Exeter Property Awards Success

It has been an extraordinary year for client awards successes. I have to say I’m gobsmacked, not a word I use often! The latest was the Exeter Property Awards. This was the inaugural event and I had worked with two clients, SunGift Solar and Burrington Estates to put submissions together.

Both were shortlisted in a number of categories, SunGift in the Green Initiative and Suppliers & Services categories and Burrington Estates in the Developer and Transformation categories, the latter for the amazing Winslade Manor on the Winslade Park development.

These awards took place during an afternoon event at Sandy Park. I wasn’t there in person, in fact while the awards were being announced I was walking the dogs on Hembury Fort! However, I followed the results on Twitter. I lost the connection for a while, but when Twitter updated I was thrilled to see that SunGift had collected the Suppliers & Services award, and Burrington Estates had won the Transformation award. What I didn’t know until later on in the evening when SunGift MD Gabriel texted me, was that SunGift had also jointly won the Green Initiative with Grenadier (who collected a whopping three awards in total). Well, I have to say, three out of four ain’t bad!

There are just two more to go now, with the Western Morning News Awards (SunGift again) and the Family Law Awards, where The Family Law Company is shortlisted in the Wellbeing category. Then maybe a month or two respite, before it all starts again….

Congratulations to all the winners at the Exeter Property Awards!

 

Awards update

With apologies for the double negative, I can’t not revisit this after the Devon & Somerset Law Society (DASLS) Awards took place last week.

It was a ‘virtual’ awards event, hosted by David Fitzgerald and perhaps the quickest awards I’ve ever attended (I think it took all of 30 mins)! I’d poured a glass of fizz in readiness just in case one of the finalists from The Family Law Company won. In the end I had to pour another as the award wins came thick and fast.

The first announced was the President’s Special Recognition Honours, a new award introduced to acknowledge someone who went the extra mile for clients and colleagues during the pandemic. I’d helped to put together a nomination for incredibly hardworking Senior Associate Solicitor Imran Khodabocus – and was so pleased when he was chosen in recognition for his extraordinary commitment not just in his work but for his community.

In the category awards success for The Family Law Company continued. Jane Chanot won Solicitor of the Year; Cassie Saunders picked up Support Team Member; Hannah Porter was named Rising Star; Gemma Sparks won Chartered Legal Executive; and Donna Hart was highly commended in Leader of the Year, with Grace Bradley a finalist in the Legal Aid Lawyer category.

At the same time as DASLS, the National Paralegal Awards took place virtually. The Family Law Company’s Becka Combes was a finalist in the Family Law and Best Newcomer categories and was delighted to win both categories. Becka wrote both her nominations, I just gave her a little help in tidying them up. So all credit to Becka, what a great win!

PS there was much hilarity at DASLS when one of the finalists forgot to mute themselves and we all heard them discussing Gus Honeybun who, local people will know, was a stuffed rabbit who Mr Fitzgerald had to work with many moons ago…. Let that be a lesson to all of us who continue to use Zoom.

PPS Not long after DASLS, The Family Law Company also won at the prestigious Law Society Awards, where they were awarded Excellence in Practice Management. Wow!

Awards Season

Awards season 2021 has been non stop with nominations for clients. In fact, I can’t remember when I’ve worked on quite so many.

Now the shortlist announcements and awards events are in full swing.

Four clients were finalists at the recent Exeter Living Awards:

  • Winners: The Recycled Candle Company (Retailer) and The Family Law Company (Legal & Financial)
  • Finalists: Burrington Estates (Property) and Griffin Chartered Accountants (Legal & Financial)
  • The Outdoors Group won Education, with their own nomination

The Family Law Company is a finalist in the upcoming Family Law Awards (Wellbeing), Law Society Awards (Excellence in Practice Management), DASLS Awards (seven categories!), Paralegal Awards. They were finalists earlier in the year for the Legal Aid Awards and we have also entered the Wellness Awards.

The Recycled Candle Company has won a Green Apple Environmental Award and – all being well – will visit the Houses of Parliament to collect the award in November. We’re trying to get a Queens Award nomination ready but there’s so much detail this one may have to wait a year.

My newest client, SunGift Solar, is a finalist in the Western Morning News Awards in both categories we entered, SME and Environmental. We wait to hear with bated breath about the Solar & Storage Awards.

And I have recently submitted a nomination for London client Diespeker & Co in the South East Manufacturing Awards.

More to come with the Exeter Property Awards and then I guess we start all over again!

There is definitely a skill to writing a successful nomination. And whilst data and evidence is of paramount importance, it is also crucial to be honest, and to give heart to a nomination.

It’s all part of the service!

Volunteer Mentor Award

Life sometimes takes an unexpected turn doesn’t it? It certainly did on Friday November 20th when I found myself attending a digital awards event ‘in’ Hull.

My connection with Hull came about after I reconnected with Charles Cracknell, an alumni of King Alfred’s College (now the University of Winchester). Charles commissioned me to copy-edit the Hull Global Entrepreneurship Week brochure and it’s become an annual project. I have got to know many names of the businesses, schools and individuals who get involved in GEW each year.

When lockdown hit, a lot of the young entrepreneurs were excluded from financial help as they’d not been in business long enough. A dangerous oversight I think. Charles wasn’t going to sit back and do nothing so he asked business people to help out as a mentors. I agreed to get involved. And so I was introduced to Blush Cleaning, and the vivacious Alex and Nicole. Over the months I’ve given them support with grant applications, Covid-19 safety protocols and advice for Facebook posting (they’re actually really good at it!).

I knew from my copy-editing that GEW always had an awards event, the Hull Youth Enterprise Awards, so I was rather surprised – and pleased – to be included on a shortlist as a Partner. I was even more pleased that Blush Cleaning was a finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

For the event, I duly looked out a smart top, although I will admit to wearing fluffy socks. I poured myself a glass of fizz. I saw and heard lots of people I’ve come across in the brochure copy year after year – it was fantastic to put faces to names. And then the awards were announced.

I was thrilled when Alex and Nicole were announced as winners of The Sheila Waudby Young Entrepreneur of the Year. I didn’t win my category, but then I wasn’t expecting to. But then came a category I wasn’t aware of, with special Awards presented for outstanding service to enterprising young people. Announcing the John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Volunteer Mentor Award, the presenter described the winner as living in Devon… I realised it was me! I think I gave a little acceptance speech, I can’t remember as I was in shock. And maybe on my fourth glass of fizz!

So thank you to the lovely people of Hull GEW and the John Cracknell team. I love the fact that I’m here in the deepest South West supporting young entrepreneurs in the North East. When things settle down I’ll be paying a visit to meet Blush Cleaning face to face!

Winners

Best Professional Service Award

Wow! I went along to the 373 Awards in the capacity of a finalist, and came home as an award winner!

It was a complete surprise to be named winner for Best Professional Service, and a real honour. Thank you to those who nominated me.

I was slightly concerned as two clients were finalists in the same category and I didn’t want to upset anyone… but I needn’t have worried. Chilcotts were awarded Highly Commended, which they were delighted about, and Rachel Buckley from The Family Law Company was named Top 373 Person. So everyone was happy.

Well done too, to Sarah Martin at Nourish, Highly Commended in the Start Up category and Rusty Pig, who although they didn’t win, were worthy finalists in the Rural category.

It was lovely to meet all the other finalists at the awards event held at Escot House. The 373 Awards celebrate lots of businesses that don’t always get recognition, so many of them I didn’t know of before.

I came home with a lovely hamper of goodies donated by local busineses, including a jar of award-winning raspberry jam from my client Otter Garden Centres! (I have to say the chocolate didn’t make it home, it was consumed immediately by Rachel, Donna Hart and me!).

DASLS

Legal Awards Success

After the success of Nourish at the Exeter Living Awards, it was the turn of long-term legal clients The Family Law Company at the Devon and Somerset Legal Society Awards.

They were shortlisted in five categories and were kind enough to invite me along to join their table at the awards event held at Exeter Cathedral. What a beautiful venue, if a tad chilly!

After a lovely dinner created by Taste Catering (which included the challenge of carving a huge piece of lamb for the meat eaters and a whole stuffed butternut squash for us veggies), the awards began.

Our first thrill was when Kirsty Thyer from The Family Law Company’s Plymouth office was awarded Highly Commended as Leader of the Year.

Kirsty Thyer

Next, the whole firm was recognised as the winners of Law Firm of the Year (1-10 Partners). Our table got very loud, then very quiet as the whole team made their way to the stage to collect the award! But that wasn’t the end of it, and there were tears all round when Imran Khodabocus was named Solicitor of the Year.

Also up for awards were Carrie Laws, for Chartered Legal Exec, and Hannah Porter for Rising Star. Although they didn’t win, they were both proud to be finalists and will no doubt be put up for awards again soon (Carrie has already been entered for the CILEx Awards).

I was totally surprised a couple of days’ later when a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived on my doorstep, from Rachel and everyone at the firm, thanking me for my efforts helping to write their award submissions. Well, I always say that an award submission is only as good as the people it is written about. You can’t make an awards submission up, you have to write the truth. I knew when I interviewed Imran, for example, that he was a potential winner as his story was so compelling.

Well done to this amazing firm, they’ve had to get a bigger trophy cabinet. We’ve just released the news that they have appointed four new Directors (and amazingly for a law firm, 58% of the Board are now women!).

Sarah with her award

Nourish is the Winner!

It was a pleasure to attend this year’s Exeter Living Awards with two clients, The Family Law Company and Nourish of Topsham.

The event is held annually at The Great Hall at Exeter University, which was beautifully decorated, as usual.

I believe I proved my worth to Sarah of Nourish when I elbowed my way to the free bar to grab the last two glasses of pink prosecco on arrival.

What a lovely night it was, especiaWith Sarah at Exeter Living Awardslly when Nourish was announced as the winner of the Retail category. Which I almost missed as I was scrabbling around on the floor trying to find a bracelet that had slipped from my wrist.

I seem to remember Sarah swearing mildly when she went on stage to receive her award (this was nothing compared to the Mexican wave initiated by another winner, Good Game, who were, they freely admitted, slightly the worse for wear).

Commiserations to The Family Law Company who were pipped at the post in the Legal and Financial category, but coming up very soon is the DASLS Awards. I have everything crossed that they will collect at least one award at this event. Nourish is a finalist again at the Venus Awards next week, in the New Business Category, so watch this space!

I’m now working on submissions for the Exeter Business Awards for a number of clients, after which hopefully there will be a break before the next raft!

Although it seems to be awards season at the moment, there’s plenty more going on; Nourish is working towards opening its second store in Magdalen Road, and I’m delighted to have secured lots of great coverage for this including: Devon Live | Business Insider | Exeter Daily | Crumbs Magazine

Awards logos

Client Business Awards Update

What a great start to the year it’s been for two of my clients; The Family Law Company and Nourish, both shortlisted in legal and business awards.

In the latter part of 2018 I worked on five submissions with The Family Law Company for DASLS Awards 2019, visiting the offices in Exeter and Plymouth and meeting with four solicitors and legal execs. All had strong stories which made great submissions. I was delighted when they were all announced as awards finalists. The company was also shortlisted in Law Firm of the Year (1 – 10 Partners). All will be revealed on 4th April at Exeter Cathedral.

The Family Law Company was also shortlisted in the national Modern Law Awards, Boutique Law Firm of the Year. Winners will be announced on 31st January.

In a hat trick, I also entered the company for the Exeter Living Awards, in the Legal & Financial Category. The Family Law Company won this category two years’ ago, so it will be interesting to see if they can pull it off again! This awards event is on March 7th.

I have recently started working with a wonderful new client, Nourish of Topsham. Nourish is a zero waste provisions store in Topsham, just outside Exeter. Created with style and panache by the talented and dedicated Sarah Martin, it’s a fantastic proposition. We entered Nourish into two categories at the Exeter Living Awards: New Business and Retail. Nourish has been shortlisted in both. She’s also a finalist in the Venus Awards for New Business, not my doing and thank you to whoever nominated her!

I’m very excited that The Family Law has invited me to the DASLS Awards and Nourish is taking me to the Exeter Living Awards. Although it’s never about me but all about my clients, I do enjoy the chance to be there on the night and cheer them on.

Good luck!

Legal Hero Norman Hartnell

A True Legal Hero

Awards Success – Legal Hero

Last year’s Devon and Somerset Law Society (DASLS) Awards were a great success for The Family Law Company. Three solicitors won their categories, and we made much use of the term ‘hat-trick of awards’. They were all female solicitors and this added to the kudos – law remains a male-dominated sector.

Fast forward to this year’s awards. Of the two submissions I worked on, the first was for Plymouth solicitor Derek Jordan who is a rock for difficult domestic violence cases. I spoke to Derek at length and felt humbled by his commitment to standing up for vulnerable clients.

The second submission was for Norman Hartnell. Norman is the founder and Managing Director of The Family Law Company – his ethos underpins the company’s refreshing attitude to family law. Norman is the last to blow his own trumpet, so the submission was carried out in secret. His colleagues asked me to enter him for the Legal Hero category.

I spoke to people at length to gather information and everyone had nothing but praise for him. His commitment for the past 25 years (and more) has been to turn family law from a combatative process to one that attempts to keep couples amicable. This is especially important where there are children involved.

The submission seemed strong to me, but you never can tell with awards. The judges decision, as they say, is final.

The Legal Hero award was to be announced on the night, so there was no shortlist. I could only keep my fingers crossed. I was delighted that Derek was shortlisted, particularly as his area of work is by far and away a less ‘glamorous’ area of law.

Unfortunately, the heavy snow we experienced in the South West in March scuppered the original awards event. It moved to May and Norman was unable to attend, as he was on holiday. However, the team FaceTimed him with the news that he had been announced as DASLS Legal Hero 2018. There were certainly a few tears shed.

Although Derek didn’t win on this occasion, he was acknowledged as a finalist. I am hopeful that he will win on another occasion, as he thoroughly deserves to.

Legal Hero DASLS AwardsWell done to Norman. Having worked with The Family Law Company for several years and been touched by family law issues in my own life, I agree with everyone, you are a true Legal Hero.

The award was collected on Norman’s behalf by Rachel Buckley and Stephen Sowden.

Post-awards news report here.

 

London PR for Diespeker

London Calling – London PR

I’ve been working with agency Terra Ferma Media for five or so years as an associate. Initially managing social media for a number of their clients including Ellenborough Park, Mantis Travel and (my favourite for kudos alone) Bear Grylls Survival School, they then asked if I could write the copy for their client Diespeker & Co’s new website. Naturally I said yes! This led to an invitation to handle the PR for the London natural stone and terrazzo company, which I leapt at.

Three years’ on and last night, an email landed in my inbox. The client wanted to tell his outsourced marketing team that his turnover had doubled over the last year and that he was extremely excited by this news! As was I, of course.

Impactful

There’s little doubt that the work we’ve all been putting in has had a significant impact on the success of the business. Diespeker’s website, when it launched, was – and still is – way ahead of competitor websites in terms of content and style. We add regular news updates and the stories we tell are not only about projects, but Diespeker’s supported charity (Stem4) and MD John Krause’s exploits as a marathon runner.

I was really pleased in November when Diespeker won Manufacturer of the Year at the South East Manufacturers Awards. Although I wrote the submission, the proof is in the pudding – the work that Diespeker is doing with bespoke terrazzo is unequalled by any other manufacturer in the UK.

The future

We’re about to embark on a company magazine, which I’m delighted to be editing. I know we’re entrenched in digital, digital, digital, so it’s lovely to be working on a print publication for a change. There’s also going to be a launch later this year, of an offshoot business aimed more at the luxury interiors market. Can’t wait!

It’s a privilige to be working with Diespeker & Co, to be part of the company’s journey to greater and greater success.

Yet, although I love my visits to London, the buzz of the Smoke and seeing old haunts (we passed by a flat I once lived in, in Streatham, on my last visit), I also love returning to Devon. It’s always fascinating taking the train, and watching the regular commuters in their daily routine. I have the best of both worlds, I think.