Our judges are some of the most respected figures in the property sector. 2021's panel features industry experts comprising senior executives, media and marketing professionals and personalities from across the sector.
Alec Watt is C.E.O. of multi-international award-winning design collective, Accouter Group of Companies (AGC). Having previously worked at M.D. level at FTSE 100 companies in Estate Agency, Financial Services and Retail Banking, Alec has extensive experience within the Real Estate industry. Recognised as one of London’s fastest-growing and dynamic group of interior design studios, AGC supports a group of companies, each of which have their own identity, people, and autonomy to be great stand-alone businesses in their own right
André is an established public relations professional with over 16 years’ experience representing developers, housebuilders, estate agents and other property related businesses. Following a successful career working for some of London’s most reputable PR agencies, he launched Viking PR in 2019 to offer bespoke PR solutions as a consultant. Find out more via www.vikingpr.co.uk
Camilla Dell is Managing Partner and founder of Black Brick Property Solutions LLP and has worked in the London property market since 2002. She is highly experienced in meeting the needs of demanding domestic and international property buyers. Following positions at two of London’s most prominent estate agencies, Foxtons and Knight Frank, Camilla set up Black Brick in January 2007. Camilla has since grown the business to become London’s largest independent buying consultancy, having successfully sourced in excess of £1 billion of residential property for private clients. Camilla’s energy, dedication to her clients and negotiation skills have won her huge loyalty amongst some of the world’s most successful business figures. She is a regular press commentator and speaker at high profile events.
Ciara has been a PR and communications professional for over 20 years, working overseas at the EU, UN and BBC for 15 years, as well as in the UK for charities and development organisations. She has been Head of Media and Communications at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for over 5 years, during which time she has helped raise the profile of the scientific contribution that Kew makes, as well as spearheading a growth in media coverage across a wide range of titles to reach new audiences and tell new stories from the world of gardening and horticulture.
Derek has been head of PR at Barratt Developments for the past 6 years where he works on the positive reputation of the country’s largest housebuilder. He manages a network of 7 regional PR agencies who promote the 27 local divisions of the business. He is a board member of IBP, the membership body of journalists and comms professionals for the built environment. Before joining Barratt, Derek worked in London PR agencies for 20 years, managing the reputation of clients large and small, many of which were property and construction organisations.
A journalist for more than a quarter of a century, Dominic Connolly was for many years Property and Gardens Editor of The Mail on Sunday. He also specialises in Arts, Travel, Motoring and Money journalism, and over the years has contributed to the Telegraph, Evening Standard and Metro. He is currently Commissioning Editor at Saga Magazine.
An RICS Fellow, Ed Mead has over 40 years’ experience in the property market. He is a well-known commentator and is a regular columnist in The Sunday Times. He also writes as The Agent Provocateur in The Telegraph and Trade Press and has a regular slot on Talk Radio. Holding the position of Executive Director at Douglas & Gordon until 2016, he went on to found National viewings and tech platform Viewber, and remains connected to all areas of the industry.
Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener and CEO of Great Dixter House and Garden, came to Great Dixter in 1993 as Head Gardener to Christopher Lloyd after studying at Wye College. Since 2006, when Christopher Lloyd died, Fergus has pushed the boundaries of the Dixter gardens ever further, experimenting with plant associations, trialling plants and at the same time training young gardeners, holding study days on topics particular to Dixter, e.g. meadows, exotic garden and succession and given lectures to horticulturists and amateur gardeners around the world.
Gráinne Gilmore is Head of Research at Zoopla, where she and her team are responsible for producing property analysis and insights on aspects of the sales. Prior to joining Zoopla in 2020, Gráinne was Head of UK Residential Research at Knight Frank for eight years, and before this she was a business and finance journalist at The Times.
Experienced Head Of Corporate Communications with a demonstrated track record of working in the real estate and airline industries. Skilled in Crisis Communications, Event Management, Media Relations, Corporate Communications, and Marketing. Member of the Chartered Institute of PR and sits on the Communications Committee for the British Property Federation (BPF).
Hayleigh O’Farrell is head of brand and communications at Ballymore – a privately owned developer with an award-winning portfolio of some of Europe's largest and most transformative developments. Having helped establish the brand in the UK – as a business renowned for delivering places with soul – Hayleigh now operates out of Dublin where, in addition to overseeing corporate PR strategy in multiple markets, she is also building awareness of a portfolio of new Irish neighbourhoods.
Helen specialises in the Fin-Prop-Tech space and is a mentor on the 2021 Reach UK Scaleup program. As co-founder and CCO of the start-up COHO, she and the team are reshaping how shared homes are managed and discovered. The comprehensive platform will form an ecosystem that is built with great customer experience at the heart. Her favourite line from someone wiser than her is “all news is made up news – someone’s just got to make the story right”.
Isobel Thomson is CEO of safeagent (formerly NALS), the leading letting agent accreditation scheme for lettings & management agents operating in the private rented sector (PRS). For the last 19 years at safeagent, Isobel has worked to protect the consumer, campaigning for a safer, fairer PRS for all.
Jeremy Gates is the former Property Editor of the Daily Express and a journalist with the Press Association. He has decades of experience in writing about the property industry, and is a holder of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Property Press Awards.
Jeremy is a fellow of the RICS, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). He was residential chair of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for more than five years and its national housing spokesperson for 19 years. Jeremy is principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, a North London firm of independent chartered surveyors, new homes development consultants, and sales and lettings agents, established in 1984. For the past five years, Jeremy has acted as a judge on the Negotiator ‘Estate Agent of the Year’ and the Property Press Awards. He has been a frequent commentator on property matters on TV, radio and in the press since the early 1990s.
Julian Walker is a director at Spot Blue International Property. Specialising in investment and purchase of land, residential and commercial property in Turkey for English-speaking non-residents, Spot Blue was winner in the Real Estate Agency Website (Turkey) category of the International Property Awards in 2015. The company markets property in a number of countries via its network of websites and is a member of a range of industry associations including Turkish British Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TBCCI), and National Association of Estate Agents (incorporating FOPDAC) (NAEA).
Property expert, writer & broadcaster Kunle Barker began his construction career whilst studying for a MA at the University of Leeds. In 2004, Kunle set up Illustrious Homes, an award winning Construction and Design Management Company, specialising in delivering high profile projects. Kunle has delivered over a thousand residential refurbishments, education and sports centre refits, and countless high-end private renovations. Kunle & Illustrious Homes have won many awards including ‘2018 Property Expert of the year’ and ‘Design & Build company of the year’.
A former IPR Young Communicator of The Year and PRCA judge, Laura has 25 years of agency experience, across property, tourism and hospitality. Laura works with a portfolio of clients including Countryside, Ballymore, Six Senses, Expedia and Belmond. Her key remit sees her crafting communications across both placemaking and product whilst advising on topics including sustainability, d,e&I, digital strategy and helping senior leaders communicate with empathy and authority.
With over 25 years’ experience in the property industry, Liana has worked in both corporate and boutique agencies. She recently launched her own business Liana Loporto Property powered by eXp. She holds the post of President for Propertymark NAEA and is passionate about professionalising agents’ role and changing the perception from consumers. She started her career at the largest real estate company in her native Malta, before relocating to England to learn the unique London market with one of the leading corporate agencies. What was intended to be a sabbatical turned into a permanent stay, with over a decade working as Sales and Operational Director at an independent agency in North West London.
Liz Banks is responsible for RICS' global Brand & Communications directorate, focusing on professionalism, sustainability, diversity and inspiring the next generation, and building back better from COVID-19. She leads a team of strategic communications specialists, copywriters, content creators and multimedia designers, brand advisors, editors and media relations professionals. RICS has a proud 153-year heritage and currently supports over 134,000 candidates and qualified professionals in 65 countries around the world.
Louisa Fletcher is an accomplished mortgage and property expert with over twenty years' professional experience in the industry, as well as being a journalist, author and broadcaster. Buying her first house at 19, Louisa caught the property bug and went on to purchase, renovate and sell numerous properties throughout her twenties, always succeeding in making a profit. In parallel she developed her professional career in the property sector by launching, running and successfully exiting two proptech start-ups which were influential in changing the way property in this country is bought and sold. Louisa has consulted at board level to some of the largest estate agents, new home builders, proptechs, fintechs and mortgage brokers in the UK for over a decade, as well as advising celebrities, Royal Families and high net worth individuals on their property assets. Louisa often appears on TV and radio as a consumer champion and commentator on mortgages, homes and the UK property market, and is resident Property Expert for Express.co.uk. Her book, Property Uncovered, was published in 2014 to critical acclaim and provides expert advice for consumers on buying, selling, renting, letting, mortgages, adding value to properties, neighbour disputes, couples' rights around property and moving home.
Marion Ellis works with surveyors who love the work they do but feel overwhelmed with all the business skills they need to master. Whether that’s getting visible and selling themselves, engaging with customers, charging a decent fee or juggling work and life, the learning never stops. A Fellow member of the RICS and qualified CCXP, Marion has a strong background in defect and valuation claims and is passionate about empowering people. At Love Surveying she provides the support, coaching and networking surveyors need to confidently handle the challenges, and navigate the business journey that’s right for them.
Marion Hardman runs boutique property PR consultancy Hardman Communications. With over 20 years' experience at director level, Marion leads on major campaigns and advises a diverse range of projects, from complex regeneration schemes to high-end restorations. A former Evening Standard journalist, her clients include national estate agents, developers, and specialist property companies. She also works with Country Life magazine and has handled award-winning royal and heritage campaigns, including The Prince of Wales and The Princess Royal as guest editors. Marion served as a board member at the homelessness charity Broadway (now St Mungo's).
Mark is the CEO of Miles & Barr Group, East Kent’s leading independent property group with 12 estate agency branches, a large lettings and property management business, a commercial sales & lettings division, and a financial services arm. Mark continues to steer the business forward to reinforce its position as the region’s leading property company. During Miles & Barr’s 21-year story, the company has won a number of awards including Best Medium Estate Agency (twice) and Kent County Business of the Year. www.milesandbarr.co.uk
Mark is an Executive Director – Chairman of UK Residential for CBRE, with a specific focus on the prime Central London market. After 38 years in property, Mark is regarded as a leading figure in London residential, with a wealth of experience and contacts. He works closely with the residential funding and development teams to create a truly integrated residential property service. In 2013, he became a Fellow of the RICS and is the immediate past Chairman of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Property and Construction Committee. Mark also sits on the Urban Land Institute European Residential Committee, was previously on the British Property Federation Residential Committee, is a member of the Reading Real Estate Foundation Fundraising Committee and is very focused around promoting diversity and inclusion in the property industry.
Melanie joined the British Property Federation in 2015, following nine years as Director General of the Food and Drink Federation. Melanie began her working life as a Police Constable in the Metropolitan Police Service. She joined HM Customs in 1988 and subsequently held senior roles in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Office of the Rail Regulator and the Cabinet Office. Her role is to champion UK real estate and to promote a sustainable partnership between governments and the sector to deliver a high-quality built environment.
Melissa is a seasoned comms professional and leads the inhouse PR & Communications team at Zoopla. She is responsible for its external media strategy for trade, corporate and consumer audiences and ensuring its comms activity aligns with the company’s wider sales and marketing objectives. Prior to joining Zoopla, Melissa spent five years at Edelman in the Corporate Reputation team, where she predominantly focused on Real Estate sector clients and led the residential proposition.
Michael Day, MBA FRICS FNAEA FARLA, is a well-known figure with 45 years in the property industry (he says he started when he was three!). He is a Fellow of RICS, NAEA and ARLA and holds an MBA from Reading University. Michael formed the multi award winning Integra Property Services in 2003 and provides a range of business services to the property industry. He is also a Director at teclet. Michael has over 850 property industry clients and is an experienced judge at many industry awards and a regular contributor to the trade media.
Nathan is CEO of Propertymark, the UK's foremost professional and regulatory membership body for sales, letting and commercial agents, with over 12000 offices and 18000 professional members. A highly experienced industry practitioner with over 27 years’ operating within a professional multi practice estate agency practice environment, Nathan has considerable insight into the working practices of the property industry and consumer journeys. Nathan works with proptech start-ups through the Land Registry backed Geovation hub and NAR Reach UK to introduce modern technological solutions to the home buying and selling process.
Nick Leeming was the joint founder of Propertyfinder, the UK’s first national property portal, which he helped to build into one of the country’s best known sites. Subsequently acquired by News International the business was eventually sold to Zoopla in 2009 where Nick became Major Accounts Director. Recognised with the 2008 Estate Agency award for Achievement Nick left Zoopla in 2012 to build a portfolio of board level appointments which have included non-executive directorships at Spark Energy and Belvoir Lettings PLC. Nick is currently Chairman of Jackson-Stops and Bamboo Auctions.
Nigel Lewis is a property writer and editor with a 23-year track record who has worked on a number of publications including the Daily Mail, Channel 4's A Place in the Sun and Location, Location, Location magazines.
Peter Bill is co-author of Broken Homes: Britain’s Housing Crisis; Faults Factoids and Fixes, published in October 2020, which lays bare the politics, planning and development of new homes. Peter is a surveyor-turned-journalist who edited Building magazine for six years in the nineties, before editing Estates Gazette for 11 years, until 2009. He wrote a weekly column for the City pages of the Evening Standard for seven years until 2015. Peter now writes for Property Week. In 2013 he authored Planet Property, a guide to the £400 billion UK commercial real estate market.
With a background in the property industry, Peter Knight is a well-known author and highly respected leadership coach, who runs a number of businesses. Many of the best estate agency owners and senior directors, along with leading suppliers regularly meet with Peter and his roster of world class business thinkers to deliver "four-i" (Information, Insight, Ideas, Inspiration). He also created the biggest event in estate agency, the EA Masters, and with Rightmove, the national Best Estate Agent Guide & Awards. Peter co-founded Agents Giving charity and is also an ambassador for Velindre Cancer Research.
Peter Wetherell (FRICS) is the Founder and Chairman of Wetherell, the leading specialist residential Mayfair estate agents. Peter is responsible for overseeing the sales, rentals and development departments and celebrates over 40 years in business this year.
Richard Blanco is London Representative for the National Landlords Association. He owns and manages properties across six London boroughs and organises and speaks at property events across the capital. Richard regularly appears on USA TV show House Hunters International, broadcast in the UK on HGTV. He also produces and presents Inside Property on Share Radio, the NLA podcast and is a regular press reviewer on Talk Radio. He writes for a number of publications and comments on housing matters in print and broadcast media.
Robert qualified as Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors whilst at Matthews & Goodman, before moving to Whitbread as Strategic Development Manager of Whitbread hotels. In 2004 he joined Travelodge, developing and implementing a growth strategy for London which took the hotel group from 11 hotels to over 70 during his 12-year tenure. Robert then joined a low-profile family-owned group as Property Director of a c£500m freehold property portfolio, which included hotels, serviced offices, farms, offices, residential and more. In addition to providing strategic advice to hotel and serviced apartment investors and operators, his current principle role is as Property Director at Techspace, a serviced office group providing space for scaling tech companies in London, Berlin and soon to be Paris.
Sally Walmsley is the editor of Property magazine and digital editor for the National Residential Landlords Association, (NRLA). She has a background in journalism, writing for national and regional newspapers and magazines and held a number of newsdesk positions before taking over as editor of Residential Property Investor magazine. She became the editor of ‘Property’ two years ago, when it was established through the merger of the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association to create the NRLA. The magazine showcases diverse, unique and inspirational landlord stories alongside campaigns, research and legislation updates, practical advice and expert insight and analysis.
Sebastian O’Kelly is the Director of Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, an editorial-advice website for leaseholders which he co-founded with Melissa Briggs in 2012. It campaigns to change law and judicial procedures which discriminate against ordinary leasehold homeowners. Sebastian O'Kelly has been named and praised in the House of Commons for his work on behalf of leaseholders.
Stacey Stothard is Skipton Building Society’s award winning Head of Corporate Communications & Sustainability. A member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), she has spent the past ten years working in financial services. Stacey is currently studying a Master’s degree at Loughborough University, designed in conjunction with the Building Societies Association for mutual leaders.
Susan Freeman is a partner at law firm Mishcon de Reya. An experienced real estate lawyer, her in-depth understanding of the property market and business training as a Sloan Masters MSc (London Business School) graduate, combined with an extensive circle of contacts help make the firm’s programme of events “must attend” networking opportunities. Susan is a non-executive director of developer This Land, on the advisory board of Seaforth Land and Work.Life and on the board of Midtown Business Improvement District. Susan also hosts the Propertyshe podcast in which she interviews key influencers in real estate and the built environment.
Tom is Head of UK Residential Research at Knight Frank, writing the firms’s industry-leading Prime Central London sales and rental reports and overseeing all research on UK property markets, including the country house market and Scotland. Tom is a regular media contributor on topics ranging from the performance of individual markets to the impact of global political and macro-economic events on London and UK property markets. He has contributed to Knight Frank's Wealth Report, Global Cities and Active Capital reports. He also produces regular updates on topical issues including Covid-19, Brexit, UK politics, financial markets and property taxes, which receive widespread media coverage. Before Knight Frank, Tom was a property journalist, writing about residential and commercial markets in numerous countries.
Dr Vanessa Brady OBE is the founder of The Society of British and International Interior Design (SBID) and an international interior designer, with over 30 years’ experience in the design industry. She regularly speaks on business development and finance overseas on behalf of the UK government for the creative industries. Vanessa also received an OBE from the Queen, recommended by the Prime Minister’s office for services to Interior Design and the UK Economy. She was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Design in recognition of her achievements to the profession and education of interior design from Southampton Solent University. She won the Woman in the City Award for the Built Environment in 2013 and achieved the first Diploma for completion of Corporate Governance from the Institute of Directors in 2002.
William Carrington is a founding director of LonRes and is chairman of the company. LonRes was incorporated in 2000 and provides real-time transactional sales and lettings data as well as research and data analytics to the real estate community in London and environs, and to the banking and investment industry. He is also a director of CLEA, Central London Estate Agents, which publishes the London Magazine.
He has over 34 years’ experience the London residential market, principally in agency and valuation.