Meet the judges

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 2020, please contact

Therese Oertenblad - Small Business Collective

Therese Oertenblad

Small Business Collective

Therese has a background in sales and has worked in the home and gift industry for over 12 years selling to both independent retailers and nationals on the high street as an introvert. 

She is passionate about the retail industry and helping product-based business owners make more sales, increase their profit and develop a strategy for growing their businesses with confidence. 

Therese works with businesses both 1:1, runs regular webinars and courses as well as being the host of a small business podcast called Let’s Talk Shop.



Podcast: Let’s Talk Shop

Abigail Boston - Leo Paper Products Limited

Abigail Boston

Leo Paper Products Limited

Abi has nearly a decade worth of experience in the print industry; working within production/design/editorial in publishing, a buyer in print management, and now as a print supplier.

Having been a print buyer for the gift, packaging, publishing and trade markets she has a wealth of experience in multiple sectors of the industry. Her role as Business Development Manager at Leo Paper Products Ltd has enhanced her knowledge within all global markets as she works closely with clients. She regularly attends fairs in the UK and Europe within the gift, book, game and other sectors.


Alice Cripps - Posh Totty Designs
Beauty, Bath & Spa | Ethical Gift | Novelty | Under £15

Alice Cripps

Posh Totty Designs

Alice has been designing and making meaningful jewellery and keepsakes since 2004. She now has two stores in Brighton and London plus six concessions in department stores. She runs the biggest jewellery workshop (100% female) in the South, handmaking every unique piece.

Posh Totty has continued to be a top seller on Notonthehighstreet since 2007 and they sell on many global marketplaces, still retaining theirhandmade roots. Alice is a proud mum who loves what she does and is happiest behind the counter or designing new collections.

In this competition, Alice is looking for a well-made commercial product with heart and meaning.

Amanda Adams - Associated Independent Stores
Beauty, Bath & Spa | Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | Pet Gift | Tech & Gadgets

Amanda Adams

Associated Independent Stores

Amanda has worked as a Buyer within the independent sector for 20 years, specailising in Womenswear, Intimate Apparel and Fashion Accessories.

In her current role at AIS she buys accessories on behalf of 10 independent department stores, and she also selects brands to exhibit at the the INDX Accessories trade shows which take place twice a year.

Amy Hall - Hall & Co
Fashion Jewellery | Home Fragrance | Pet Gift | Stationery

Amy Hall

Hall & Co

Amy has run Hall & Co Womensear boutique for 13 years with her mother Judy. They have always stocked a number of carefully selected gifts to accompany their Womenswear Collections. Beautiful accessories, candles and home fragrances are a major part of their offering. Always on the hunt for new and exciting products as well as staying loyal to their long standing brands has created strong relationships both with customers and suppliers.

In this competition, Amy is looking for something that stands out as well thought out and beautifully presented. Environmental considerations and sustainability are essential for her.

Anne Bannell - Jacks on Trinity
Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | Contemporary Gift | Food & Drink | Home and Garden

Anne Bannell

Jacks on Trinity

Anne's husband and business partner opened their first shop in Cambridge back in 1985, so she has 34 years of gift retailing experience.

Moving with the changing times, high street trends and recognising the need to remain on the ever-changing high street, Anne's business has gone through several mutations from hand-knits, designer gifts and now two successful shops concentrating on the visitor and tourist market. They specialise in Cambridge gifts and apparel along with Great British icons such as Harry Potter, Paddington and Winnie the Pooh.

Celine Dibert - Press Loft
Ethical Gift | Home and Garden | International | Kitchen & Dining | Pet Gift

Celine Dibert

Press Loft

International Marketing Manager

Charlotte Biggs - Card & Gift Network
Cards & Wrap | Design & Craft | Home and Garden | Novelty

Charlotte Biggs

Card & Gift Network

Charlotte has been helping greetings card and giftware businesses promote their products online for the last 10 years through her website, Card & Gift Network. As a mentor and educator Charlotte shows companies how they can utilise digital marketing and eCommerce to reach new audiences, promote their products and grow their business. Before moving to the online world, Charlotte worked directly in the industry as a Product Manager for an independent card & gift publisher.

This year, Charlotte is looking for original, high-quality giftware that can inspire buyers and deliver an exciting, memorable moment to the gift's recipient.

Charlotte Cowell - Gifts and Greetings Review
Cards & Wrap | Ethical Gift | Home and Garden | Stationery

Charlotte Cowell

Gifts and Greetings Review

Oxford University graduate, Charlotte Cowell, has edited magazines in the gift and home trade press for over 15 years and now looks after leading industry titles that include Giftware Review, Garden Centre Buyer and her own online publication,

Charlotte is very interested in environmental issues and enjoys supporting independent businesses with sustainable products and authentic crafts from around the world. She is PR and social media manager for the British Craft Trade Fair and has helped many small companies launch their businesses to the retail trade. Her motto is: Together we are stronger!

Chris Beards - Mantons Cards
Cards & Wrap | Design & Craft | Festive & Occasions | Stationery

Chris Beards

Mantons Cards

Chris runs Mantons Cards with a belief that a business should try to do more than just make a profit, but also benefit its team members, the local community and the industry it trades in.

Mantons Cards have won 18 major awards including British Independent Retailer of the Year.

Elizabeth Attenborough - Magpie's Nest
Beauty, Bath & Spa | Cards & Wrap | Home Fragrance | Tech & Gadgets

Elizabeth Attenborough

Magpie's Nest

Liz is the director of Magpies Nest and created the business based in Stalybridge. Her background is sales, events and advertising and she loves creating campaigns and promotions.

Liz bring sales and marketing experience to the judging panel and has a keen eye when it comes to buying stock.

Heidi Schramli - Detail Retail
Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | Ethical Gift | Pet Gift | Stationery

Heidi Schramli

Detail Retail

Detail Retail has been a pioneering retailer of quality and design in the Lake District for over 11 years. Their style is contemporary with a range covering gifts, stationery, homeware, jewellery, childrens' gift and baby. Heidi prides herself on customer service and has gained an excellent reputation shown by repeat custom and a destination shop.

In the last 5 years they have been focussing on British companies and in particular small British producers. More recently they have made inroads to reduce their waste and convince their suppliers to consider making changes to their practices as well.

Helen Crawford - The Old School Beauly
Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Contemporary Gift | Ethical Gift | Fashion Accessories

Helen Crawford

The Old School Beauly

Formerly an international lawyer with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and used to working in post conflict countries, Helen settled back in the Highlands of Scotland with a vision for an ethical, sustainable and design-led lifestyle store. She and her husband created The Old School Beauly, promptly winning the prestigious Great's Best Independent Retailer in Scotland. Helen has since then judged Best Scottish Product at the Scottish Trade Show.

In Spring 2020 Helen and her shop will appear in the BBC's "Money for Nothing" programme about upcycling and sustainable products. Helen has a keen eye for design and sustainability through the supply chain. She is quick to identify emerging new product and introduce it into her award-winning retail store and on the Old School's popular website.

Henri Davis - Independent Retail Adviser
Cards & Wrap | Ethical Gift | Stationery | Under £15

Henri Davis

Independent Retail Adviser

With 35 years in retail in new product development and buying roles, Henri has worked with the likes of Habitat, Next, WH Smith and the National Trust.

Over the last 16 years she has worked as an Independent Retail Advisor - specifically in the cards, gifts, stationery and heritage industries - where she has used her knowledge and experience to help small and medium-sized businesses, including retailers, national and international manufacturers and suppliers to grow their businesses.

She is currently Deputy Chairman of the Giftware Association

Judith Harris - Sherriffs Foods
Branded Gift | Festive & Occasions | Food & Drink | Under £15

Judith Harris

Sherriffs Foods

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
Beauty, Bath & Spa | Branded Gift | Novelty | Pet Gift

Judith Mather

National Gallery

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.

Karen Ebers - Something Special
Cards & Wrap | Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Home Fragrance | Under £15

Karen Ebers

Something Special

Karen has spent the past 25 years working at Something Special, Oxted and then five years later, Edenbridge. Initially she was employed as part of the set-up team, with product selection being her particular area of responsibility. In 2012, Karen became co-owner and then in 2015 she became the sole owner.

Karen been on this judging panel twice before as well as that of The Henries on a number of occasions. She has regularly contributed to articles in the trade press and has been invited to a number of retailers' seminars giving feedback and advice to suppliers.

Louisa Stott - The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Branded Gift | Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | Stationery

Louisa Stott

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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.

Louisa has worked in the museum and heritage gift industry for over 15 years and takes great pride in generating essential revenue for charitable causes by selecting exciting, innovative and desirable products for visitors to take home.

Louise Prydderch - Forget Me Not & Lulu Loves
Cards & Wrap | Festive & Occasions | International | Tech & Gadgets

Louise Prydderch

Forget Me Not & Lulu Loves

For the past 20 years Louise has been at the helm of Forget Me Not; it has gone from strength to strength with two refits & a total rebranding in 2011.

In 2017 she established a gorgeous new concept store, Lulu Loves Home. She and her team worked hard on the branding and curating the instore experience. This year Lulu Loves has been chosen as one of the 2019 Small Business 100.

Both store are Greats winners, and Forget Me Not has also been a twice Retas winner.

Martin de la Fuente - Ocado
Branded Gift | Home and Garden | International | Kitchen & Dining

Martin de la Fuente


Martin has been with Ocado for 6 years, having previously worked with Tesco, Holland & Barrett, BHS and Aunt Bessie's! A high profile retail industry professional with over 40 years buying, marketing, quality management and retail experience. His product knowledge ranges across grocery, electricals, homewares, kitchenware, dining, seasonal, DIY, toys, gifts, newsagent and clothing. Martin has a widely regarded and enviable reputation in the Housewares Industry.

Michael Apter - Paper Tiger
Cards & Wrap | Festive & Occasions | Food & Drink | Stationery

Michael Apter

Paper Tiger

Michael has over 20 years experience running Edinburgh independent card, stationery and gift shop Paper Tiger, with a track record of successful partnerships with classic brands, discovering and nurturing new illustrators, designers and makers and developing its own-brand giftware success stories.

Natalie Yates - Gifts from Handpicked
Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Festive & Occasions | Stationery | Under £15

Natalie Yates

Gifts from Handpicked

Gifts From Handpicked was launched in 2008 , a complete change of career for Natalie who was an area Catering Manager for 12 years until being made redundant in 2007.

Gifts From Handpicked has grown year on year due to the commitment and attention to detail from Natalie and her team. Winning two awards for Best Online Retailer and highly recommended several times, Gifts From Handpicked is well known within the industry.

With a passion for gifts, e-commerce and customer services Natalie can talk for hours on this small Business idea that became an internet success. Having previously judged Gift Of The Year it is a great opportunity to judge and reward success to the fantastic new products we see being launched year on year. Over the last 12 years the industry has grown and it is exciting to see new designs.

Nathaniel Mobbs - The National Gallery
Branded Gift | Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | International | Novelty

Nathaniel Mobbs

The National Gallery

Nathaniel has worked in retail since completing a degree in Architecture at the University of Liverpool.

Starting his buying career at Heal’s sourcing seasonal home accessories, he then joined British fashion institution Paul Smith, where he developed and bought an eclectic mix of merchandise for the company’s international stores. Having joined the National Gallery in 2011, Nathaniel has helped to grow retail revenues by refreshing and modernising the range of gifts and souvenirs on offer. He now manages the buying team.

Nicola Snell - Press Loft
Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | Ethical Gift | Home and Garden | Kitchen & Dining

Nicola Snell

Press Loft

Managing Director

Paul & Rachel Roberts - Mooch
Cards & Wrap | Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Fashion Accessories | Tech & Gadgets

Paul & Rachel Roberts


Husband and wife team Paul & Rachel Roberts opened their first shop in May 2018. Since then they have opened three more shops in Olney, Towcester and two in Northampton. They're retail veterans, having worked in shops and retail businesses since they were teenagers. This year MOOCH won awards at the Greats and the RETAS.

They hold the same high standards for a Gift of the Year entry that they do for anything they carry in their shops - something that makes their customers say "wow I've never seen anything like that before", or something that brings to mind somebody who would love the product.

Peter Allinson - Whirligig Toys
Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Design & Craft | Festive & Occasions | Under £15

Peter Allinson

Whirligig Toys

Peter is the founder of Whirligig Toys Limited, an independent chain of children's gift shops specialising in 'things to make and do'. Whirligig Toys focuses on children's gifts that really engage children - they look for toys and games that involve the child in building, designing, making or discovering. This might be a construction kit with an excited outcome, a game that the whole family can join in with or something that takes them on a new journey of discovery. They hate toys that are taken out of the box and then thrown away or toys that just don't make the effort to give the children a great experience.

A Gift of the Year winner should be something that a present buyer can pick up and know that the person they are buying for is going to have a great time with. For a children's toy/gift, it should be something that is going to last a while, something that other members of the family will enjoy interacting with and something that makes the child think abit, and certainly laugh.

Rachael Barnes - Dragonfly Cards & Gifts
Cards & Wrap | Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Fashion Accessories | Under £15

Rachael Barnes

Dragonfly Cards & Gifts

Rachael is the owner of Dragonfly Cards & Gifts, a multi-award winning independent shop in the picturesque market town of Knaresborough.

Trading for nearly 14 years, they have been finalists in the Greats and the Retas a total of 10 times - taking home the title of Best Independent Card Retailer in the North of England in 2013 and Best Retailer Initiative in 2016 for their10th anniversary campaign.

Rachael Griffiths - Hannah Zakari
Design & Craft | Fashion Accessories | Tech & Gadgets | Under £15

Rachael Griffiths

Hannah Zakari

Rachael Griffiths owns Hannah Zakari, founded in 2004, it is an independent boutique located in Edinburgh specialising in items which are designed or handmade​ by indie designers.

Hannah Zakari has represented work from over 200 independent designers and artists from the UK​ and abroad and has been featured in many magazines and newspapers including Vogue, Grazia, The Guardian, Your Cat and Tatler.

Rachel King - Greetings Today
Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Design & Craft | Fashion Accessories | Festive & Occasions | Stationery

Rachel King

Greetings Today

Rachel is the editor of Greetings Today, the industry's leading media provider for the Greetings card, Gift Wrap & Bag, Calendars and stationery industry. Rachel has worked in publishing for over a decade and has written for a number of craft, home & lifestyle and entertainment titles across the globe.

In this competition, Rachel is looking for something that is well made, thoughtful and will give the recipient a smile.

Rita Rooney - Museum of London
Branded Gift | Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Design & Craft | Novelty

Rita Rooney

Museum of London

An experienced buyer and merchandiser who has worked in the high street as well as a number of cultural institutions. Through my extensive experience I feel that I have developed that elusive eye for a good seller.

Sally Norton - Gifts Today
Contemporary Gift | Fashion Accessories | Home Fragrance | Novelty

Sally Norton

Gifts Today

Sally has edited Gifts Today, the leading B2B publication for the gifts industry, for three years. She also edits The Daily News, the official paper for the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate in July. She has written for dozens of magazines during her career, ranging from Marie Claire to Ideal Home, Woman's Own to More.

Sally has also written books for children and parents, published by Penguin and Michael O Mara. One of her books was in the Sunday Times bestseller lists for 16 weeks.

Sanchia Softley - Not on the High Street
Children's, Educational and Pre-School | Contemporary Gift | Design & Craft | Food & Drink | Kitchen & Dining

Sanchia Softley

Not on the High Street

Having worked in retail buying and brand sourcing for over 10 years, Sanchia has been part of some high profile retail businesses, from department stores to boutiques and online. She has covered a wide range of categories including Fashion, however gifting is where her focus is today.

Under the 'gifting umbrella', Sanchia has launched two Christmas departments, grown a Baby & Children's area, re-developed a Cards & Stationery department and introduced a comprehensive confectionery offer supported by pop-ups and events. In her current role she sources emerging talent from all areas of the industry.

Sara Allbright - John Lewis
Branded Gift | Contemporary Gift | Home Fragrance | Pet Gift

Sara Allbright

John Lewis

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.

Sarah Strangeway - Tourvest Retail
Beauty, Bath & Spa | Contemporary Gift | Fashion Accessories | Food & Drink

Sarah Strangeway

Tourvest Retail

Sarah has over 25 years multi category buying experience, working with premium luxury fashion, lifestyle and accessory brands. She has over 10 years product development and product innovation and now head up a team, managing and developing retail propositions. This includes buy-on-board boutique and food and beverage menus for both premium and low cost airlines. A key driver to the role is working with leading brands and strategic partners to create unique ranges and creative propositions to enhance the customer journey .

Shagufta Ahmed - Pestochampion
Beauty, Bath & Spa | Commemorative, Collectable and Charitable | Food & Drink | Kitchen & Dining

Shagufta Ahmed


Steph Briggs - La Di Da Interiors
Home and Garden | International | Pet Gift | Under £15

Steph Briggs

La Di Da Interiors

Steph is an interior designer and owner of La Di Da Interiors, Luxuries and Gifts. It is an award-winning independent bricks and mortar and online shop packed full of unusual and quirky items with a country style.

She is looking for something new, different, striking and stylish, perhaps with a little humour and a good price point.

Sue Marks - Progressive Gifts and Home
Contemporary Gift | Fashion Accessories | Home Fragrance | International

Sue Marks

Progressive Gifts and Home

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.

Tabi Marsh - Papilio at Heritage
Cards & Wrap | Food & Drink | Home and Garden | International | Tech & Gadgets

Tabi Marsh

Papilio at Heritage

Tabi has been co-owner of Papilio at Heritage, a gift and coffee shop just north of Bristol, for 6 years. She has transformed it it from a rather museum like-business to a thriving business, particularly known for its range of Greetings Cards and involvement in the local community. Papilio was a winner in the 2019 Greats.

Tina Goetting - The British Shop
Design & Craft | International | Kitchen & Dining

Tina Goetting

The British Shop

The British Shop is a mail order company specialised on British products of high quality selling in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Its main product fields are fashion, gardening, kitchen, home, food and books. Working as a purchase manager for home accessoires and gifts in the family company for many years is full of different days but always with a lot of heart and pleasure.

Seeing the catalogue developing from the very first step until it is ready to be sent out to our customers means speaking to a lot of people and chosing the right products in the gift sector. I'm always in the search of new or traditional products, especially in the area of gifts. Be it at the big fairs in the UK or shopping on the high street. The gift area is full of opportunities to make people happy.

Tracey Burgoyne - New Brewery Arts
Cards & Wrap | Design & Craft | Festive & Occasions | Tech & Gadgets

Tracey Burgoyne

New Brewery Arts

Tracey joined New Brewery Arts after completing her degree in History of Design in 1995. She has had sole responsibility for buying for 24 years, doubling the Craft Shop turnover for the first few years and more recently keeping on an even keel in a turbulent market.

The ideal product for Tracey would be a well made piece of contemporary craft whose appearance makes a purchaser fall in love and have to buy.