Judging Round-Up - Week Two

It’s been an incredibly busy time at the Midlands Family Business Awards with four of our categories being judged this week – CSR, Best Small Family Business, Employer of the Year and Innovation. 

A big thank you to our finalists in all four categories for joining us, as well as to category sponsors, The Wilson Organisation, Buckles Solicitors and Shakespeare Martineau for hosting the judging days. You can check out our finalists line-up here.

Learn more about this week’s fantastic judges here:

Monday 24th September – Corporate Social Responsibility judging panel

Our lead family business judge, Phillip Kalli of Ideal Manufacturing, got in touch on Sunday to let us know that he had unfortunately succumbed to the ‘lurgy’ and was not well enough to make the journey to Nottingham to join the judging panel. We were as disappointed as Phillip, as it was his first time on the judging side of the table after being involved in the Awards for many years – but grateful that he chose not to share as we had a very tough week of judging to get through! We hope he’s well on the road to recovery and hope to see him fit and well again soon.

Our industry expert on the panel Rob Fitzsimons, CEO of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, is thankfully no stranger to family businesses. We are fortunate that he could call on his experience of working in his family’s management consultancy and training business working his way up from junior consultant to Director and working for many years alongside his parents, and also having many family businesses as clients throughout his consultancy career. Lauren Mills, representing sponsor V Formation, also has a wide knowledge of family business issues having researched and written many articles during her time as enterprise editor at the Sunday Express. We are extremely grateful for our dynamic duo!

Rob Fitzsimons, CEO of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Rob is Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust - the leading conservation charity in the county with nearly 11,000 members, 67 nature reserves, two visitor and education centres and over 1 million visitors per year. The Trust has a high number of corporate members and ‘Green Guardians’, helping businesses fulfil the demands of their corporate social responsibility policy, engage staff and reach new audiences. Their network of local companies support the Trust in protecting wildlife for the future, whilst making a tangible difference to their business and the environment where their customers and employees live.  

Lauren Mills, V Formation

Lauren is V Formation’s Senior PR Consultant, providing top-level advice to clients on multi-media PR strategies. Lauren previously worked as a business journalist on national and regional newspapers including The Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and Wall Street Journal. As enterprise editor at the Sunday Express for a year, she wrote about family businesses, as well as small and growing firms – a role she especially enjoyed. In January 2018 she was appointed to the Board of Trustees for Big Difference Company, the charity behind Leicester Comedy Festival.

Tuesday 25th September - Best Small Family Business judging panel

It was thankfully a full panel of judges for what is always our hardest fought category of the Awards. Liz and David have both judged different categories in the past, and it was great to welcome Ruth to the judging panel for the first time. Mark has judged Best Small Family Business before, so was well aware of how challenging a day it can be looking at a wide range of measures across such a diverse range of businesses – who are all at the top of their game to make it to our list of finalists. It’s a tough job, but thankfully our judging panel were up to it and had a great day!

Liz Slocombe, DGS

Liz is a Director at DGS Group, based at their head office in Castle Donington. Since 1977, the name DGS has become synonymous with service and value. Formed in the very early days of double glazing technology, their focus on technical expertise and customer satisfaction has led to the development of today's highly successful multi-million pound family business. DGS has eleven strategically placed branches throughout the UK and Ireland with their own ISO9001 Accredited UK manufacturing plant in Melbourne Derbyshire producing window friction stays and accessories. With full BBA, BSI and SBD accreditation their British quality and reliability are renowned throughout the industry. 

David Williams, Butt Foods & 3W Growth

David has over 25 years experience as MD of Butt Foods, a high growth bakery business in Nottingham which employs 70 people. Over the last 4 years, the business has doubled in size and is now one of the strongest performing companies in its sector. Since 2000, David has been helping to advise companies in a variety of roles as a D2N2 LEP Board member, Chair the D2N2 Growth Hub, Chair of the Food & Drink Forum and Non Executive Director of growing businesses.

Ruth Chapman, PwC

Ruth leads My Financepartner in the Midlands region. She is qualified as both an accountant and a chartered tax advisor. Ruth has over 20 years of experience in supporting SME businesses, providing financial, commercial and taxation advice to a diversified portfolio of clients.

Mark Minton, The Wilson Organisation

Mark is Director of the General Insurance division at Wilsons. He has over thirty years of insurance and financial services senior and Board level experience, including 25 years with a market-leading insurance broker and financial adviser firm; as Group Managing Director he not only influenced a significant increase in turnover but also managed a number of mergers and acquisitions. An avid Rugby League supporter, in his spare time Mark has also been a main Board Director of Bradford Bulls Rugby League team. The Bulls were World Club Champions three times during his time on the Board.

Wednesday 26th September - Employer of the Year judging panel

The life of an Awards organiser is never an easy one. When you learn that your lead family business judge had to be on a flight to India and can no longer make it to the judging day, you know it’s not going to be an easy seat to fill - successful family business leaders rarely have a clear day in their diary that they can devote to you at a moment’s notice.

Thankfully, Matthew Ballard of Ballards Removals happened to call Awards HQ with a query when we were in the middle of our crisis and within an hour had cleared his diary so he could step in to the breach. Not only is he the saviour of our judging day, but as Ballards are the current title holder of Employer of the Year, it couldn’t be a more perfect fit. Having already been on the other side of the judging table the week before, it was a very interesting experience for Matt to be on the just a week later! 

We are incredibly grateful to Matt for his support and is a fantastic example of just how amazing the family businesses involved in the Awards really are. 

Matthew Ballard, Ballards Removals

Established in 1979, Ballard’s Removals have constantly strived to provide the very best in service led Removals, Storage and distribution logistics. Initially focusing on specialist domestic and commercial removals, they have evolved into the provision of a comprehensive portfolio of secure storage and logistics solutions, including a fleet of multi-purpose hire vehicles. Matt has performed removals in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and dozens of other high-profile properties – and used his removals experience to work while travelling, mainly in Australia and NZ. 

Nikki Aston, Buckles

Nikki has extensive experience across a wide range of family law issues, from divorce and financial matters, private children law matters, cohabitation disputes and civil partnership dissolution to separation agreements and pre-nuptial agreements. Her expertise also focuses upon involved and challenging financial remedy proceedings, and she brings to the role a genuine motivation to find practical family solutions to all disputes. Nikki is a member of Resolution and a Resolution Accredited specialist in Private Law Children matters and Domestic Violence. She is working towards becoming an Accredited Mediator and is also joint Secretary on the Committee for the Nottingham/East Midlands branch of Resolution.

Rob Wallwork, Buckles

Rob is a commercial property lawyer who also has over 16 years’ experience in the retail industry as director of a number of retail businesses. He has worked with leading brands to develop new retail concepts and property owners to deliver innovative development solutions for challenging sites, leading to extensive knowledge of franchising and concession agreements. Rob’s commercial experience, combined with his unique understanding of the issues and pressures faced by directors and managers means he is a calm and creative negotiator who provides clear and pragmatic advice, allowing clients to focus on their business.

Anita Jackson, Recruit 2 You

Anita is Managing Director of Recruit 2 You, responsible for overseeing the direction and growth, controlling operations and providing strategic guidance to ensure that while achieving objectives, they continue to deliver the best service possible to both candidates and clients. Anita’s recruitment career began in 2012 with a national training provider within the Apprenticeship sector and she quickly progressed to become a National Account Manager for market leaders in the estate Agency sector. 

In 2016 she joined a small recruitment company in Derby and was instrumental in opening a successful sister branch for the organisation. In 2018, she launched her own business, Recruit 2 You. 

Thursday 27th September – Innovation judging panel

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE was urgently called to London late on Wednesday afternoon, so Alex Claydon of Morningside Pharmaceuticals very kindly took the sponsor seat at the judging day. It was the first time Alex had been part of the Awards judging panel and we’re pleased to report he found the day incredibly interesting and rewarding – feedback we always receive from our new judges!

Special thanks to Shakespeare Martineau for hosting the judging day at their fantastic offices in Leicester city centre.

Mark Blinston, BM Catalysts

Mark is Commercial Director at family business BM Catalysts, the largest independent manufacturer of high quality, aftermarket catalytic converters in Europe. New to the BM Catalysts product offering is a range of DPF Pressure Pipes. Its two hi-tech facilities in Nottinghamshire bring innovative new product development and quality UK manufacturing to the aftermarket. Rapidly expanding into Europe, BM Catalysts offers long term partnership solutions to distributors seeking range, reliability and high quality products. 

Alex Claydon, Morningside Pharmaceuticals

Morningside Pharmaceuticals is a family business based in Loughborough that manufactures and supplies Medicines and Healthcare products to UK pharmacy, wholesale, NHS and countries worldwide. They are a specialist for the supply of Emergency and Contract Aid relief to the UN and large NGO's. Alex is a B2B and B2C communications expert with a portfolio covering the full spectrum of marcomms disciplines - including PR, corporate communications, digital content and copywriting. He is experienced at devising and delivering marketing, communications, campaigns and plans that have genuine impact on the organisation’s strategies, goals, profile, reputation and profit margin.

Ed Wright, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau

Ed works with clients from all sectors (including life sciences and technology, media and telecoms) on wide-ranging non-contentious commercial, contractual, IP, ICT, e-commerce, data protection, competition and public procurement law issues. He advises on IP creation, ownership, protection and exploitation, including technology transfers, R&D collaborations and agency, distribution/reselling and franchising arrangements. Ed has a keen interest in drafting/advising on IP licensing arrangements and, whenever possible, presents and writes on topical commercial and/or IP matters. Clients consider Ed to be very approachable, intelligent and commercial.

Our 2023 Winners

The results are in...