Career highlight

Awards judge

Viewing astro photos in The Endeavour Room at Royal Observatory Greenwich

Judging awards is always a privilege. I’ve been able to marvel at the accomplishments of creative and hardworking people, hold interesting discussions with fellow judges, and harness my own expertise to vote for the winners.

I’ve been lucky enough to serve as a judge for several awards, I’ve also chaired judging panels. Chairing a panel comes with added responsibility: finding independent experts, providing information, encouraging debate, and ensuring that the majority are happy with the outcome.

Running, and indeed entering, awards requires a lot of hard work. But I find it hugely rewarding to be able to recognise someone’s creativity and hard work. Regardless of whether or not there’s a prize at stake, most people are delighted and humbled when they win.

These are the awards I’ve been involved with over the years, in various industry sectors. Judging panels I chaired are indicated by *.

South West Business Insider awards

These business awards celebrated the achievements of companies and individuals in the South West region of the UK, with the awards given out at gala dinners. The awards were sector-specific except for 42 under 42, which honoured young entrepreneurs.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

I helped set up this annual competition for amateur astrophotographers, run by Royal Observatory Greenwich, when I was editor of BBC Sky at Night magazine and served on the judging panel for three years.

BAE Systems Innovation Challenge

This competition for teams of apprentices at BAE Systems benefited the charities Help for Heroes and Royal British Legion. Apprentices had nine months to research and build the solution to one of two problems affecting disabled athletes. They could choose to design either a lightweight and affordable hand bike or a support for sailors with spinal cord injuries.

UWE Bristol SCU Science Writing Competition

Run by the Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol, this competition was open to non-professional writers. It was an honour to be asked to judge entries alongside SCU’s Andy Ridgway and Dr Emma Weitkamp, and BBC Science Editor David Shukman.

The Royal Photographic Society International Images for Science

I participated in the judging session for these awards in 2015, held at the home of the Royal Photographic Society in Bath. Part of the fun of looking at science pictures is that at first you often don’t know what they are. Luckily, experts on the panel included marine biologist The Blowfish.

On stage at an Insider awards evening

BAE Systems Apprentice Innovation Challenge

UWE Bristol SCU Science Writing Competition