The 4th annual Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award ceremony took place in London today, recognising the unsung heroes of the UK communications industry. Unlike other results-driven awards, it acknowledges individuals of exceptional character, principle and determination.
This year, for the first time, two outstanding individuals were honoured, following the creation of two award categories: Inspiration and Rising Star.
Emma Tweedie, Director at Teacake Tuesday, was chosen as the first recipient of the Suzy Spirit Inspiration Award from a shortlist of four, while Euan Steedman, Press Officer at the BBC, scooped the first, strongly contested, Rising Star Award. Both winners were praised by the judges during the award ceremony for their dedication, compassion and kindness towards others.
The award was launched by LEWIS, in partnership with Gorkana, in 2014. It recognises those who have made a real difference to others in the industry and honours LEWIS’ former employee, Suzy Ferguson, who passed away from bowel cancer in 2012, aged 31. At today’s ceremony, a donation of £4,000 was made to Bowel Cancer UK to support its work and research to save lives and improve the quality of life for all those affected by bowel cancer.
The Suzy Spirit Inspiration Award is aimed at established PR and comms professionals who set a shining example through mentoring and championing others. The Suzy Spirit Rising Star Award is aimed at industry newcomers who may only be at the beginning of their careers, but who already demonstrate Suzy’s qualities and characteristics at work and while volunteering in their community.
This year’s winners were selected from a shortlist of seven finalists.The judging panel comprised Suzy’s father, Canon John Carter; Suzy’s widower, Alex Ferguson; Sally O’Neill, VP International at LEWIS; Jeremy Thompson, CEO (EMEA & India) at Cision and PR Newswire and last year’s winner, Henry Playfoot.
“It’s fantastic to see the Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award growing every year. With the introduction of two categories, and Gorkana’s help in reaching so many people across the comms industry, we saw more nominations this year from in-house and agency, and across the UK, ” said Sally O’Neill, VP International at LEWIS and one of the judges. “It was a tough decision as all the finalists showed such dedication, strong ethics and clearly inspire everyone around them without even realising it. It’s this spirit that we want to encourage, and Emma and Euan are very worthy winners.”
Grace Garland, who nominated Emma, said she is great fun to work with, has a natural warmth and is in her element when using her incredible networking skills to bring people and projects together. “Emma has a reassuring and inspiring presence and isn’t afraid to take risks – something I find extremely admirable.”
Emma has helped inspire women over the years through a programme of mentoring. She has also supported a variety of charitable and sustainable organisations. Recently, she volunteered for the global humanitarian initiative, Live to Love. Here, she organised a TV and radio campaign (three weeks before her wedding), a celebrity fundraiser, an auction at BAFTA and a screening of the Pad Yatra Long Walk to Freedom to raise awareness of how pollution in the Himalayas is affecting climate change.
The winner of the Rising Star award, Euan Steedman, has been described as an ambitious and determined spirit by Natalie Clark, Press Officer at the BBC. “He constantly embraces new opportunities and never says no to a new challenge.”
Expressing an interest in Fairtrade and sustainable production during university, Euan set up a Fairtrade group and later volunteered in Northern Ghana on a project devoted to the cause. Its success meant that Euan was later invited to help promote Fairtrade in Scotland, acting as the sustainability lead. He went on to receive the Ryder Cup Scholarship, which recognised his business ambition.
The other five finalists shortlisted for the 2017 Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award were: Polly Kennedy, Director at APCO Worldwide; Camilla Swain, PR Manager at Girlguiding; Claire Foster, Deputy Head of News at Direct Line; Connor Mahon, Account Executive at FleishmanHillard Fishburn and India Smyth, Media Relations Manager at Barclays.
Last year, the award went to Henry Playfoot, then Strategy Director at Claremont Communications and now running his own business, Pitch Doctor. Nicola Green, Director of Communications and Reputation at O2 was presented with the award in 2015 and the inaugural award winner (2014) was Rosie Warin, who worked at Forster Communications at the time, but has since taken up the role of CEO at Kin&Co.