Meet the Judges

Diana Sterck

Being a judge is a great opportunity to share my knowledge and experience, and at the same time, hear about all the wonderful business stories in Merton. I specialise in strategic marketing and marketing communications and as Chief Executive of Merton Chamber of Commerce, I have over 20 years’ experience of public and private sector partnerships and of running a small business. I have led and developed the business to be recognised as the most successful and largest area based Chamber of Commerce in London. I used to be an international ice skater and judge, representing Great Britain in major European competitions. The discipline and commitment required to reach this level has contributed enormously to the drive and determination I demonstrate in the world of business.

Mike Spink

Mike has a degree in Business Management from Newcastle University and became a full member of the ICAEW in July 2020 having completed his professional training at Deloitte. Mike joined WSM in December 2020 where he has continued to develop his depth of experience primarily working with corporate clients, ranging in size from small owner-managed businesses to large multinational retailers. Outside of work, Mike's hobbies include cricket, football, and most recently, he has taken up the highs and lows of the golf world. Having worked with local businesses, attended the awards for a couple of years in a row and knowing that as a firm WSM have sponsored the awards for over 10 years as headline sponsors, I am delighted to now be involved in a part of it that contributes to the selection process.  

David Gentles

I was delighted to have been appointed Head of Sport and Leisure at Merton Council in September 2023. Part of this role is to lead on the Council’s ambition to become London’s Borough of Sport, providing more opportunities for Merton residents, particularly those aged 4-16 and over 65’s to become more physically active. I have had a lifelong passion for sport both personally and professionally including 16 years working for London Sport. As a father of two teenage teenagers, David has spent many hours supporting his children to be active and as a British Swimming Referee volunteers any spare time helping to run swimming galas.  

Stacey Fraser

I’m the Ticketing and Sales Manager at New Wimbledon Theatre with over 10 years’ experience working in Sales, Marketing and Ticketing. I am honoured to represent the theatre as part of the judging team for this years’ awards.Our community in Merton is always at the forefront of our mind at New Wimbledon Theatre as we see over 225,000 patrons through our doors every year. We know how important these customers are to our local businesses and we feel it’s imperative that we are collaborating with our neighbours to serve this community. As a local resident for over 20 years, I am an ardent supporter of the borough and seeing it thrive. I’m proud to say that we are sponsoring Merton’s Best Charity Award this year and I’m most looking forward to hearing your passion and how you have made a difference in Merton. Good luck to all!

Nicola Laver

I started my career in childcare where I was a Nursery Nurse and later a Nursery Manager at St Helier Hospital and a Community Day Nursery in North London. My first experience of Apprenticeships was through St Helier where I trained as an assessor for their customer service awards. I later joined a training Centre in 2000 where I taught and assessed on Childcare Apprenticeships.

Since then I have been a Childcare and Health and Social Care tutor working with both Apprenticeships and full time classroom based courses. I have worked in this field for 14 years and am now the Head of School at South Thames Colleges Group. These awards are very important to me as they are an opportunity to showcase all that is good with British Business within Merton.

Jonathan Askew

I am an audit partner in the Wimbledon office of Hartley Fowler, technical partner for the firm and lead the firm's specialist charities and not for profit team. I divide my time between advising clients on a variety of subjects, providing support to the whole firm overseeing high level accounting and auditing issues and for professional compliance matters, training and mentoring of team members. My clients come from a wide range of sectors that include technology, property, venture capital, and a number of international groups. I work closely with owner managers and family run businesses delivering professional advice that helps them manage, run and grow their organisations. By obtaining an in depth understanding of my clients and their affairs, I am able to provide solutions that balance the needs of the business with those of the founder and family behind it.

Catherine Fisher

Catherine is Morr & Co’s Managing Partner. Her role as Managing Partner is to lead the firm’s management team, and play a pivotal role in driving forward the firm’s strategy. This includes working closely with partners and the heads of the operations teams, to ensure that the firm is focussed on its client and employees, as well as ensuring the firm is well managed from a financial, regulatory and technology perspective.Before becoming Managing Partner, Catherine led Morr & Co’s Dispute Resolution team, and she continues to practice as a dispute resolution lawyer.Catherine is a Solicitor-Advocate (Civil) and also sits as a Deputy District Judge on the South Eastern Circuit.

Lucy Kane

I am looking forward to being a judge at this years’ awards and use the business skills I’ve gained from working with 100’s of local businesses since Time & Leisure Magazine was established 25 years ago. As Owner and publisher for over 20 years, I have enjoyed building the Time & Leisure brand, establishing our trusted and much-loved magazines in print and digital media portfolio. Our magazines cover ten amazing areas across SW London and Surrey, plus our weekly Time & Leisure Weekend newsletter and website extend our reach to fast growing audiences online and social media. Our loyal audiences are at the heart of everything we do which is reflected on our new media website along with our Creative Design Agency. It is a genuine pleasure to extend our involvement in the community and support the creative sector in these awards. Good luck to all the participants!

Ari Fatah

I am looking forward to this year’s awards, and in particular learning about the ways in which businesses within Merton are embracing sustainable opportunities, as part of the judging panel for the Sustainable Impact Award. I hold a keen interest in environmental issues, and studied Environmental Science for my bachelor's degree, so I’m interested to see what changes and innovations are being made on the ground in Merton to pave the way for a sustainable future.I’m a health & safety professional, and I am the Quality Assurance Lead for CHAS, the leading provider of risk prevention, compliance and supply chain management services in the UK.

Stewart Rolfe

I am looking forward to contributing to the judging team for this year’s awards and seeing what amazing things are happening in Merton. I am an Associate of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a RICS Registered Valuer and I hold a BSc in Land Administration and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1990. Before joining Andrew Scott Robertson in 2014, I worked as an Associate Director at DTZ and CBRE to advise clients on all aspects of commercial property from agency to development and investment with a strong emphasis on asset management. At Andrew Scott Robertson, I head up the commercial agency department and specialise in investment, development and acquisition.

Gareth Rees

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the judging panel for the Merton Best Business Awards and look forward to using my many years of business experience to help judge the applications from outstanding businesses in Merton. My career in financial services began in a UK retail bank over 35 years ago and in 1999 along with two other partners I founded Gem & Co Financial Services. I am the Managing Director and Chartered Financial Planner specialising in all areas of financial planning, including pensions, investments and tax planning. I work with other professionals, senior executives and business owners who are usually in the run up to retirement and looking to move away from corporate life, or already in retirement and looking to organise their wealth into a sustainable income. I am supported by a dynamic Client Services team and we are all passionate about helping our clients plan for the life they want to live.

Seamus Murphy

I started working in the technology world when windows were just a feature in the office not software! During my years in the telecoms industry, I have seen many changes, initially working in the global market with large corporate companies but now working locally with SME’s. I soon realised that the size and location of the businesses doesn’t change, it’s the challenges they meet. I have helped many businesses to review their own technologies and be able to communicate more simply, respond quickly, efficiently and seamlessly. I am delighted to join the judging panel at to share my knowledge and experience and hear how our local businesses have met their own challenges.

Craig Hurring

I am the Chief Executive of Love Wimbledon Business Improvement District (BID). While I’m passionate about making great places, I also know you cannot do this without great people, and one of the things I value most about leading a BID is the wide range of brilliant businesses I am able to work with and support – and Merton is full of many such organisations. That’s why I’m excited to be a judge and why Love Wimbledon is proud to sponsor the Enterprising Business Award. We have seen such imaginative thinking from existing businesses and start-ups alike considering new markets, customer bases, products and technologies that enable them to thrive, and it is right we celebrate these achievements.

Amar Shah

Amar Shah is the Head of Sales for Romulus, a property developer with over 1 million sqft of commercial workspace across London, and the General Manager of Huddle, Romulus’ coworking arm. Launched in Hammersmith in 2018, Huddle provides flexible workspace for freelancers, start-ups and scale-ups, including a number of blue chip organisations. Due to Huddle’s continued success, Amar is overseeing the launch of two new locations this year, in Wimbledon and Fulham. Having worked in the real estate industry for over 20 years, Amar is passionate about supporting businesses, helping them develop and grow within the workplace.  

Simon Shimmens

With experience of working in the private, public and voluntary sectors I feel confident to join the judging panel for these important awards. I have been involved in judging and winning awards in the past, including judging the award winning company of the UK Business Excellence Awards, so appreciate that the commitment and experience of the judging panel needs to match that of the businesses that step up as nominees. I am very much looking forward to working with the other judges and helping to recognise the crucial role local businesses play in the long term success of Merton, it’s communities and residents.

Alexandra Martin

I have worked for Reed for nearly 19 years and am currently the Senior Regional Director for West London covering all specialisms including Accountancy, Business Support, Marketing & Creative, Facilities and Hospitality & Leisure. I am delighted to be part of the judging panel for this year’s Merton Best Business Awards. Recruiting the best talent is the key to success for any business whatever the size and I am passionate about partnering with local organisations to give them access to the best possible candidates to help make their business a success. Something that gives me tremendous pride and satisfaction in my role is recruiting for my own teams, getting to support people grow and develop their careers throughout REED. Without the right people, we are nothing and this passion for placing people in the right place for them to be a success is something that drives me on a daily basis.

Eleanor Merrick

I am delighted to be part of the judging team for this year’s Merton Best Business Awards and celebrating the successes across the borough. We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible throughout this process. My role at the University is to lead on business engagement, student placements and careers, alumni relations, and fundraising. I am fortunate to have had a long career with the University and prior to that worked in communications and marketing in corporate, public sector and agency roles in the north west.

GET INVOLVED

If you would like to know more about the 2024 Awards, how you can get involved as a sponsor and the benefits that this can bring your business, please get in touch.