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.

Peter Kavanagh

CEO & Founder - Harmony Energy and Investment Director of Harmony Energy Trust PLC

Peter Kavanagh has over 16 years’ experience in financing and development in the renewable energy sector and is passionate about sustainable investment and accelerating growth in low-cost renewable energy. He founded Harmony Energy in 2010 and the company has gone on to become one of the UK’s leading developers, owners and operators of utility-scale battery energy storage, as well as developing, building and operating wind and solar projects. Harmony Energy Income Trust Plc was successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2021. Peter is also a Director of Jones Food Company, Europe’s largest high care hydroponics facility, which is now majority owned by Ocado Group.

Dr Sophie Dale-Black

Director, UK Network – Midlands and North of England - British Business Bank

Sophie is a Director within the British Business Bank’s UK Network. She focuses on working across the business support community in the Midlands and the North of England to help the Bank to understand and overcome the challenges smaller businesses face in their access to finance journey. Sophie previously worked in strategic relationship and communication roles at ICAEW and Innovate UK, and research and innovation management in the higher education sector (Loughborough, Nottingham and Newcastle universities). Away from work, she is Vice Chair of the Governing Council at the University of Leicester, and Member of its Nomination and Remuneration Committees.

Sharon Watson

CEO and Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance - Trustee of Leeds 2023

Prior to her recent appointment, Sharon was the 7th Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre. During her tenure at PDT, Sharon received a number of awards and accolades: In 2010, she was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s ‘Women to Watch’, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK. She was awarded The Sue Ryder ‘Yorkshire Women of Achievement in Business Award’ and named ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’ in 2016. Acknowledged at the 2017 Northern Power Women Awards as part of the very first ‘Top 50 Power List’ and in 2018 Sharon won the First English Woman’s Award for Arts and Culture and was presented with an Honorary Fellowship by Northern School of Contemporary Dance. In July 2019 Sharon received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University for her contribution to the arts. Sharon’s recognitions are testament to her continued passion and drive to contribute to the local and national creative industries through the medium of dance. November 2020, Appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. In 2021 awarded an MBE in the Queens New Year’s Honours list. Sharon is a recent appointed trustee of Manchester International Festival and remains a trustee of Leeds 2023. She is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and Black, Asian and ethnic minority artists.

David Kerfoot CBE

Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire -

David founded The Kerfoot Group jointly with his wife Elizabeth in 1980 in a back bedroom using £300 capital which grew to sales of over £80 million on a global basis exporting to over 50 countries. The company process, pack and distribute vegetable oils on three sites in the Port of Goole with a subsidiary in Poland and a sales office in New York. The group’s main markets are food manufacturing, cosmetics and aromatherapy, its head office being in Northallerton. The Group was sold to French agricultural giant Avril in 2015.

He is a passionate social entrepreneur and has a long history of community service. A founding member of the LEP for York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding, he was Deputy Chair for five years and chairman for 3 years until April 2021. Chairman of Pendragon Community Trust for 20 years which he helped found to build a facility for the multi disabled, trustee of Hambleton Foodshare, patron of the Samaritans and Clean Slate Solutions and founder of an initiative called Smile for Moldova which supported people in the poorest country in Europe. A lifelong activist in the Prison Service as well as being a trustee of Breadline. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire and was High Sheriff of North Yorkshire for the year 2020-21.

David has done many things in his life including being full time president of the student’s union at Sheffield Polytechnic (now Hallam University), speaking at the young persons United Nations in New York and over the last few years giving evidence at Parliamentary Committees on subjects such as small business and growth prospects for our region. He is passionate about helping small businesses and developing the region.

He is an honorary life member of Sheffield Hallam University Students Union, an honorary life senator of Junior Chamber International, Hambleton Champion 2014-15 and was awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to business and the community in Northallerton and HM Prison Service. In the 2022 New Year’s Honours list he was awarded the CBE for services to rural business, charity, and the voluntary sector.


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