Our Judges

Our Judging Panel for 2018

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Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, CEO of Twycross Zoo and Business Woman of the Year 

Since 2013 Dr Redrobe has invigorated this traditional business, attracting over 500,000 visitors a year, from a loss-making charity into one generating surplus within 2 years and driven the new strategic vision for the site. Her unique combination of animal welfare sensibility, scientific rigour and business acumen has been instrumental in rejuvenating Twycross Zoo and she recently launched the masterplan vision to transform the Zoo into a world-class park, securing £4M investment in the site during 2015. Her efforts were recognised as Business Woman of the Year 2015/6. Sharon was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List 2017. Sharon is a Board member of the Leicestershire LEP and a Regional Board member of the West Midlands CBI.

Ian (square)Ian O’Donnell MBE, Owner of web Design company Real Point and National Councillor and Policy representative for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Coventry & Warwickshire.

Ian is completely dedicated to giving back to his local community both through his personal and professional activities. He started his business in 1994 and now employs 7 people at his office in Hampton-in-Arden, and alongside his commitment to his family and business, Ian is also Chairman of the local Federation of Small Businesses, Chairman of Birmingham Business Club, on the board of the Solihull Safer Partnerships, an active member and trustee of the local church where he leads a weekly youth group and also finds time to be a member of Massey Ferguson running club and Parkrun!

During his time with the FSB, Ian has been invited on a number of occasions to the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street to represent small business in the region, which included a meeting with all Coventry, Warwickshire & Solihull MPs and the transport Minister Norman Baker to raise issues of transport in the region. He also was invited to meet the newly appointed Small Business Ambassadors.

Ian is passionate about skills and engaging with the education sector to ensure that future generations are equipped with basic skills to achieve in business, whether as an employee or a business owner. He has spoken at many Young Enterprise finals as entrepreneurial speaker and is often speaking on the issue of skills at a local and national level. Within his own business he has given opportunities to apprentices and graduates.

Ian has also been an advocate in the region in lobbying for increased broadband and mobile speeds in rural areas. Through his roles within the FSB he has responded to a number of consultations on rural broadband, provided evidence to support the CSW Broadband project and attended meetings with Coventry City Council reference Super connected Cities and involved in the development of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the broader Midlands Engine.

PPaul Carvellaul Carvell, MD of the SFB Group and President of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce 

Paul Carvell is more than just an accountant – he’s a businessman. He is extremely passionate about helping others in business achieve their goals.

Born and bred in Coventry, Paul attended Caludon Castle School then began his career in 1979 at Fox Evans & Partners as a Trainee Accountant.

Since Paul became the Senior Partner in 2007, Stewart, Fletcher & Barrett has grown from strength to strength. Under his leadership, the business has grown by nearly 500%.  SFB are now a nationwide firm, located in Nuneaton, Coventry, London, Wakefield and Hinckley. Among their respective communities, SFB are known to help the localities of their offices thrive by continually recruiting, training and developing local staff. In total, The SFB Group employ over 100 staff.

On an individual level with Paul, there are many achievements. He is the Past President of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, as well as the past Chair of Coventry & Warwickshire First, the local network for professional services organisations and a past President of WSCA & Aims Award Chair.

Paul has won multiple awards, including Business Professional of the Year at the Coventry & Warwickshire First Pro Awards and is the driving force behind SFB constantly being recognised by the British Accountancy Awards.

In addition, Paul always finds time to support his local community – he supported the Nuneaton carnival for a number of years. He has recently formed the SFB Charitable Trust, so that SFB can support a wider number of good causes.

Emma Heathcote-JamesEmma Heathcote-James, MD, The Little Soap Company 

Emma Heathcote-James set up The Little Soap Company in 2008.  Its been a roller coaster journey since then taking Emma from making soap at the kitchen table to selling hundreds of thousands of bars in the national supermarkets.

Her accolades include being a finalist for the Worcestershire Woman of the Year, winning the Hereford & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015 and collecting other industry awards along the way for her increasing range of products. Emma was the Winner of the Coventry Telegraph Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016 and FSB Overcoming Adversity Award 2018.

Its also worth noting that the Little Soap Company was the first company to be taken on by Waitrose within its first year of trading. The reason why Emma’s company has been so successful is that she produced the first organic soap bar to hit the supermarket shelves and at an affordable price, enabling customers for the first time to buy organic soap as part of their regular weekly shop.

Debbie DaviesDebbie Davies, MD, Consilia Consulting

Debbie Davies has had plenty of experience when it comes to judging awards. In her time as Managing Director at the Coventry Telegraph she was on the judging panel for the Godiva awards, First Pro Business Awards, and of course the prestigious Coventry Telegraph Business awards. Debbie is now a Cost Reduction Consultant and lives in Kenilworth with her 88 yr old father and 4 yr old black Labrador Paddy.




Linsey Luke, Development Manager, FSB (Warwickshire & Coventry Region)


Angela Tellyn, Regional Lead for the West Midlands, Careers and Enterprise Company