We would like to thank all of our 2018 judges for being involved in the UK Public Sector Communications Awards.

Kathryn Ager

Head of Public & Third Sector Health & Skills, Grayling Communications |

Kathryn leads the Grayling public sector team and has more than 20 years’ experience delivering communications ranging from consumer behaviour change campaigns to large scale stakeholder engagement and reputation management programmes. This includes running Health Education England’s There's Nothing General About General Practice campaign and the Know Before You Go travel safety campaign for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Other public sector clients include NHS England, National Trading Standards, The Department for Health, Transport for London and University Hospitals Bristol. She has extensive experience developing communications strategies and running workshops for senior management teams. Kathryn is also a member of the PRCA’s PR and Communications Council.

Ross Wigham

Head of Communications & Marketing, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust |

Ross currently runs communications for NHS Hospitals in Gateshead and before this he was head of comms at Northumberland County Council, one of the largest local authorities in England.

In 2012 he was named ‘Public sector communicator of the year’ at the UK Public Sector Communications Awards and ‘Professional Communicator of the year’ at the Golden Hedgehogs.

Ross is also a multiple CIPR PRide award winner and judge, who won many plaudits for using social media to communicate with residents during his time at Northumberland. He has worked on some of the biggest public sector campaigns in the North East and spoken extensively about how local public services can use social media and PR to engage more effectively with local people.

He is also an experienced journalist and blogger, having spent a decade in London working for top trade publications as well as producing content for firms such as Sony, HSBC and Business Link.

Dee Cotgrove

Director of Communications, Met Office |

Dee Cotgrove is Director of Communications at the Met Office, leading digital reach and high profile public communications ranging from heatwaves and winter storms to climate science and pollution.  Dee is passionate about building trust through engagement and her teams have won multiple awards for public communications across digital and social media.

Dee is a lead auditor for the Government Communications Service capability audits and sits on the GCS Improvement Board and Digital Futures Council.  Dee chairs, judges and speaks at PR and marketing events in the UK and shares best practice at international events across Europe and USA.  Dee is also a Trustee Director on the board of Relate whose mission is to help and support relationships, primarily through counselling.

With a first degree in Politics from the University of York, and a professional post-graduate diploma in Marketing, Dee is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Philip Kitchen

Professor of Marketing, Salford University |

Philip J. Kitchen, (PhD) is Professor of Marketing at Salford University Business School. He was previously Research Professor at ESC Rennes School of Business, France. He has held a Full Professorship since 2001. He is Editor - Journal of Marketing Communications now in Volume 23 and Founder of the International Conference on Corporate and Marketing Communications (inaugurated 1996).  He has published 20 books and over 150 papers in leading journals around the world.  Listed as one of the 'The Top 50 Gurus who have influenced the Future of Marketing', Marketing Business, December 2003, pp. 12-16.    Fellow of CIM, RSA, HEA; and Member of the ALCS, Institute of Directors and Institute of Marketing Science (USA). He has served as Visiting Professor of Marketing and/or Communications in many universities/business schools around the world. His areas of research include: marketing communication, corporate communications, brands and branding, and marketing theory.


Paul Owen

Account Director, KRPR |

Paul is an Account Director at award winning PR agency KRPR, working on some of the client’s biggest accounts including national consumer brands and hotel chains.

With more than 18 years’ experience he is a specialist in B2B and B2C communications, implementing campaigns for major consumer brands including The Open Championship, Southport Flower Show, Aintree Racecourse, Wall’s Pastry and Pork Farms.

He has also worked closely with public sector organisations on successful stakeholder engagement projects including work with Liverpool Vision, the NHS and Transport for the North.

Paul has played a pivotal role in some of KRPR’s award winning campaigns, including the Pork Farms Board Games Championship project, which recently won Best Community Engagement Campaign of the Year at the PR Moment Awards.

Celia Glynn-Williams

Head of Communications & Marketing, Medway Council |

Celia joined Medway Council in January 2017 as the Head of Marketing and Communication, managing a team that provides integrated marketing and PR services to the council.

She joined Medway from her previous role as Head of Communication at Canterbury City Council where she was responsible for the communications roll out of a number of successful projects including the new Marlowe Theatre, the redevelopment of the Beaney city museum, a new major waste collection scheme, internal transformation, digital transformation, the  local plan and a new district transport strategy.

Before moving to Kent in 2004, she spent nearly 20 years working in senior marketing and business development roles in the city where she was involved in setting up the successful growth market AIM (Alternative Investment Market )and managing the London Stock Exchange’s relationship management with stock brokers and listed companies. Celia has also worked in marketing roles for the Canterbury Cathedral Appeal and the educational charity, the Trident Trust (now part of Pearson Group).  

She is a trustee of Kent’s leading homelessness charity Porchlight and of the Canterbury Festival, one of Kent’s top arts festivals and has served as a school governor.


Catherine Turner

Head of PR, Co-Operative Group |

Cat currently heads up the team at the Co-op, responsible for PR across the insurance,  funerals, and legal services businesses. She has worked at the Co-op for over 10 years, in both consumer and corporate PR roles.   Prior to the Co-op, she worked for a number of businesses including Unilever and Churchill Insurance.

Alicia Custis

Head of Communications & Marketing, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust |

Alicia Custis is a multi-award winning communications specialist, with extensive experience working in the NHS. 

She is head of communications at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stepping Hill Hospital and community health services in Stockport.  Alicia was asked to work at the Trust immediately following the saline poisoning murders at Stepping Hill Hospital in 2011. This was in order to lead on communications around the incident and develop and implement an overall communications strategy for the organisation. The communications team subsequently won three national awards for its reputation handling approach.

Alicia was previously head of communications at The Christie cancer centre for 10 years. She has 20 years’ experience in communications, which includes six years working at PR agencies on a wide range of accounts. 


Dr. Joyce Costello

BA Public Relations Programme Leader, Senior Lecture Digital Marketing, Bournemouth University |

Prior to entering academia, Joyce spent 19 years as a broadcast journalist and public affairs specialist for the US Army. She has dealt with a wide variety of international events around the world ranging from the first free elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to UN inspectors being kicked out of Iraq, humanitarian aid missions in Central America, Asia and Africa, civil affairs in Afghanistan and the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics to name a few. Additionally, she has taught foreign officials, NATO allies and non-profit groups’ leaders in communicating to a variety of stakeholders, dealing with the media and reputation management while in the Middle East and Europe. She has been teaching Public Relations and Leadership at Bournemouth University since September 2014. Her research focus is on public service motivation and corporate social responsibility. She enjoys mentoring fellow veterans and volunteering with non-profit organizations that help wounded warriors/disabled soldiers.

Bridget Aherne

Bridget Aherne Communications / Interim Head of Communications, KeolisAmey Metrolink |

Bridget Aherne began her career as a journalist, working in radio before gaining her NCTJ qualifications and moving into print. She followed that with a move to Greater Manchester Police’s press office. There she led communications plans for murders, manhunts and for operations to disrupt and capture organised crime gangs. 

Bridget joined Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2011 and helped the team transform the way in which the service communicates with staff and its communities.

Seizing the opportunity to work as Head of Communications and Administration at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2013, Bridget quickly delivered a number of essential changes. Her work there was recognised at the 2015 CIPR Excellence Awards where she was awarded the title of CIPR & IoD PR Director of the Year.

Bridget returned home in 2016 as Greater Manchester Combined Authority's Head of Communications - supporting the city-region as it prepared to elect its first directly elected mayor following a ground-breaking devolution agreement. 

Since then, Bridget, through her consultancy, has provided advice and support to a number of organisations and helped them improve the way they communicate with their employees, the media and the public. 

Erin Portsmouth

Head of Communications & Engagement, NHS Chorley and South Ribble |

Erin is a Chartered public relations practitioner who has worked in the communications industry for over 15 years.  She started her career in private sector consultancy but for the past nine years she has worked in the National Health Service.  She is Head of Communications and Engagement for two NHS clinical commissioning groups in Lancashire, where she also has portfolio responsibility for customer care, complaints, patient experience, Freedom of Information, legal claims, HR, organisational development, and equality and diversity.  She has a MA in public relations, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and served on the CIPR North West Group Committee as a volunteer for ten years, also holding a three year term as Chair.  She is currently a Trustee and board member for the homelessness charity Emmaus Salford.


Holly Sutton

Founder & Strategy Director, Journalista |

CEO and founder of Journalista, a PR consultancy on a mission to make complex issues clearer to improve people’s lives. 

For almost a decade, Holly has led a multi-disciplinary team of strategists, creatives and journalists to work with clients across the academic, health and technology sectors. Together, the Journalista team develops engaging stories that communicate complex issues clearly.

Winner of several ‘Young PR Person of the Year’ awards, including PR Week and PR Moment. Journalista has also been awarded by PR Week in Media Relations, Evaluation and Insight categories.

Before founding Journalista in 2009, Holly wrote for specialist magazines including HSJ, Local Government Chronicle and Regeneration and Renewal, then worked in several senior public sector communications roles including the RCN, NHS and European Parliament.

Holly is a graduate of Lancaster University, Press Association’s post-graduate diploma in periodical journalism and most recently Goldman Sach’s funded UCL’s 10,000 Small Businesses Programme.


Mike Deyes

External Relations, Marketing & Communications, University of Liverpool |

Andy Green

Founder, Andy Green Creativity |

Ian Ratcliffe

National Chair, (PRCA) Business Transformation Group |

Dr. Martina Topic

Senior Lecturer in Public Relations, Leeds Beckett University |

Will Spiers

Chief Communications Officer, GE Healthcare |

Will is responsible for driving and executing the company’s external affairs, employee engagement and corporate communications strategy.

Will has more than 20 years’ experience in the communications industry with senior in-house and agency positions. Prior to his current role, he led GE Healthcare’s global external affairs team with responsibility for the company’s media relations, public relations, influencer outreach, social media and issues management activities.

Between 2005 and 2012, Will served as Head of Communications for GE Capital in Europe and the Middle East, overseeing the execution of a brand repositioning campaign and building GE Capital’s reputation as a leading asset-based lender.

Before joining GE, he was the Head of European Financial Services at MSL Group, a major international PR agency, managing the corporate reputation for a wide variety of multi-national corporate and financial services clients.

Will started his career in 1994 with a boutique advertising and PR agency, following graduation from Aberdeen University.

Jennifer Green

Director of Strategic Communications, Manchester City Council |

Jen is an experienced communications professional who has built and led the strategic communications and marketing functions, moving Manchester from a traditional marketing approach to an engagement and campaign model. 

She has held a variety of roles at Manchester City Council, including Head of Digital City Strategy and Head of Customer and Community Engagement, previously supporting the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), now the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, with their communications activities.  

Now responsible for Manchester's strategic communications, stakeholder relationship management and digital engagement, Jen heads a full in-house communications service with creative design, marketing, media, news, digital production and content creation, print, mail, AV and event management, with translations and interpretation including a commercial arm servicing a number of public sector organisations. 

Jen has been on the top in-house communicators list at Prolific North for the last two years and is the chair of the communications recovery group following the Manchester arena attack in May 2017. 


Geraldine Vesey

Director, SKV Communications |

Geraldine leads the team at multi-award winning creative communications agency, SKV Communications, across a number of Government campaigns.  She has extensive behaviour change experience with specialisation in regional implementation and has most undertaken activity for Department for Education, Department for International Trade, Food Standards Agency and Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

She has undertaken impactful marketing and PR activities for charities and public sector clients including WRAP and Transport for Greater Manchester. Her skills span creation, direction and evaluation of creative integrated campaigns including  stakeholder engagement, crisis communications and digital media management.