Meet the judges for the 2017 Michelmores Property Awards

With the judging day for the 2017 Michelmores Property Awards now just under a month away, we are pleased to introduce the judging panel for this year's event. 

We are delighted to welcome five new judges to the 2017 awards: Mike Lea, Graham Norwood, Sarah Buck, John Beauchamp and Chris Curling.

We are also pleased to welcome back five of last year's judges: Nick Hole, Mike Leece OBE, Will Mumford, Peter Lacey and Thelma Sorensen OBE. The full panel will all come together on Friday 24 March 2017 to select the very best buildings, projects and businesses from across the South West.

Meet the judges

Mike Lea

Mike is the Senior Partner of Smith & Williamson’s Bristol office, with responsibility for around 190 people and for the strategic direction of the office across the South West and beyond.

He is also lead partner of business tax in Bristol and has built up a vast amount of experience, with over 32 years in the profession. He is a trustee of several charities, covering areas as varied as education, theatre, care homes, youth clubs, drugs treatment and sports.

Graham Norwood 

Graham is a freelance property journalist, writing on residential markets and housing. He is a regular contributor to The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail property pages, appears in lifestyle magazines such as Country & Town House, edits the online trade titles Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, and frequently writes for Estates Gazette. He has also written four books on residential property. Outside of work, Graham lives in Topsham, Devon. He claims to spend too much time in the cinema and, a few times a year, at F1 motor races. You can follow Graham on Twitter @propertyjourn.

Sarah Buck 

Sarah Buck is a Chartered Civil and Structural Engineer and was the first female President of Institution of Structural Engineers in 2007. She is currently Director of BSW Consulting, an Exeter-based company which she co-founded 20 years ago. She has been involved in the design and supervision of a wide range of civil and structural projects during her career, both in the UK and overseas and has developed a particular interest in historic structures and sustainable construction. Sarah is involved internationally with structural engineering ethics and nationally with degree accreditation. Sarah was awarded an honorary degree (DEng) by the University of Exeter in 2008 and an OBE in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to Engineering and Education.

John Beauchamp 

John established benjamin +beauchamp architects in Wedmore, Somerset ten years ago. He has over 25 years' experience in the conservation and repair of historic buildings, as well as the adaptation of existing buildings and the construction of new buildings within an historic context. John is involved in ongoing work on major medieval buildings including Cathedrals and churches throughout the South West and in the Republic of Ireland. He is a member of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) and an RIBA and AABC conservation accredited architect.

Chris Curling 

Chris Curling is a lawyer, business leader and environmentalist. As a corporate finance lawyer and 15 years as either Chief Executive or Executive Chairman, he led the development of Osborne Clarke from a Bristol-based provincial firm into a national and international law practice with offices throughout Europe and in Silicon Valley.

For the past 14 years he has sat on the Boards of a range of listed and private companies. Chris has also been Chairman of several environmental bodies, including Wildscreen, the External Advisory Board of Bristol University’s Environmental Research Institute, Sustrans, and a Trustee of Avon Wildlife Trust. He has been a member of the governing body of Bristol University, and he now chairs the committee responsible for the oversight of nine Bristol schools under the umbrella of the Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol, of which he was Master in 2015.

Nick Hole

Nick Hole has over 30 years' experience in the property development sector. He is a director of Exeter-based property company Eagle One, which he first joined as a Chartered Surveyor in 1987.  He is also Managing Director of Eagle One company Blue Cedar Homes, which specialises in the luxury retirement market in the South West. 

Mike Leece OBE

With a background in engineering, Mike Leece became CEO for Devonport Management Limited (DML) in 1987, where he led the company's transition from a public sector organisation into a commercial entity. Subsequently, Mike was appointed CEO of the National Marine Aquarium – a position he held for over ten years.  He was also Non-Executive Director of Ireland's largest house builder, Governor of the University of Plymouth, and Director/Chair of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. Mike is a self-employed business consultant and is currently a NED of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

Will Mumford

Before joining LocatED as the Assistant Director of technical and planning, Will worked as the Operations Director at NPS South West – a multi-disciplinary property consultancy. Will has been based in the West Country for over 20 years working in retail, property and local politics.

LocatED is a property company which buys and develops sites in order to realise the government’s manifesto commitment to open 500 new free schools in England by 2020. LocatED is wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Education.

Peter Lacey

A highly experienced architect, Peter Lacey co-founded the Exeter and Plymouth based Architecture and Urban Design practice, Lacey Hickie Caley in 1992 – later becoming Chairman of the LHC Group. Since retiring from the business, he has been Non-Executive Chair of property consultants Vickery Holman Ltd. and Pro-Chancellor at the University of Exeter where he held the infrastructure and environmental sustainability portfolios. He retired from both last year and is currently Chair of the Green Infrastructure Board reporting to the Exeter and Heart of Devon Growth Board and a director of Exeter Golf and Country Club.

Thelma Sorenson OBE

A well-known champion of the Cornish business scene, Thelma Sorensen has a wealth of experience in the construction sector, holding the position of Regional Administration Officer for Devon and Cornwall for the Chartered Institute of Building for many years. She is also Hon. President of the South West Women in Construction group, an organisation she is extremely passionate about. Thelma is currently Chairman of the Cornwall Business Partnership and Vice Chair Cornwall for the Devon and Cornwall Business Council and now also a Director of the Architecture Centre Devon and Cornwall.  In 2010, Thelma was awarded an OBE for her contribution to economic regeneration in Cornwall.

Find out more about the Awards