The selection process for the awards involves an impartial panel of industry experts who generously volunteer their time to evaluate submissions. These individuals are chosen for their expertise and experience.

Judges review entries, ensuring a fair and unbiased evaluation. In cases where judges have conflicts of interest within specific categories, they abstain from participating in the assessment of those particular entries.

Upon the submission deadline, judges receive all entries in a uniform format, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. Each entry is then scored by the judges based on the defined criteria for each category.

Judges meet to discuss their assessments and collectively reach a final decision on a single day, solely based on the content provided in the written entries.

It is crucial to note that the entire judging process is conducted confidentially, and all decisions reached during this process are considered final.

Gary Oliver

Gary Oliver - Publishing Editor, Shields Gazette

Gary grew up in Jarrow and started his career as a journalist with the Gazette, his local paper, back in 1993. As a trainee, he won the prestigious Tom Cordner Quill for Trainee Journalist of the Year at the North East Press Awards. In three separate spells working at the Gazette he has held numerous roles including Chief Football Writer and Head of News. He has also worked for leading North East media agency North News & PIctures plus Newcastle United Football Club as a former Head of Communications.

He said: "South Tyneside is full of kind, talented and inspirational people and the Best of South Tyneside Awards are a fantastic celebration of the very best that our borough has to offer. Every year, the quality of nominations put forward for these awards is outstanding and the judges always face a very difficult task. The awards night itself is always a wonderful occasion and never ceases to remind me how many incredible people we have within our community. I hope the 2023 event is another fantastic success!"

Mandy Morris

Mandy Morris - Principal of South Tyneside College and Tyne Metropolitan College

Mandy has over 26 years’ experience in the education sector, starting her career as an FE Lecturer in Painting and Decorating before progressing to a range of FE teaching roles. Mandy’s passion and her strong belief is that ALL learners have the right to a quality learning experience that enhances life chances. Her many roles included the management and delivery of Math and English, Teacher Training and ACCESS before moving into many management and leadership roles, including Group Vice Principal for 2 FE colleges, 1 training centre and 1 A level College. Her ‘learner focus’ style easily helps her understand learner needs and this is evident in the pastoral ‘wrap around’ opportunities for all to access.

College Culture is filled with mutual respect, listening to each other, being able to express yourself to be the best that you can be. Strong links with local employers and the recent addition of Advisory boards enables the College to provide courses that meet local need, are employer responsive and delivered using high quality teaching and learning staff.

Her experience has equipped her with a diverse and comprehensive set of skills to become a respected leader who provides clear direction and support to staff.

She said: “South Tyneside is full of generous, kind, and thoughtful people who genuinely like to see their peers succeed. The Best of South Tyneside Awards recognise and reward the best the borough has to offer. We’re proud to be headline sponsors and look forward to being a part of a fantastic and inspiring event.”

Simon Ashton

Simon Ashton - Principal of South Shields Marine School

Simon began his maritime career in 1993 as a Marine Cadet with Shell, obtaining both his Engineering and Deck Officer of the Watch Certificates of Competency. In 1999 he began working for Gulf Offshore and subsequently moving Princess Cruises and P&O Ferries . After achieving his Master Mariner Certificate of Competency, he joined South Shields Marine School as a lecturer in 2006, before being appointed as Head of School in 2010 and Principal in 2020.

With his 30 years’ experience and knowledge of the maritime sector, he continues to inspire the next generation of mariners.

He said: “Having started my career at the marine school, I can relate to our students as I’ve walked in their shoes. I’m very proud of the marine school’s longstanding history in South Tyneside, which dates back to 1861, borne from a strong shipbuilding and seafaring heritage and we are delighted to be headline sponsors of this fantastic event to celebrate the local heroes and businesses in our area.”

Carl Mowatt

Carl Mowatt - Operations Director - South Shields Football Club

Coming from a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector, an impressive individual who has as a great network of associates and business bringing new exciting times to the club
Carl also does a lot of charitable work for both local and national organisation’s.

Well-travelled who has visited all continents in the globe through business, and gained a great diversity in various cultures, gained Craftsman status in Print & Design and a post graduate degree in Management Studies at Northumbria University.

Carl is so proud of his roots being educated in Secondary education in South Shields and serving an apprenticeship as a compositor at the Shields Gazette, so now employed by his local town at the Football club is an absolute honour and pleasure, and has the fondest of memories when his Dad would take him to the old club HQ at Simonside Hall.

Delighted that the awards are back in South Shields, and at the club, to echo that South Tyneside is again becoming the place to be. Best of South Tyneside Awards is a great occasion to reward the local talent which we have an abundance of. The 2023 event will be another success for the borough.

Tracey Dixon

Tracey Dixon - Leader of South Tyneside Council

Cllr Tracey Dixon, the Leader of South Tyneside Council, was first elected to represent the Labour Party for the ward of Whitburn and Marsden in May 2002.

She entered politics to make a positive change, to support the people of South Tyneside to reach their full potential and to help shape the place she has lived, worked and raised her family in all her life. As a wife, mother and grandmother, family remains her greatest passion with her commitment extended to addressing the needs of the Borough’s younger and older generations.

With a background in hotel management, Cllr Dixon also has a reputation of being a hard worker. From working late nights and double shifts to juggling multiple responsibilities Cllr Dixon puts the same hard work, determination and commitment into her role as Leader – a position she had held since November 2020. As co-owner of a family business she also has first-hand experience of the challenges businesses face.

She is also passionate about improving frontline public services at a local level and chairs the Association of Public Sector Excellence’s Northern Region Board.

She has served for many years on the Council’s Cabinet, including as Lead Member for Culture and Wellbeing between 2008-2011, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety in 2012-2015, then most recently as Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing between 2016-2020. Cllr Dixon held the position of Deputy Leader of the Council from May 2019 to November 2020.

By putting people first, and working hard, Cllr Dixon continues to do everything she can to make South Tyneside an improve the lives of residents and communities in the Borough.


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