Judging Panel 

We have developed our judging over 15 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 at least 4 different judges from a panel of up to 22 judges, all applications are seen by different members of the judging panel.
The judges meet over 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 8 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

 JC headshot July 2017

June Cory

My Mustard

June Cory has a career spanning almost thirty years in media management, sales and training. She fell into selling newspaper advertising space and not only did she love it, she was really rather good at it. After thousands of deadlines, hundreds of targets and a few awards she moved into management & training for industry names including Newsquest & Yell.com.After managing a specialist digital project team in 2006, June understood that the ability to target an audience, measure results & truly control spend would redefine advertising for local businesses & swapped the ink in her veins for zeros and ones and launched My Mustard, an online advertising agency in 2007.

A highly enthusiastic on and offline networker June is a Google Partner, the Vice President of the St Albans Chamber of Commerce, hosts Business Buzz in Watford and talks about Google at various forums. She drinks a lot of coffee…..


Wayne Thompson

Stanair Services

Wayne is the Milton Keynes depot manager of Stanair Industrial door services Ltd, the leading industrial door company of the region. He has been with the company for over 15 years and runs 5 engineering teams covering the local area including Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire.He has always worked in the service industry starting in the insurance sector before moving on and gaining knowledge of both manufacturing and then engineering sectors before arriving at Stanair.

His success comes from a desire to please his customers and creating a happy and productive team around him. After all, we spend most of our time at work, we should only do it if we enjoy it.

A resident of Milton Keynes for 37 years. Wayne and his wife Jaye have 2 children, both daughters, as well as a dog and a guinea pig.

As well as spending time with his family, Wayne’s hobbies include playing golf, going to the cinema and volunteer work at homeless charity Winter Night Shelter MK.


Kellie Jones

DCS Voice & Vision 


Kellie has been at DCS Voice and Vision for 11 years, and started in the telesales department, moving into marketing where she was the marketing manager and has recently been promoted to Head of Business Operations. Having worked for DCS Voice & Vision for so long, she really is passionate about the business, her team and their customers and is tasked with driving the business forward whilst maintaining outstanding Customer Service.

Kellie is excited about being a judge as it will give her an opportunity to see some great local businesses and find out more about what they do and the great people that work for them.

As well as enjoying going to the gym, Kellie’s other hobbies include walking her Patterdale Terrier called Sid, having fun nights out with her friends, eating cheese and drinking wine.


Marcela Crusco

Velocity Growth Hub

Marcela has nearly 20 years of experience in successfully managing businesses in the private and public sector. She joined SEMLEP 4 years ago, bringing enthusiasm, energy, dedication and passion for her work, leading the delivery of the Velocity Growth Hub; a free business support programme that is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.  The Growth Hub has worked with over 2500 businesses since its inception in 2014. Velocity supports business growth across the South East Midlands, offering expert information, advice and guidance from experienced business advisers, as well as providing revenue and capital grants, along with staging many workshops on topical issues.

The High Growth Business of the Year award helps to showcase the important role that growing Bedfordshire businesses play in helping to boost our local economy. Evidence suggests that growing businesses tend to have higher levels of productivity and are more likely to export to new markets than other businesses. Whilst we have over 80,000 PAYE and VAT registered businesses in the South East Midlands very few of them go on to scale up their businesses. So, Velocity Growth Hub is proud to sponsor this award category which acknowledges and celebrates the success of Bedfordshire businesses that have overcome the many obstacles to growth and are achieving their real potential.

 Ian Cording

Ian Cording

FM World

Ian is a seasoned veteran in Business Awards judging with more than two decades of viewing applications UK wide and credits his ‘colourful life’ and no nonsense, pragmatic approach, to business and life in general as adequate credentials to be on this panel. Despite a very busy and full life he is a Bedfordshire Business Ambassador, a volunteer Enterprise Adviser working with SEMLEP and The Careers & Enterprise Company where he is part of a dedicated team building a talent pipeline through employer engagement with the student population, primarily year 12’s in Bedfordshire county and the wider region.

Out of school rather earlier than some he bizarrely started his adult life as a butcher’s apprentice. Thereafter a period of ten years in the public service in various departments allowed him to catch up on his education and then make the leap into the world of business by starting a Planning & Architectural Practice business 33 years ago.

Additionally, this past 10 years, Ian and his wife Birute embraced Network Marketing as a business model so much so they now spend much of their time travelling both in the UK and abroad training, coaching and mentoring their FM World team. A keen ‘crowd fund’ investor Ian still acts in a Planning consultancy capacity for a select group of long standing personal clients and manages a modest property portfolio ‘in trust’ for the family. Family is very big on Ian’s agenda, he loves to travel widely and seamlessly mixes business and pleasure because … ‘he can’.


Adrienne Massey

THSP Risk Management

Adrienne is Managing Director of Sandy-based, THSP Risk Management.  In 1992, she and her husband John Thoday, started THSP (The Health and Safety People) and over the past 25 years Adrienne has been fully participant in all aspects of the business, taking the role of MD in 2013.  THSP provide health and safety, and employment law services to businesses of all types and sizes throughout the UK and into Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Adrienne started THSP with six years’ experience in the insurance industry, followed by three in Public Relations, as well as having a bookkeeping qualification.  Combined with John’s ability to sell and understand the technical side, they had just about everything to make a successful business.  They just needed people!

In 1998, realising that training was essential to people’s growth and work ethic, Adrienne championed Investors in People. They held IIP for 12 years while they watched the company steadily grow.

She saw HR Management as an area for improvement, so gained a Certificate in Personnel Practice, and also became a qualified trainer.  25 years on, Adrienne is still attending short courses to ensure she is up to date with everything from finance to resilience.

Adrienne believes all good businesses need to be balanced with good accounting, good people management and good facilities / IT.  She works hard with her team of Directors and Managers to ensure THSP’s 54 staff earn well, learn continuously, contribute to the organisation and have fun at work.

In her spare time Adrienne plays golf and badminton, arranges flowers (sometimes competitively) and publishes a local monthly magazine for the Sandy churches community.


Sara Searle

Liebherr GB

Sara has worked within Human Resources for over 20 years for a variety of companies. She joined Liebherr-Great Britain and Ireland as Human Resources Manager some 10 years ago where she set up the HR Department from scratch. Today the number of company employees is in excess of 350 and is spread out over 9 sales and service centres across the UK and Ireland. Sara is known throughout the company for always having her ducks in a row.

Sara has a passion for apprenticeships and is currently mentoring 2 of the Liebherr-Great Britain apprentices in their business apprenticeship roles. She has a keen eye for what sets award winning apprentices apart and is delighted to be included on this year’s Bedfordshire SME panel.

Sara has been married to Lee for 22 years and has two children Molly 19 and Matthew 16. When not at work Sara is an active member of local church. She loves spending time with her family, as well as being a taxi service for her teenagers, socialising with friends and walking Charley the family dog. Recently Sara has ticked a box on her ‘Bucket List’ but taking up saxophone lessons. So, watch this space ……..!!

 Steve Irwin photo

Steve Irwin

Liebherr GB


Steve started his career in HR, back in 1996 and has worked for small, medium and large organisations.  He joined Liebherr-Great Britain Ltd in November 2016 as an HR Generalist and one of his roles is to oversee their Apprenticeship Programme.

Steve is a strong advocate for all apprenticeships and can really see the value they give to both the business and apprentice, he is looking forward to his first year of judging the Bedfordshire awards.

Steve lives with his teenage son within Bedfordshire and his passions include Shotokan Karate and tropical fish.

Barry Cowley

Cowley Holmes Accountants

Barry qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1984 and Chartered Tax Advisor in 1987.  Since then he has helped thousands of owner managed businesses to prosper and manage the financial challenges of growth.

Through a mixture technical knowledge and commercial experience, Barry has become an invaluable resource to his clients.  He continues to develop Cowley Holmes Accountants’ operational and service levels to ensure the best possible customer service, business advice and tax saving opportunities for clients.

He is also a Founder Member of The Business Club Bedford which operates to develop working relationships between businesses in the Bedford area.

Having celebrated 25 years since setting up the Practice he is now looking forward helping local businesses and personal tax clients through the next 25 years!

Cowley Holmes Accountants were the winners of the 2017 SME Bedfordshire Best Customer Service Award.

Jo Bird

AllenDay Recruitment

Jo Bird has dedicated over twenty-two years of her working career to AllenDay Recruitment and its award-winning sister company, Morestaff in Dunstable. As the Business Manager, Jo is responsible for overseeing the business strategy, operations and business development for both businesses and maximising all opportunities for growth and change. Jo has been an instrumental part in the continued success of both companies and is the driving force behind implementing new ideas and innovation in order to remain competitive to the growing number of competitors within the industry.

After graduating from Birmingham City University with a degree in HR and Business, Jo spent two years travelling the world exploring destinations including Australia, America and Thailand. In her spare time, Jo is a keen home baker and well known for creating a delicious Victoria Sponge cake which is a winner for all of the team within the office. Jo is thrilled to be joining the judging panel at this year’s SME awards and is looking forward to celebrating and showcasing the success of local businesses

Paul Hillier

Oval Law




 Fiona SME Launch pic

Fiona Wells

Basepoint Luton

Fiona Wells, Centre Manager of Basepoint Luton, joined Basepoint in 2006 at Northfleet before moving across the river to become centre manager at Riverside Business Centre in Tilbury until August 2008. Fiona moved to Bedford and became the centre Manager at Luton, housed in a stunning contemporary building, Basepoint Luton offers superb facilities, incubator units, office space with high speed internet access, break-out area and onsite café. It also has meeting rooms and hosts networking events and workshops.

Justine Ives

Bedford Borough Council

Justine is Business Growth Manager with Bedford Borough Council. She has worked in the economic development profession for nearly 20 years within local and central government.  She joined the Council in 2001 and has led on business engagement with local companies, supporting their growth and development as well as leading on the Council’s superfast broadband project.

As part of the Economic Development team, Justine acts to expand the local economy through the attraction of innovative companies and employment opportunities and by assisting local businesses to increase their competitiveness.

Justine lives locally with her husband and young family and is Vice-Chair of Governors at her children’s school.

Paula Devine

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce

Paula heads up the Membership and Global Services team at the Bedfordshire Chamber. She has been at the Chamber for over 25 years and in that time has worked her way up through the ranks, and loves every minute of it.

The Chamber’s role is to ensure that, working together, they create connections within their ever growing peer network and become an enabler for business growth locally, regionally and nationally.