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Judges Announced For Family Business Of The Year Awards 2024

The prestigious National Family Business of the Year Awards are now in their twelfth year and have become a highlight of the annual calendar, crowing some incredible family business winners of the year.

Adding to the value of these awards is the contribution of our judging panel who deliberate over the submissions and help us to determine the winners. Each member of the panel is recognised for their work in the family business sector either as a family business leader and winner of a previous award, an academic specialising in the field or an adviser working with family business clients. Collectively they represent hundreds of years of working in the sector and we are truly grateful to all of them for taking the time to judge these awards.

As Paul Andrews, Founder and CEO of Family Business United, organisers of these awards adds: "We are delighted with the depth and diversity of knowledge within our esteemed judges. They all have a great insight and perspective on the family business sector here in the UK and by combining their different skills and knowledge, our panel truly represents a great body of knowledge that helps to determine the winners of these awards."

"We are proud to champion the family business sector and these awards are a great way to shine the spotlight on the great family firms that exist all over the UK. We are truly appreciative of the contribution the judges make to selecting the winners and helping to continue to maintain the integrity of the UK's only national awards programme for the family business sector too."

Further judges will be announced in due course but our panel for 2024 includes:

  • Jane Wylie-Roberts, CEO of Stafffinders

  • Nicola Stamford - The Big Bamboo Agency

  • Heather Matthews, Managing Director of Little's Chauffeur Drive

  • David Dickson, Founder and CEO of Family Business Matters

  • Mike Kane, Partner and Head of Family Business at Turcan Connell

Stewart Sanderson - Brooks Macdonald

Stewart is Head of Private Clients for Brooks Macdonald, a leading Wealth Manager. With 15 offices across the UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man, Brooks Macdonald have the privilege of managing over £17bn on behalf of their clients and are long term partner of FBU; helping families manage, grow and protect their wealth. Stewart is a fellow of the Chartered Investment and Securities Institute and a Board member and Trustee of Essex Community Foundation.

Tim Croxson - Croxsons

Tim is the fifth generation CEO of Croxsons, a 152 year old glass packaging supplier into the UK’s best loved food and drink brands. Tim is passionate about family businesses, believing they can make a generational difference to local communities and society.

As Tim explains; "As a previous winner, I’m pleased to be involved with this year’s awards, looking at many of the fantastic businesses we have within the family business community. It is inspiring and challenging in equal measure to see so many businesses championing their cause and the family business movement."

Jennifer Leeder - Birketts

Jennifer is an employment law specialist with over 20 years’ post-qualification experience. A Legal Director in Birketts’ Employment Team, Jennifer leads the firm’s Family Business Service Group, which offers legal advice on succession planning, sales and acquisitions, governance issues, employment, resolving disputes, setting up trusts and other personal wealth protection issues.

Jennifer said: “I’m delighted to be on the judging panel for the 2024 Family Business of the Year Awards. As with previous years, the calibre of entrants this year is incredibly high and I’m looking forward to playing a role once again in deciding the worthy winners. I hope to meet many of the entrants at the gala awards evening in June and wish everyone the very best of luck.”

Stuart Dantzic - Caribbean Blinds UK Limited

Stuart is the second generation Managing Director of award winning manufacturer, Caribbean Blinds UK Limited. Based in Sudbury in Suffolk they are the UK's leading External shading manufacturer and from outdoor living to solar shading, they’ve got you covered, whatever the weather. Since 1987, Caribbean Blinds have been exclusively designing and manufacturing in the UK the very finest external shading systems for discerning homeowners and businesses across the country, that transform the use, functionality and enjoyment of all types of spaces.

Kirsty Ross - Turcan Connell

Kirsty is a director in the business law team and part of the family business leadership team providing business, legal and tax advisory services to family businesses in Scotland. During her career, she has spent the last 25 years working with family business and the last 7 as a family business consultant, helping family businesses of all size and age during times of change.

Her experience in succession planning, family governance and the creation of supportive policies has enabled families to reach consensus on their shared purpose for the future of their family business. Kirsty is an active member of the Family Firm Institute (FFI), and holds a distinction in the STEP Advanced Certificate in Advising Family Business and the Advanced Course on Family Business Governance.

She also has extensive experience in delivering programmes for the Next Generation, Women in Family Businesses and the Scottish Family Business Leader’s forum, in conjunction with the Institute for Family Business (now Family Business UK) and Family Business United and sits on the Advisory Board of the Scottish Family Business Community.

Paddy Dyson - HMG Paints

Paddy is the marketing manager of multi-generational family business, HMG Paints, based in Mancheter. HMG Paints are previous winners of these awards and Paddy is giving back to the process by being a judge this year.

As Paddy himself explains: “It’s great to be judging the FBU Awards for 2024. There are plenty of amazing family businesses shortlisted and I’m looking to learning about them via the awards process. Having previously won awards at the event I know just how much effort goes in to the entries and how much joy it can bring businesses when they win."

Ben Fowler - Western Pension Solutions

Ben is the Managing Director of Western Pension Solutions, a specialist pension consultancy that provides strategic advice to family businesses for managing their legacy defined benefit pension schemes.

Stuart Hatcher - Forsters

Stuart is Head of the Forsters’ Corporate team where he advises across a full range of domestic and international corporate law issues, including M&A, venture capital, private equity and other shareholder investments, group reorganisations and the return of value to shareholders.

His expertise covers investment and shareholder activity, governance, overseas expansion, restructurings, disposing of non-core assets and management incentive schemes. Stuart is particularly known for his work with private businesses with a particular focus on family businesses, owner managed businesses and fast growth companies and entrepreneurs.

Mairi Mickel - Mairi Mickel's Business Families

Mairi Mickel runs her own consultancy which specialises in family dynamics, governance and communication. Supporting generational and business transitions through a blend of coaching, mediating and advising, she holds safe spaces for UK SME business families and their owners to make collective decisions about their futures together.

Previously a main board director, she continues to be an active 4th generation owner of her 99 year old Scottish construction family firm, Mactaggart & Mickel Group Ltd. She is a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute (FFI), participates as an NED on a 2nd Generation Family business in Colorado and is a Visiting Professor at the Strathclyde University Business School.

Mairi welcomed the invitation to be a judge on the awards adding: "I’m delighted to be taking part in the judging panel for the National Family Business of the Year Awards organised by Family Business United. It is an honour to take part in raising awareness of the myriad of fantastic businesses owned and run by families in the UK."

Angela Morris - The Wool Packaging Company

Angela Morris has run her own creative packaging design businesses for over 30 years and is CEO of The Wool Packaging Company and founder of the Woolcool brand. Angela’s constructional and creative packaging experience covers a variety of different sectors.

Woolcool was recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category in 2018, achieved B Corp Status in 2020 and won a second Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2022.

In September 2023 Angela was extremely proud to receive a FBU Lifetime Achievement Award and in October 2023 Angela was honoured to become a member of the ancient Guild of Woolmen.

Woolcool is now a second-generation family business with two of Angela’s daughters taking it forward, Josie as Managing Director and Jessica as Finance Director.

Angela is delighted to be a judge on the awards this year adding: "With Woolcool being previous winners of three FBU Family Business awards and myself as a 2023 FBU Lifetime Achievement winner, I am delighted to contribute my experience in evaluating and recognising outstanding family businesses for the FBU 2024 Business Awards."

"Family business values are integral to our economic landscape and the FBU awards provide a platform where we can celebrate their incredible achievements, innovation, sustainability, and resilience."

Colleen Gostick - Buckles

Colleen Gostick is the multiple award-winning Chairman of leading regional law firm Buckles Solicitors, and Consultant to Franco-Italian law firm CastaldiPartners. "Having sponsored these awards for a number of years I am delighted to be part of celebrating excellence in the Family Business sector across a broad spectrum of businesses and industries," she confirms.

Beverley Mitchell - Beverley Mitchell Consulting Ltd

Beverley Mitchell has been working in or alongside family businesses for most of her career and has personally experienced the high levels of engagement and commitment that strong family business values and culture can inspire. She set up Beverley Mitchell Consulting Ltd (BMC) in early 2015 to help family businesses to leverage their unique values and culture to attract and retain talent and drive engagement across every level and in every area of their business. She has recently expanded her offering further and is now using her experience and expertise to coach and mentor leaders in family businesses.

Ellie Milner - Mills & Reeve

Ellie Milner is a solicitor and Partner at Mills & Reeve. She specialises in advising entrepreneurs and family business owners in relation to their succession planning. Her work includes advising on estate planning, including Wills and tax efficient gifting structures, as well as advice to both the business and family on governance matters. Ellie holds advanced certificates in Advising the Family Business and Family Business Governance, and is on the STEP Business Families Global Special Interest Group Committee.

As Ellie adds: “Family businesses are an integral part of our society, often with inspirational stories behind them. Being able to support those involved in these businesses in managing their succession in an open and planned way, and navigate what can often be a difficult transitional time for the family, is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to find out more about our best regional and national businesses through the 2024 Family Business of the Year Awards and to be a judge this year."

Becky Valentine - Spenbeck

Becky Valentine is one of the East Midland’s leading Sustainability and Building Health consultants, supporting and advising businesses, schools and charities in improving their sustainability, wellbeing and performance.

Co-owner at multi-award-winning, second-generation family business Spenbeck and winner of the 2022 Business Desk East Midlands’ Green Leader Award, Becky, is a Certified Carbon Literacy Facilitator and the decarbonisation and retrofit lead for a 40,000ft² of Grade II Listed heritage commercial portfolio.

As Becky adds: “The family business sector is the engine of UK plc and I am honoured to have been invited to help judge the 2024 Family Business Awards. I am excited to learn and celebrate how this year’s entrants have used their resilience and long-term mindset to support wider economic and societal success."

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