Judges

Erik Salomonsen

His Honour Judge Erik Salomonsen joined a leading West Country solicitors firm in 1975 and practised in Devon until he was appointed as a Circuit Judge in 2008 and assigned to Birmingham Crown Court. He later returned to Devon and is based in the Exeter Combined Court Centre.

Erik was also President of Devon & Somerset Law Society in 2007/08

Rob Varley

Rob Varley was appointed Chief Executive of the Met Office in September 2014. As part of this role he represents UK meteorological interests with other National Meteorological Services and is the UK representative on the Councils for ECMWF and EUMETSAT.

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Rob’s ambition in this role is to direct the Met Office’s world-class weather and climate science for even greater Government, business and public benefit. Upon appointment Rob said, “It is exciting to lead this highly respected science and service organisation, working with partners around the world to help tackle some of the greatest challenges facing the planet today”.

He has served on the Met Office Executive from 2007 onwards, first as Government Services Director and then as Operations and Services Director. Before joining the Executive, he worked in a variety of roles; starting as a weather forecaster, then spending 10 years at the Met Office College overseeing the training and development of forecasters. Rob then moved on to project manage the procurement and construction of the Met Office’s headquarters at Exeter. Following the move to Exeter in 2003, he worked mainly with the Met Office’s public sector customers, helping the UK to manage the risks and exploit the opportunities associated with our changing weather and climate.

Rob is a Fellow and Chartered Meteorologist of the Royal Meteorological Society, and was Vice President of the Society, 2013–2014. He is also a Chartered Director of the Institute of Directors and was named UK Public/Third Sector Director of the Year in 2012. He is also the UK Permanent Representative to the WMO and Chairman of EUMETNET.

Rob and his wife live in rural Devon and have three grown-up children and one granddaughter, and one grandson. In his free time Rob enjoys exploring the wild moors, mountains and coasts of Britain in all seasons – whatever the weather!

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Graham Colbourne

Graham Colbourne is the Managing Director of Solicitors Own Software (SOS). Having joined the company in 1995, Graham has 20 years’ experience of supplying and supporting software systems to the legal profession.

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He brings a wealth of experience by being able to solve the challenges faced by lawyers, keen to use technology to achieve efficiency and productivity gains and to improve levels of client service. Graham has extensive knowledge of hardware, software, hosting and telecommunications.

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Michael Eavis CBE

Michael Eavis is an English dairy farmer, and creator of Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, which takes place on his farm in Pilton, Somerset.

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It all began in the late sixties; after a casual visit to the Bath Blues festival with his girlfriend Jean, Michael decided to have a go himself in 1970. The Festival did not make a profit for several years, but when it did, Michael began to look for good causes to support both locally and internationally. Nowadays, the Festival aims to raise two million pounds each Festival year in aid of Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid, as well as hundreds of local causes.

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Richard Edwards

Interim Head of the Law School at the University of Exeter.

Richard read history at the University of Southampton, where he took a special interest in British political history and the Crusades. He retains an on-going interest in British political history, particularly the life and career of Sir Winston Churchill. Thereafter, Richard took a further degree in Law at Southampton before attending Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he read for the BCL.

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Richard has a long-standing research interest in human rights law, constitutional law and reform, free speech and aspects of criminal justice. Richard's work has been referred to by the Law Lords, the High Court of Northern Ireland, the House of Lords and the Northern Ireland Law Commission.

Richard has considerable experience in the British university sector, and was most recently an Associate Head of Department at UWE, Bristol (2011-2014). He has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Legal Scholars since 2002.

In 2012 Richard became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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Stephen Roberts

Stephen Roberts is the Chief Executive of North Devon Hospice. North Devon Hospice provides free care and support for 3,000 patients and their families every year who are trying to cope with a terminal illness. North Devon Hospice has to raise over £4m from scratch every year to continue to provide this vital care 24hrs a day 365 days a year.

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Prior to joining the hospice 5 years ago Stephen worked in the City of London for 15 years as Head of Strategic Risk for Europe Middle East and Africa for Marsh & McLennan, the global risk and insurance firm. Law was one of Stephen‘s client sectors whilst at Marsh & McLennan working with both international firms as well as regional solicitors.

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Bill Martin

Bill began his career in 1989 as a reporter on the Express & Echo in Exeter where he became news editor. His career took him next to Norwich where, as news editor, he helped the Evening News win a UK regional daily paper of the year title.

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After a period as a freelance reporter for The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and The Sunday Telegraph he came to Plymouth in 1997 to become news editor of The Herald.

Bill was appointed editor of the Evening Herald, Plymouth in September 2005 and is now realising a lifetime’s ambition editing the region’s morning title the Western Morning News.

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Anne Blackburn

Anne is a customer experience specialist. After 15 years in marketing management and business development for BBC Enterprises and International Thomson Publishing, Anne co-founded the award winning Sidona Group in 2000.

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Sidona help organisations create unique, memorable and profitable customer and employee experiences with customer insight and bespoke training solutions. Anne works in many different sectors including legal, hospitality, construction & retail.

Anne is also a judge for the UK Employee Experience Awards and UK Customer Experience Awards and has judged the Tourism and Hospitality Awards in the South West. Anne is a blogger and columnist for trade journals such as Customer Experience Magazine, HR, Big Hospitality and Hotel Industry Magazine on Customer and Employee Experience. Anne is the author of an Ebook on Hotel Guest Experience Strategy and has presented a series of 8 videos on leading the Guest Experience for the Hospitality Industry.

Anne believes the customer experience is the new battleground of the decade with customer expectations at an all-time high and that organisations will be rewarded or punished for how they treat their customers and employees.

Anne believes passionately that industry awards add huge value to your employee and customer experience and is a great opportunity to share success and best practice.

Anne returned to live in Sidmouth 16 years ago where she grew up. Anne is married to Derek and they are partners in Sidona Group and have two children; one is a trainee solicitor, the other a musician. Anne enjoys the theatre, walking, keeping fit, travel and great food.

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Stephanie Henshaw

Stephanie is a Corporate Audit Partner based in Exeter, delivering assurance and advisory services to a wide range of companies and has particular interest in complex financial disclosures, narrative reporting and corporate governance.

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Stephanie joined Francis Clark in 2008 after 14 years as a partner in a Top 20 firm. She enjoys finding pragmatic solutions to seemingly complicated problems, providing support to the entire firm across a range of clients.

She has overall responsibility for Standards, including audit and financial reporting. In addition to being the audit partner for a wide range of clients, from manufacturing and service companies to not-for-profit entities, she acts as a second partner for many of the firm’s most prestigious clients, including the firm’s largest groups and listed companies.

Stephanie is also the Chair of the ICAEW Financial Reporting Faculty Board, through which she is involved in current and emerging financial reporting issues and a nationally-renowned trainer to the accounting and legal sectors.

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“The smooth organisation, fine food, the well-pitched awards, and the encouraging mix of ages attending all made for a really good event.”

District Judge Martin Davis