief Executive of the Trade Association Forum which she has held for almost 10 years, Linda uses her extensive experience to actively support its members and helps and encourages them to share best practice and increase their professionalism by learning from the experiences of others on all issues which affect the day to day running of their organisation.

Lynda Mills

Lynda has worked within the Direct Selling industry for the majority of her career.  With over 20 years at Avon Cosmetics working across a number of disciplines including, HR, Sales Support (UK and Europe)  and  PR, after which she provided consultancy support to a number of other direct selling companies.

Lynda joined the UK Direct Selling Association (UK DSA) in 2010 and is now holds the position of Director General. The DSA is the recognised Trade Association for Direct Selling companies and is the voice of direct selling and our 60+ members enjoy the protection and extensive benefits of being a member.

Matt Stirland – Head of Customer Services

I’ve worked for Aviva for 17 years in a range of business units and functions. Starting in Finance, qualifying as an accountant in 2005. I moved to Distribution Strategy in 2006 then on to be a Head of Sales in our Pensions & Investments business in 2010.

In July 2015 I became Head of Customer Services in our Corporate Pensions business with responsibility for the end to end service for all of our Designer Pension customers. My role is to lead our customer teams to deliver excellent service to employers, pension scheme members and distribution partners. My focus is on empowerment and ensuring my customer facing teams are striving to improve service for customers and doing the right thing.

Nathan DeGaris

Nathan continues to teach Economics and Business Studies with fifteen years in the classroom and in various management roles within inner London.  In the past eight years he has diversified to focus upon the business links and careers field, now operating at the forefront of this fast-developing aspect of education in secondary schools.   He is a passionate advocate for social mobility being enabled by employability skills and employer engagement.”


Nick Platts

Nick is Head of Cargo for Heathrow and has been at the airport since 2012.  In 2015, Nick moved from his leadership role in the Airside team to develop Heathrow’s cargo strategy. He’s now accountable for making Heathrow one of the best airports in Europe for cargo.  Prior to joining Heathrow, Nick worked at FedEx where he gained great insight in to the air-cargo industry. Nick’s married with 2 children and migrated from Australia in 2004.

Nora Senior

Vice President, British Chambers of Commerce

Executive Chair, UK Regions & Ireland

Weber Shandwick

Nora Senior is Executive Chair UK Regions and Ireland of global public relations and public affairs consultancy, Weber Shandwick. She has over 24 years’ experience of agency, specialising in corporate, public sector and government communications and crisis management, advising both FTSE 100 organisations as well as start-up companies.

Her remit covers the strategic development and profitability of Weber Shandwick’s offices in UK regions and Europe as part of the company’s network of 350 offices worldwide. Weber Shandwick is headquartered in London and New York.

She manages day-to-day coordination of a number of international accounts, building brands and market share via UK, North America, Middle East and Pan-Asia. She has worked with brands such as Coca Cola; Microsoft; Oracle; RBS; Lloyds; Siemens; Glenmorangie; Whyte and Mackay; Invitrogen; Bausch + Lomb; Deutsche Bahn; Shell; Viking Energy; Land Securities and Grosvenor.

Previous positions include Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi (North) and Managing Director of PR Centre, a company she founded as a start up and merged into Weber Shandwick in 1998.

She is part of the Regional Advisory Group to the London Stock Exchange and has held several non-executive positions with organisations such as the Scottish Council Development and Industry, the National Trust, Limelight and other charities.

A former Scottish Businesswoman of the Year, she has been recognised with a number of achievement awards including: Outstanding Personal Achievement at the UK Best Business Awards; International Stevie Award for Best Communications Executive ; IOD Best Female Director and Global Stevie Award for ‘Women in Business’ EMEA.  She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Paul Grainger

Paul is Co-Director of the Centre for Post-14 Education and Work at UCL, and Enterprise Lead for the Department of Education, Practice and Society. Paul’s research centres on formally assessed and post-compulsory education. He teaches at postgraduate level and on continuing professional development. He has studied effective teaching strategies, curriculum delivery and models of assessment. He has a wide knowledge of the responses of institutions and professionals to policy change, and leads on strategic planning, leadership and governance development, principally in the Further Education sector. Recently he has been working on leadership within regional skills systems. Previously Paul spent thirty years in further education, undertaking a variety of roles including inspection. In the 90’s he introduced HE provision into FE and later, as the Principal of a college in Liverpool, he created a new FE campus in Runcorn. He was a core member of the Nuffield Review of 14-19 Education and Training, and has continued his interest in transitions in to work during his time at UCL.


Paul Noon

Paul brings to Coventry University a wealth of experience in the area of enterprise and innovation. With a successful career spanning over a quarter of a century with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), representing and promoting the best of British industry and technology across the globe, Paul knows what graduates need and what industry needs from graduates.

His aim in his role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Innovation is to push forward the University’s ambitious strategy for world-wide growth by building on current success and extending the reach of Coventry’s business-focused research and commercial activities.

Paul’s experience, honed far and wide, from New Zealand to Damascus and Kinshasha to Bonn, has covered a vast range of social and economic policy areas, from agriculture to education.

His diplomatic service career largely focused on developing the economic prosperity of the UK and working closely with a range of businesses of all sizes.

Before joining the University, Paul was regional director of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) West Midlands, where his main role was to support local businesses to grow and develop their export markets, as well as attracting inward investment to the region. Managing a number of key business and political relationships has equipped Paul to successfully tackle the challenges of his University role.


Richard Pharro


Richard is a Chartered Director, Civil Engineer, founder and CEO of APMG an international accreditation and certification body. APMG manages a portfolio of 54 products across the management spectrum on behalf of many National and International organisations and has offices in 14 countries. APMG gained Investors in People Gold in 2010 and has retained it ever since. In 2012 APMG won a Queens Award for Enterprise in the International trade category.

Sally Evans

Sally Evans is a director at Millichamp, a strategic marketing & communications consultancy, advising organisations on change management, communications and brand strategy.  She works with start-ups and established brands/companies, developing international, national and regional programmes. She spent almost ten years at learndirect, the skills provider, most recently as Director of Marketing & Communications.  During her tenure, the organisation was recognised as a Business Superbrand.  Previously, Sally was a director at Weber Shandwick.   Email:

Sally Pritchett

Brand communications expert

Co founder of creative communications agency, Something Big, Sally has been helping businesses solve their problems by improving their communications for over two decades. Having spent her early career client side, getting thoroughly cheesed off with agencies not understanding her briefs, she teamed up with business partner Nick, who quickly learnt to read her mind. Together they created an agency that brings that extra commercial acumen to their client’s communication strategies.



Sarah McPake

Sarah leads the engagement of TSB’s Partners with the clear purpose to serve local customers and local businesses in order to fuel local economies, helping to create thriving local communities all across Britain. Over the past 7 years her curiosity into what it means to be employed has led Sarah to develop expertise in the relationship between employers and employees and how this can leveraged to have a positive impact on both the economy and society.

Sean Ramsden

Sean Ramsden is the founder and Chief Executive of wholesale food exporter Ramsden International distributing over 23,000 British branded-food and drink products to 133+ countries across five continents. In addition to overseeing the business activities of Ramsden International Sean also holds a number of advisory and non-executive positions within the food industry, including membership of the DEFRA Agri-Food and Drink Export Forum, Non-Executive Director of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), and a Trustee of Borough Market.

Siân Marshall

Scottish Widows

Siân joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2011 and manages Pensions Policy and Positioning. She is responsible for influencing the direction of policy, regulation and legislation to achieve good outcomes for people saving for retirement, and for the positioning of the Scottish Widows retirement proposition.

Siân began working in Financial Services as a graduate with Standard Life and then Prudential. During her career she has also worked for two international advertising and communications agencies – DDB and SapientNitro.

Simon Devonshire OBE

Entrepreneur. Investor. Non-Executive Director.

Simon has an extensive corporate career and is also a serial entrepreneur. He previously ran the business division of O2 UK and co-founded Wayra Europe, the business accelerator belonging to Telefonica.

Simon is highly active in the digital innovation eco-system. His current portfolio includes:

  • Entrepreneur in Residence for the UK Government, reporting to the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He is also EiR for the National Physical Laboratory.
  • Simon is a Non-Executive Director for InnovateUK, the Student Loans Company, and a VCT.
  • He is also an active investor in and all of which are pioneering innovative new digital technologies.

Tim Clay

Tim joined the financial services industry in 1983. His first major move in 1985 was to establish the financial services subsidiary of a general insurance brokerage, providing group pension scheme advice and practical wealth management solutions to owner managers and their businesses.

His latter business, Clay Rogers and Partners Ltd, became one of the most respected financial planning practices in the Midlands, before its acquisition by Succession Group in September 2016.


Uday Thakkar

Red Ochre

Uday is a serial entrepreneur having launched 4 businesses and a charity. Currently he heads up Red Ochre a business consultancy. Uday specialises in strategy, leadership and management development and finance. An experienced trainer and facilitator his workshops attract over 1,000 people annually. He has trained and supported entrepreneurs and businesses in twelve countries. He is the recipient of a national award for his mentoring skills, writes regularly on business issues and speaks at conferences around the world.


Warren Knight

Top 100 Global Influencer in 2017 and award winning blogger, author and digital entrepreneur with 10 years online experience. Warren started his career as a professional hip-hop dancer, and is now an international Digital Transformation keynote speaker, author and coach who built a £1m technology company in less than 2 years.

Warren’s vision is to help 100,000 entrepreneurs and business owners successfully sell more products and services online through the strategic use of social media, digital marketing and ecommerce by 2020. To reach this goal, Think Digital First is an online education company offering video courses in social media, digital marketing, and business skills. Founded in 2015