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South West

IoD South West Directors of the Year Announced

24 May 2017

IoD South West Director of the Year Awards

Business leaders from across the city and the region have been recognised at the Institute of Directors 2017 Director of the Year Awards.

David Gilroy, co-founder of legal digital marketing specialists Conscious Solutions has been named South West Director of the Year and Merle Hall, managing director of Bristol-based innovation and product design company Kinneir Dufort took the title of International Director.   Louise Mitchell, CEO of the Bristol Music Trust, that runs the Colston Hall, was awarded Third Sector Director and Simon Brown, founder and managing director  of ForrestBrown, a Bristol-based consultancy specialising in tax credits was named Young Director.

David is co-founder of Bristol-based Conscious Solutions, a leading provider of digital marketing services to law firms.  Recent challenges to the legal sector have caused firms to look for ways to modernise, reach clients and generate leads without compromising on professionalism and compliance.   The company has experienced consistent growth for the last 13 years and David was praised by the judges for his innovative approach to business and commitment to his staff.

Kinneir Dufort specialises in Innovation and Product Design in the consumer, industrial and medical sectors and has created products including the world's first portable skin cancer treatment device, Coca Cola’s most sustainable water bottle ever and a ‘locating beacon system’ that helps save lives in the most extreme environments.  Merle, with colleagues, undertook a second management buyout of the business less than a year ago and now leads business in eight international markets. Judges commented particularly on the firm’s commitment to personal and professional development.

Louise Mitchell, CEO of Bristol Music Trust since it was formed in 2011, was praised as an experienced leader with a strong and clear vision for the Colston Hall venue as well as the wider cultural economy in the city.   The Colston Hall is currently two thirds of the way towards raising £45m of funds to transform it and create a world class performance venue and deliverer of educational projects – one of the most ambitious arts redevelopment projects in the UK.

From a standing start in 2013, Simon Brown has established a fast-growing tax consultancy specialising in R&D tax credits. Today it employs almost 50 people and last year ForrestBrown delivered a cash boost of over £50m to innovative businesses.  2016 was Simon’s most successful year to date with the business more than doubling in size and the judges commented on its role in fuelling further business innovation and development across the SW region and beyond.

One finalist’s entry in particular stood out for the excellent work undertaken for  support of its people and the local community.  Consequently the judges agreed to make an additional Corporate Responsibility Award to Andrew Scott of the Ascot Group in Weston  Super Mare.  The Ascot Group  has three independent trading businesses: Insight Data Ltd, , Purplex Marketing Ltd,  and Business Leader Ltd, a B2B media, publishing and events company. Andrew speaks regularly at conferences and events, as well as local schools and colleges to students about aspirations and skills, and provides graduate and apprenticeship training programmes.

An impressive standard of entries in the Third Sector category resulted in a Highly Commended certificate being awarded to Julie Finch, CEO of The Cheltenham Trust, which was established n 2014 to manage and develop £300m of key leisure, cultural and heritage attractions including The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum and The Prince of Wales Stadium.

Alastair Shanks, of BMT Defence Services in Bath and his former colleague, Dan Oakley, were highest scorers and joint winners in the Director Development Award category, recognising the highest scoring candidates from the SW region who have taken the IoD Certificate in Company Direction exam in the last 12 months.

The South West’s IoD Director Awards seek to highlight and celebrate outstanding business people across the region, bringing the enterprise community together and focusing UK-wide attention on South West success.

IoD South West chairman Nick Sturge said: “Once again we had an extremely high standard of entries demonstrating the breadth and depth of talent, enterprise and leadership across the region.   What the judges were looking for in particular was clear leadership as well as a commitment to people and values , both their own and those of the organisation they are leading.

"Some of the categories were very close so to have been shortlisted or Highly Commended is a real achievement and we congratulate all our finalists."

The ceremony took place at Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, with IoD Director general Stephen Martin as guest speaker on his first visit to the South West since his appointment at the beginning of the year. Money raised was donated to Young Enterprise.

This year's winners will now  go forward in the Autumn for a chance to be a national award winner, judged against all the other regional finalists.

Contact IoD South West

For more information, please contact

0117 370 7785

South West
Branch and staff contacts can be found on the main Contacts tab

IoD South West
The Innovation Centre
Bristol and Bath
Science Park
Emersons Green
BS16 7FR

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