Meet the Judges 2019

More judges are added to the panel throughout the run of the competition. If you are a retailer or a member of the trade press, and are interested in joining the panel for Gift of the Year 2019, please contact

Amanda Fergusson

Business Development Consultant

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Amanda has worked in the gift and card industry for 30 years. She has run her own business and held senior roles at Hallmark Cards and The Andrew Brownsword Collection. Latterly she was Sales and Marketing Director at Caroline Gardner, seeing the business through a period of exciting growth. She has served as a non-executive director for a manufacturing business and as a committee member with the Greetings Cards Association.

a business consultant and mentor Amanda is now focusing on helping small and medium sized businesses achieve their potential. She is also serving on a public sector Independent Monitoring Board, and as a committee member of the Giftware Association.

Chris Beards, Mantons Cards

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Chris is a multi-awardwinning retailer and owner of Mantons Cards in the Isle of Man. He is passionate about independent retail, high quality gifts and greeting cards.
Award wins include British Independent Retailer of the Year and the BIRA National Award for charity fundraising and community work.

Chris shared his views on the competition on our blog.

Elias Jahshan, Retail Gazette

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Elias Jahshan is the Editor of Retail Gazette, the UK's fastest-growing online retail newspaper. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, he has called London home since 2016.

Fiona Webb, Haskins

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Fiona has a broad wealth of experience having worked for high street retailers, supermarkets, and now Haskins Garden Centres in a gift buying capacity.

Heidi Schramli, Detail Retail

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Heidi's passion for design is deep rooted and bolstered though an art education, so she carries the torch for creativity.

For over 10 years her shop Detail has been a leading retailer in the Lake District, focussing on the best of British and European design. They are proof that great design doesn't have to be elitist or expensive. Their range of homeware, gift and stationery showcases an exciting mix of craftspeople, small producers and some of the best and well-known names in the gift industry today. Making a cohesive story out of an eclectic mix is a challenge and one that Heidi hopes she has managed to get ‘just right’, but will always be enjoyable work in progress.

Henri Davis, Independent Retail Adviser

Independent Retail Advisor

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As an independent retail advisor to businesses in the cards, gifts, stationery and heritage industries, Henri combines 30 years of retail experience with her knowledge of trends and consumer motivation to analyse markets and identify new opportunities.

Henri have worked at Habitat, Next, WH Smith and the National Trust and she now works with many small and medium-sized businesses, including multi-site retailers, national and international manufacturers and suppliers. She was the first retailer Chairman (now Deputy Chairman) of the Giftware Association.

Judith Harris, Sherriffs Foods

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Judith has worked in the gift industry for the past 20 years, formerly for large garden centre groups and now Sherriffs Foods.
Sherriffs are a rapidly expanding division of a wider European Group, based in the pretty town of Market Harborough. They supply a vast range of high quality ambient foods to farm shops, garden centres, high street retailers and major supermarket chains. Sherriffs work closely with their customers to maximise the sales of private label food items across product categories which include confectionery, bakery and food gifts.

Judith knows what makes a great gift and has been a judge on "Gift of the Year" since 2008.

Judith Mather, National Gallery

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Judith Mather is currently the Director of Buying and Brand Licensing at The National Gallery Company where she is responsible for the sourcing and profitability of all the products, licensing and business partnerships. 

The responsibilities at the National Gallery Company are to head up the buying and merchandise team where she manages and delivers the 3 year merchandise & Brand Licensing strategy to offer and delight visitors to the National Gallery with exciting, unique and quality souvenirs and gifts and extend brand reach and generate profits to support this national institution. 

Lily Henderson, Find Me a Gift

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Lily started at Find Me a Gift in 2013 as an apprentice purchasing assistant, and became the Buyer in 2016. 

In over 4 and a half years at FMAG, she has gained a great deal of knowledge and experience around the gifting sector. Lily works with many different suppliers, with products ranging from personalised gifts, gadgets, homeware, food and drink, occasion specific gifts, and jewellery. She is very passionate about her role and loves finding new interesting products. She strives to bring the best gifts to the FMAG range.

Louisa Stott, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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Louisa has been Head of Retail at Shakespeare Birthplace Trust since July 2016. They have 5 shops - one at each of the Shakespeare family homes, an online shop and print on demand site, and are slowly finding their feet with licensing their fabulous collections. These extremely busy shops are inspired by all things Shakespeare and they hope to provide every visitor to their properties with a high-quality memento of their day.

Before working for the Trust, Louisa worked in other museums and art galleries in the Midlands including Compton Verney, Black Country Living Museum, and Birmingham Museums.

Louise Welsby, Buy From Shropshire

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Louise runs a creative marketing and communication agency with a specific focus on supporting artisan creative and food and drink businesses. They work with producers of all sizes to establish a foothold in retail, whether that be through their branding, packaging, digital marketing, website or pricing.

Buy-From has been working with the Giftware Association for two years now, and collaborated with them at the Spring Fair 2018 to provide a showcase for 11 first-time businesses to the trade show. This collaboration was a huge success and has led to some of our micro businesses gaining worldwide licensee agreements, which has changed their whole business outlook.

Louise's expertise is in branding, marketing and communication and this will be her second year as a judge for the Gift of the Year.

Marianne Shillingford, Independent Retail Expert

Creative Director

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I am a  colour and design expert with over 30 years experience in the interiors industry. I’m looking for exceptional design and quality plus great use of colour and materials.

Natalie Yates, Gifts from Handpicked

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Gifts From Handpicked has just celebrated 10 years of being online and continues to grow year on year. Natalie has won two awards and is very proud of being awarded The Greats Best Online Retailer 2016.

As the company continues to grow, Natalie has just taken on her first apprentice. The gift industry is a wonderful place to work and the staff share this same passion.

From trade shows to different gift events, every week is different. The online industry has changed so much in ten years and Natalie constantly works on keeping up with modern times and ways to sell their lovely gift wares.

Nathaniel Mobbs, The National Gallery

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After graduating in Architecture at the University of Liverpool, Nathaniel joined the buying team at Heal’s in 2001, sourcing gifts and seasonal accessories. From there he went to Paul Smith where he developed an eclectic mix of products for their stores internationally.

He has been working for the National Gallery Company since 2011.

Sara Albright, John Lewis

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Sara has worked at John Lewis since she graduated from Birmingham University in 2001 with a degree in textile design. She started out in lampshades and bases, moving to Living and Dining furniture, followed by the Christmas shop, stationery, gift food, wall decor and currently the gift and home and Candleshop department where she has held the role of buyer for the past four years.

Sue Marks, Progressive Gifts and Home

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Sue Marks is the longest serving trade press Editor in the gift industry. She has been at the helm of Progressive Gifts & Home for nearly two decades, bringing a wealth of experience to the role. She is also a regular contributor to Progressive Greetings, Progressive Housewares and Progressive Preschool magazines.

Previously in consumer journalism, she has been Editor of a diverse range of magazine titles to include Popular Crafts, Simply Crafts and Home Cooking.

In addition, over the years, Sue has been invited to be a keynote speaker on gift trends at many of the leading gift and home shows around the world.

With her in depth knowledge of the gift and home industry, and her close connection to retailers, both independent and multiple, she will be judging this year's Gift of the Year entries with a keen commercial eye.

Tina Goetting, The British Shop

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The British Shop, based in Germany, is designed to offer British products and our range enfold fashion, lifestyle, kitchen, home accessories, gardening and much more. They send out a catalogue to their customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland every six weeks and present a bit of British lifestyle.

Tina has worked for The British Shop for five years now and is responsible for the purchase of non-fashion products. She is an experienced gift retailer with a speciality in recognising the best British products.

Tracey Bearton, Greetings Today

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Coming from a lengthy newspaper journalism background, Tracey entered the world of trade magazines in 2012 as editor of Greeting Today, the largest-circulation trade mag for the greetings industry, which also covers gifts and stationery – all the things good card retailers sell. As a keen card sender herself, with an eye for design honed over many years of dress making, tarting up her Dr Martens with studs and ribbons, and the design and layout of newspapers and magazines, Tracey has thrown herself enthusiastically into the greetings industry.

She has helped judge the National Calendar Awards judge for three years, and in 2016 helped launch the first Greetings Card Awards in the 40-plus-year history of the British Craft Trade Fair, and is continuing to help organise and judge these awards.

Tracey shared her views on Gift of the Year on our blog.