Henry Playfoot, strategy director at Claremont, was announced as the winner at the third annual Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award today. Integrity, principles and ethics are key strengths of the award, which recognises the unsung heroes of the communications industry.
The award was launched by LEWIS, in partnership with Gorkana, to recognise those who have made a real difference to others in the industry. It honours LEWIS’ former employee, Suzy Ferguson, who passed away from bowel cancer in 2012, aged 31.
Ben Caspersz, founder and MD of Claremont Communications, said he was inspired to make a nomination after reading about Suzy standing at the door of her church welcoming people in: “Welcoming people, that’s what Henry does every day.”
The judging panel agreed, noting his self-effacing manner, his strong integrity, principles and ethics, and his encouragement of clients to ‘do the right thing’ even at the expense of other areas of gain. He was also praised for his mentoring of people at Toastmasters, a not-for-profit organisation that develops public speaking skills.
While Henry doesn’t intentionally frame himself as inspirational, his coworkers disagree. In a formal appraisal setting, two-thirds of feedback from Henry’s colleagues referred to him as “inspiring.”
Henry met the judges last month at LEWIS’ London offices, where he said: “I believe that treating people well, nurturing their talents and recognising their needs as people is a good and right thing to do, but it’s also a good way to run a business.”
He started his career in multi-platform campaigns for the Department of Health and the BBC, before he co-founded his own digital comms firm in 2000. He joined Claremont in 2014 as strategy director.
Henry was chosen from a shortlist of five, following a record number of nominations from around the country. The panel of judges include Suzy’s father, Canon John Carter, a former BBC producer and journalist; Suzy’s husband, Alex Ferguson; Sally O’Neill, VP International at LEWIS; Stephen Waddington, director of Ketchum Europe and former CIPR President; and Jeremy Thompson, EMEA MD at Cision (owner of Gorkana).
When considering the shortlist, the judges looked for four key qualities that embody “The Suzy Spirit”: the ability to inspire others, the candidate’s role as a team mentor, leadership and caring qualities, and how they bring their personal values to activities inside and outside of work.
The other four finalists shortlisted for the 2016 Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award 2016 were Chloe Couchman, head of public relations, Merlin Entertainments (formerly PR director at Carlson Wagonlit Travel when nominated); Anita Glover, head of corporate comms at mhs homes limited; Chloe Staniforth, account executive at Cream Consultancy; and Louise Thompson, marketing and PR manager for Dalton Park retail outlet.
Last year, the award went to Nicola Green, director of communications and reputation at O2. The inaugural award winner in 2014 was Rosie Warin, who worked at Forster Communications at the time, and has since taken over the reins of Global Tolerance.