Our Judges

We have developed our judging over 18 years and our judges, all top business people within their chosen arena, have cited our awards as both the most transparent and professionally executed. Each application is scored by up to 4 different judges from a panel of up to 30 judges, all applications are seen by different members of the judging panel. The judges spend several hours and score not only their own sponsored category but several others too, this ensures transparency. The first page of questions is designed to give the judges a real feel for your business, followed by several questions that are scored from 1 to 5. It is worth noting that although all judging is computer based please ensure you upload images or screen shots of all important pages. There are no site visits or presentations involved. The finalists are chosen by adding all the scores and up to 16 entrants can make it through to the final, however if scoring is low, less entrants make it through. Should you wish to read our Top Tips, please click HERE

Debbie Lewis

Founder and Managing Director | Salon Angels Ltd

With 25 years of salon experience; fifteen of those as an award winning salon owner, Debbie Lewis is now a successful business coach and industry speaker. Founder and Managing Director of Salon Angels Ltd; a recruitment, training and events agency for the hair and beauty industry. Debbie is also an Entrepreneur Acceleration Manager for NatWest, based in Milton Keynes supporting hundreds of business owners with growth and scale challenges each year.

Chris Luff

CEO | Watford and West Herts Chamber of Commerce

For 30+ years I have witnessed the rising demand for corporate social responsibility. If you do not have strategic planning for your CSR initiatives, you’re falling behind the times and missing opportunities to earn customer loyalty and grow your business. In a 2016,in a report published by Statista Research Department, UK C-suite executives interviewed listed “demonstratable CSR” as one of the leading concerns of their customers.

Let me ask you, what socially responsible actions do customers associate with your brand? If the list is short, I can help…

My consultation provides you with a stakeholder analysis, assessment of corporate values, and guidance on the best way forward to communicate these values to your community. Ideally CSR design is forward-looking, meaning we work together to determine actions that will benefit your customers and your bottom line. However, my CSR guidance can also lead you to the most appropriate response to a public crisis.

Socially responsible actions yield benefits money cannot buy. If you are looking to generate more positive business outcomes.

Chris Davies

Managing Director | Sandler Training UK

I’m an experienced Managing Director, four decades at every grade with several Blue-Chip Global organisations. Now a Sales Turnaround & Growth specialist.

An honest, authentic approach is vital in achieving great outcomes but that doesn’t have to be delivered at a cost! Energy, civility, and good humour goes a long way to promote wellbeing, staff retention and performance gains.

My speciality is supporting a business to deliver their own ‘turnaround’ and move well away from performances that fail to meet requirements. Perhaps it’s addressing concerns with an individual or team culture, requiring safe but effective realignment to compete within today’s business environment.

If you haven’t revised your sales process, recruitment practices or talent management in the last 18 months or come to terms with the impact of social isolation, confidence and wellbeing then its unrealistic to assume the predictability of hitting future targets.

I deliver regular group reinforcement of skills and best practice LIVE online as an accredited Sandler™ Coach and also provide bespoke NED involvement to organisations. Sometimes with Entrepreneurs or Sales Leaders / CSOs its 1:1 coaching.

In 2022 I launched our first residential Leadership Retreat in Snowdonia delivering Skills, Wellbeing and Team Building.

Matthew John

BID Development Director | MyMiltonKeynes

Matthew John has been working in Business Improvement Districts for many years, specialising in renewals, Business Engagement, Business Crime and Development Strategy. He is the Development Director for MyMiltonKeynes BID and is responsible for delivering a new Business Crime Partnership and realising the vision for CMK detailed in the renewal winning Business Plan of 2022.

Simon Long

Managing Partner | Franklins Solicitors LLP

Simon is the Firm’s Managing Partner, having succeeded Michael Franklin (one of the co-founders of the Firm) following Michael’s retirement. Simon attended Coventry University, graduating with a degree in Law and then undertook his Law Society examinations at Chancery Lane in London. He joined the firm in 1988 and qualified as a solicitor in 1990.

Simon became a partner with Franklins in 1993, specialising at that time in all aspects of commercial and corporate law. This has placed him in a strong position to offer family law advice in disputes involving privately owned companies.

Working closely with the Franklins Business Services team, Simon has developed the firm’s commercial and corporate offering in to one of the most highly regarded locally, acting for owner managed businesses through to large corporate organisations. In addition, Simon oversees our relationship with a number of banking institutions for whom the firm regularly acts.

As Managing Partner, Simon works closely alongside the Chief Financial Officer, Alison Gee, in developing the strategy for the continued development of the firm.

Andrea Smith

Partner, Business Services | Franklins Solicitors LLP

Andrea is a partner in the Firm and Head of Business Services, responsible for the teams specialising in Corporate Services, Commercial Property, Employment, Commercial and Intellectual Property Rights.

Although Andrea’s specific area of specialism and particular interest is mergers, acquisitions and disposals, her area of corporate practice is diverse and includes shareholders agreements, share schemes, company re-structures, joint ventures, and company compliance and advice. Andrea’s clients range from individual shareholders and owner-managed businesses, to large national and international companies. Andrea would describe her approach to working with her clients as being based on the provision of a flexible, approachable and client-driven service.

Outside of Andrea’s corporate practice in the firm, she sits on the board of directors of Northampton Town Centre Limited, which is responsible for implementing the business plan, vision and objectives for Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District. In 2016, Andrea was awarded Commercial Lawyer of the Year for the Midlands by Acquisition International and in 2017 she was awarded Partner of the Year by Corporate Vision Magazine.
In her spare time, Andrea enjoys running and dreams to one day tackle the Great Wall of China marathon.

Donna Budden

Business Development Director | Eco Design Consultants

Donna Budden is a director at Eco Design Consultants, an award-winning Architectural firm specialising in Passivhaus design. Her role is to ensure that Eco Design Consultants continues to develop in accordance with the company’s vision of delivering beautiful, practical, and fun buildings which have a minimal impact on the environment.

Donna has a broad range of management experience gained in the corporate, statutory, and voluntary sectors. She is passionate in her belief that the best organisations can combine the greatest strengths of each of these sectors to deliver services and products to their customers which are truly socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable.

Kerry Lewis-Stevenson

Publisher | NN & MK Pulse Magazine, Business Times and Business MK

Kerry is a relative newcomer to awards judging, but as a serial entrepreneur herself and with her fascination for how small and medium-sized companies contribute to the local community, it’s been a real pleasure to see what talented business owners can do.

Kerry studied graphic design, so she has creative flair and a great eye for detail which she has used to provide a laser-sharp focus to the marketing materials of some of the country’s leading food and consumer brands in retail and business to business (B2B) environments.

Together with her husband, who has won awards as a super-heavyweight body builder, she has also run a successful online business focussed on sports nutrition.

For almost 15 years Kerry has published the popular Pulse magazines in the Northampton and Milton Keynes areas which continue to fulfil her vision to create local magazines unlike any others. Reaching over 50,000 households every month, they have found their place in the community as a friendly source of local information and are trusted by many loyal advertisers.

Not to be deterred by the coronavirus restrictions, the magazines continued online until they could be safely welcomed through letterboxes again. At the same time, Kerry embraced the opportunity to take over the reins at Northamptonshire’s popular business newspaper, Business Times. Since then, she has also added the Business MK title to her publishing portfolio.


Matt Roberts

Centre Manager | Capital Space LTD (Milton Keynes  Business Centre)

Matt is an experienced Senior Business Manager with a 20 year career covering Leisure, Hospitality and Commercial Property. Since April 2018 Matt has been proudly leading a fantastic team as Business Centre Manager for Capital Space Ltd, Based at Milton Keynes Business Centre. The team pride themselves on providing the very best flexible Office, Studio and Workshop space for their customers on monthly rolling licence agreements. The Capital Space team also provides additional business support to SME’s with great meeting, virtual office and call handling services. Matt takes a keen interest in promoting sustainable business practices, and has trained in both Horticulture and Environmental Management. Matt has been a judge for the Milton Keynes and Bucks awards for 3 years and a National Awards judge for 2.

Simon McGowan

Regional Manager | Complete I.T.

Simon has worked in service led roles for the last 12 years of his career and for one of the UK’s largest MSPs in the IT and technology industry – Complete I.T. (CIT).

Simon has spent the last 3 years of his career at CIT operating as the Regional Manager for the High Wycombe office – which is one of 7 Complete I.T. regional offices – where they provide technical consultancy to more than 200 businesses in the SME market.

‘Building relationships is at the heart of what we do and means our clients view us as being part of their team, making our relationships thrive and allowing our business to grow together over the years. Our aim is to enable our clients to work smarter through the use of technology, complemented by our expert team of Consultants.’

Simon is looking forward to being a judge in this year’s SME MK & Bucks awards.

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