We would like to thank all of our judges for being involved in the UK Public Sector Communications Awards. To see more details about each judge, view their profile below.
Bridget Aherne MCIPR
Bridget began her career as a journalist in the 90s, working in radio and print, before making considered move to Greater Manchester Police’s press office. There she led communications plans for murders, international manhunts and for operations to disrupt organised crime gangs.
Bridget then joined Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and helped the service transform the way in which the service engages with staff and its communities.
Taking up post as Head of Communications and Administration at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2013, Bridget quickly delivered a number of essential changes to move communications from a tactical footing to a more strategic function. She was awarded the title of CIPR & IoD PR Director of the Year for this work in 2015.
During 2016, Bridget headed up communications for Greater Manchester Combined Authority and helped establish the function as the authority’s first dedicated communications lead, following the Authority’s ground-breaking devolution deal with central government.
Bridget made a return to the fire and rescue service in 2017, joining Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service to lead its newly restructured communications and engagement team.
Neil leads the corporate & B2B team at Good Relations. He has over 20 years of experience helping to develop effective communications campaigns and tackle reputation challenges for clients such as Airbus, BT, BSI, Bosch, GE, HP, Samsung, Telegraph Media Group, Nationwide and Weetabix. His expertise spans communications planning, campaign development, strategic media relations, thought leadership, public affairs, crisis management, employee engagement and corporate social responsibility.
Neil is also an experienced leadership communications coach, helping senior executives shape agendas and deliver key messages effectively in situations such as financial results announcements, product launches, industry events, acquisitions and profiling interviews. Over a four year period, he developed a partnership with the Media Trust to create and deliver a programme of communications training for over 200 charity CEOs and spokespeople.
His 20-year career in communications, marketing and PR spans 10 years as Head of Communications within local government, a director level role in the NHS and five years in private sector marketing.
A graduate in PR, and a multiple award-winner, Darren was named in the prestigious 'Digital Leaders 100' in both 2014 and 2016.
He has hosted and spoken at more than 100 events across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, on integrating social media for business, building communications and engagement strategies, and communicating in a digital world.
Darren created the communications strategy for the multi award-winning Come Back to Nursing campaign, which attracted over 1,500 nurses back to the profession and saving the NHS £90million in the process. The campaign pulled off ‘Best Social Media Campaign’ at the UK Public Sector Communications Awards 2015 amongst others.
Darren provides communications consultancy and support to organisations, team and individuals across the UK, organises and delivers tailored in-house training and development, skills workshops, themed masterclasses and the unique annual UnAwards, now in their fourth year
A mentor to several communications managers in the UK he is passionate about sharing knowledge and learning as well as supporting communications colleagues across the industry. He is an associate member of LGcommunications.
Amanda has more than 20 years’ experience both as a journalist and in communication roles. For the past 16 years she has worked in senior communication roles within the police service and is currently responsible for Corporate Communications at Greater Manchester Police.
Initially, Amanda worked on local newspapers throughout the North West of England before moving into public relations working for a number of public sector organisations.
She has led the communication team at Greater Manchester Police during some challenging times including the murder of two police officers, August 2011 riots, death of the former Chief Constable and numerous counter terrorism investigations.
Amanda has been chair of the national Association of Police Communicators (APComm) since January 2013.
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
Dee Cotgrove is Director of Communications at the Met Office, leading digtial 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 and for use of digital and social media.
Dee is a lead auditor for the Government Communications Service capabilty audits, and sits on the Cabinet Office Digital Futures Council. Dee chairs, judges, and speaks at PR and Marketing events in the UK, and at international meteorological 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 qualification in Marketing, Dee is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Mike joined the University in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University where he was the Internet manager, responsible for all digital activity. Prior to joining MMU, Mike spent a number of years at two national charities working on award winning fundraising and media relation campaigns.
Samantha L Fay
Sam is responsible for Guinness World Records’ global brand strategy, new product development, strategic partnerships and also heads up the innovation division, The Records Lab. She develops creative campaigns with top agencies and brands all over the world to take the world’s best known brands to new, record-breaking heights!
Her favourite moments over the years have included presenting Michael Jackson with his certificates, meeting the Queen and sharing the lawn at the White House with Michelle Obama.
Sam is an experienced keynote speaker and in the last 12 months has delivered sessions at various prestigious industry events including Cannes Lions, Spikes Asia, Festival of Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer Europe Summit, Chief Strategy Officer Summit New York, and the China International Advertising Festival.
She is also a regular on judging panels and sits on the jury for the European Sponsorship Awards, UK Public Service Sector Awards, PR Moment Awards, Creativepool Awards and the Brand Film Festival.
Celia Glynn-Williams is Head of Marketing and Communications at Medway Council and has extensive experience in senior roles both in the public and private sector. Prior to joining Medway Council led the Communications Team at Canterbury City Council. Before moving to Kent in 2004, Celia 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 with a number of charities and is a non- executive director of g Porchlight, Kent’s leading charity working with vulnerable and homeless people, the Canterbury Festival, and Northbourne Park School and she has also worked with the Canterbury Cathedral Appeal and Trident Trust (now part of the Pearson Group).
Andy Green helps people and organisations fulfil their potential and make the most of their situations by making creativity, innovation and brand story-telling easy and fun to use. He is an author, international conference speaker, trainer, facilitator, university lecturer and Brand PR consultant.
Andy’s books on brand communications and creativity include ‘Creativity in Public Relations’, and ‘Effective Personal Communications Skills for Public Relations’ and have been translated into eight languages. His latest book, due out next year is ‘Tubespiration! – how to get your next brilliant ideas on the London Underground’. He works with major blue chip brands around the globe. He is the inspiration and author behind the new CIPR Innovation & Creativity Toolkit - a free downloadable resource offering the equivalent of a virtual creativity director to your team.
Philip J. Kitchen, PhD
Previously served as Dean of the Faculty of Business and Professor of Marketing at Brock University, Canada; Founding Chair of Strategic Marketing at Hull University, UK; and Professor of Marketing at Queens School of Management, UK. Editor - Journal of Marketing Communications (Routledge). Has published 20 books and over 150 papers in academic journals in marketing and communications journals around the world. He is currently Fellow of CIM, RSA, HEA, Institute of Directors UK and the Institute of Marketing Science, USA. He is a Member of the ALCS and the American Association of Advertising (USA).
Wendy Moran is a Senior Lecturer in Public Relations and Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, specialising in communication across the public services. In 2009, Wendy launched 'Second Steps', the first accredited post grad programme for local government PR practitioners in the UK, in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Local Public Services Group and MMU. In 2013, she co-authored ‘PR and Communication in Local Government and Public Services’ as part of the CIPR PR in practice series. As Chair of the CIPR Local Public Services Group in 2015, Wendy led a national research project examining the challenges for public service communicators in the age of austerity. The report 'Influence for Impact' was launched at CIPR HQ in October 2015. Wendy is currently undertaking doctoral studies examining the role of the PR practitioner in public services with Professor Danny Moss.
Erin has worked in the PR and communications industry for more than twelve years, formerly in consultancy working on a range of consumer, B2B and community clients, but for the past six years in the NHS.
She is currently Head of Communications and Engagement for two NHS clinical commissioning groups in Lancashire, where she also has portfolio responsibility customer care, patient experience, organisational development and equality and diversity.
An award-winning and CIPR Chartered Practitioner, she has served on the CIPR North West Group Committee for ten years, holding all posts including a three year term as Chair.
Ian Ratcliffe has 25 years’ experience in advising on and delivering communications and engagement strategies. He has led the Communications and Engagement function on a number of multi-million pound strategic projects to ensure successful project delivery, and heads Ratcliffe Knight Limited, the strategic communications consultancy.
Ian has led public sector teams winning over 50 national, regional and industry awards for effective communications, and has previously received the award of National Public Sector Communicator of the Year. He is currently the National Chair of the Public Relations and Communications’ (PRCA) Business Transformation Group.
Kara Rose has worked in the PR industry for over 17 years. Having worked in-house with Airtours Holidays at the start of her career followed by a spell as a Director of a leading Manchester agency, Kara is now the owner and MD of an award-winning, full service public relations agency based in Lancashire, KRPR.
Having launched in 2007, Kara heads up the firmly established business within the North West consultancy scene, working with clients in both the B2B and B2C sectors from across the UK. Well-versed in working with the Public Sector, KRPR has in recent years scooped both Golden Hedgehog and CIPR PRide awards for its on-going work with Lancashire County Council and its many district councils.
Dr Martina Topić
Martina Topić holds a PhD in Sociology (University of Zagreb, 2013), Postgraduate diploma in Media and Globalization (City University London, 2007), Master’s degree in Journalism (University of Zagreb, 2003) and Master’s degree in Political science (University of Zagreb, 2003). She has worked as a journalist for print media in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy (2003-2009), research fellow at the University of Zagreb (2007-2013), and as a researcher on two large international projects ‘UNESCO Media development Indicators’ (2007-2008) and ‘FP7 Identities and Modernities in Europe’ (2009-2012). Currently, she works as a Lecturer in Public Relations at the Leeds Beckett University where she is teaching Research Methods; Integrated Marketing Communications; Communication, Ethics and Regulation; Reporting 2 (Features), PR Skills, Writing for Communications, Public Relations, and Business Journalism.
Cat Turner currently heads up the PR teams at the Co-op across the insurance, funeral and legal services businesses. She has worked at the Co-op in PR and communications for over 10 years, across a range of sectors. Prior to the Co-op, Cat worked in PR roles at RBS Insurance, and Fido PR.
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.
In 2015 QE Gateshead won Best Small Communications team at the Comms2point0 awards in Birmingham and was highly commended by the Association for Healthcare Communications and Marketing (AHCM) at their national awards ceremony.
A former journalist, Shelley is recognised as one of the leading strategic communicators in the public sector in the UK. Her previous roles of note including leading comms, marketing and tourism at Lancashire’s flagship local authority Chorley Council before a board level position at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in comms and engagement.
Following the ground-breaking Devolution deal, Shelley retained her role at the fire and rescue service whilst picking up the role of Assistant Director at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - led by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and representing a truly integrated, place-based communications and engagement teams across fire, health, the combined authority, metro mayor and police and crime commissioner's remit.
Shelley’s expertise includes the full range of marcomms functions including crisis, media and reputation management, marketing, branding, digital/social, events, internal communications and consultation/engagement.
An experienced and proven leader operating successfully within challenging and complex organisations – Shelley was nominated as a ‘Northern Power Woman’ in 2016 for her influence in this field.