Join leading awards expert Donna O’Toole as she reveals everything you need to know about winning awards.

In honest and open interviews with award winners, judges, and the organisers behind the world’s most loved awards, Donna reveals the latest awards trends, the do’s and don’ts of entering, what makes a winner, and more! Discover how the awards industry has reacted to the challenges of the global pandemic, and what to expect as we head into a new era of awards and recognition.

Donna talks with Debbie Gilbert – a multi-award-winning entrepreneur who is the owner of Viva Business Support, and founder of both Mums UnLtd and The Best Business Women Awards. Over the past 20 years, Debbie has built a reputation for being an excellent supporter of small businesses and start-ups; here, she tells her story in this insightful episode.

In this episode, Donna discusses the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and explains why these awards are widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious. Learn more about this year’s winners and find out how the entry process works, so that you’re armed with the information you need to get started on your Queen’s Awards journey.

Sarah Austin is a leading voice of the awards and events industry. In addition to a 12-year career running an international awards portfolio at Informa (formally UBM), Sarah was notably the Awards Director for the National Business Awards. This year, she has launched The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards which celebrate the resilience, innovation and creativity of British businesses.

Donna talks with Mark Leruste, host of the Unconventionalists® podcast and former manager at the Movember Foundation, where he helped raise €2.8 million for men’s health and inspired 110,000 fundraisers to sign up. He explains about his big goal of creating a world where the vast majority of people feel connected to an important mission at work.

Donna is joined by David Henson MBE, a highly successful parasport athlete who took up athletics following a life-changing incident whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2011. Dave has since gone on to represent Great Britain at numerous global events, winning medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, the 2017 IPC World Championships in London, and the 2016 IPC European Championships.

In this episode, Donna talks to Neil Skehel, the CEO of Awards International, an international awards organiser with 12 programmes around the world including in Europe, the Middle East and the UK. He explains about the launch of two brilliant awards – the flagship UK Customer Experience Awards and the newly formatted UK Business Awards.

Join Donna in conversation with Ian Washington-Smith, the Director of Rego, an organisation that works with people to solve problems and support individuals and teams to achieve their goals and reach their potential. Prior to this, Ian served in the Police for 30 years as a Detective Inspector – managing the Counter Corruption Unit working across the Thames Valley Police force area in his last post.

Donna is delighted to welcome Charly Young to the podcast. In 2013, Charly co founded The Girls’ Network with her colleague, Becca. Starting out as a one-to-one mentoring scheme for 30 girls, The Girls’ network has grown to support over 1,000 girls a year aged between 14 and 19 to overcome barriers and access to opportunities, as well as giving them the confidence and skills to seize those opportunities and thrive.

Join Donna in conversation with Stephen Fear, The Phonebox Millionaire™, British entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist and author with 50 years’ international business experience. Discussing his incredible entrepreneurial journey from phonebox to freedom, to Chairman and Founder of the Fear Group, and being a Great British Entrepreneur Awards Judge.

Donna is delighted to be joined by Alison Edgar MBE, also known as “The Entrepreneur’s Godmother” because of her incredible support of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. In 2020, Alison received an MBE for recognition of her long-term work within entrepreneurship and business, and I’m delighted that she can join me today to share her inspirational journey and possibly a few tips for us all to succeed in 2021.

Donna is joined by Neil Foster, Vice President of the Guinness World Records Consultancy who works with brands, agencies, community groups and charities to make and break records by creating challenges that complement their marketing campaigns.

And we are also delighted to welcome Hayley Woodward, Head of Global Marketing for Rubik’s – the iconic toy puzzle cube that has swept the world since 1980 and is as popular in Christmas stockings today as it was 40 years ago!

Donna catches up with Dr Rebecca Zhi Herbert, founder and the Academic Director of Wisdom Spring Education. As Silver winner of the UK Customer Experience Awards for Customer Experience during the Crisis, and finalist of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, 2020 has certainly been an eventful year for Rebecca and her team!

In this episode of our podcast, Donna spoke with Marvin Sordell, former Premier League, England and Olympic footballer, turned creative producer, writer and ambassador for mental health. Marvin shares his stories on leaving the footballing world, being fearless whilst striving boldly into a new industry and his advice on how we can all achieve our dreams.

In this short episode, Donna shares her expertise and insights on creating a Queen’s Honours nomination, the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, and how the honours nomination system works. Plus she explains why you should be nominating the people who have been ‘COVID Heroes’; giving back to their communities, and going above and beyond during the pandemic.

Donna is joined by Gold Medal winning team GB Paralympian Neil Fachie MBE. Neil shares his incredible story from learning of his condition and the trials and tribulations to get to London 2012 and achieve his dreams. And as a full-time athlete and now co-founder of a business performance coaching company Neil reflects on the similarities between sport and business.

This episode Donna is joined by “The father of the UK Data Centre Industry” himself, Michael Tobin OBE. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Michael shares his thoughts on the many challenges life throws us and how you can overcome fear to seize the opportunities now.. Plus he shares his stories from trekking to the South Pole, to receiving an OBE from the Queen, and joking with Prince Charles.

Donna chats with Mr. Customer Experience himself, Ian Golding. Talking everything CX, Ian shares his journey into the world of Customer Experience, his stories of CX nightmares and examples winning CX strategies, plus Ian discusses the businesses who are winning in 2020 through their CX, and the effects of winning Customer Experience Awards.

Donna O’Toole talks with CEO of Ascot Group Andrew Scott, who shares his story in the publishing, events and awards industry, how they’ve navigated the pandemic and what entrants can expect when entering their award programmes.

Donna O’Toole is joined by Head of Events at The Learning & Performance Institute, Pauline Saunders. Pauline talks about their flagship awards programme The Learning Awards, including what they’re expecting from the 2021 programme, how they’ve made the submission process simple and robust, and how they support the Learning and Development Industry and Professionals.

Donna O’Toole speaks with The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Awards Director Sarah Austin, as they discuss the awards industry, and the effects of the pandemic on the awards in 2020, as well as the whole live events industry. Plus, Sarah discusses how and why you should be winning awards in 2020, and how to get involved in next years awards, which she promises to be bigger and better than ever!

Donna O’Toole catches up with Awards International CEO Neil Skehel to talk about his journey into awards, from award-winning McDonald’s Restaurant Manager to organising some of the most popular awards in the UK and Internationally, the challenges of moving to digital award ceremonies in 2020 and his message to aspiring businesses.


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What People Say About Us

“I couldn’t be happier, or more shocked, to have won a Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. Donna’s guidance was invaluable, and without her support and expertise we would have never even entered, nevermind won!”

Andrew Burnett-Thompson, CEO, SciChart


What People Say About Us

“We are delighted to have won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category and would highly recommend Donna’s services. Her professional advice and guidance was invaluable during the application process. With Donna’s help, we were able to put together a comprehensive submission for the esteemed award and we are thrilled with the results.”

Steve Kaye, Marketing Director, HiB

What People Say About Us

"I have been working with Donna over the last few years and I have to say, I have found her to be the consummate professional, always keeping her promises, a great marketer and PR guru."

Neil Skehel, Ceo, Awards International

What People Say About Us

“Donna’s masterclass gave me a fantastic insight into what it takes to win awards. I found the training extremely useful as this is something that can be carried forward and used on a day-to-day basis."

Pauline Saunders, Head of Events, The Learning & Performance Institute

What People Say About Us

“We were so proud to win gold in our category at the UK Business Awards. Thanks again Donna for your advice on our initial submission – which really helped shape the entry. The whole team is delighted with the result!”

Helen Nesbitt, Head of Content, Farrer Kane

What People Say About Us

“Donna’s guidance and advice was invaluable when preparing our submission for a number of awards this year. She helped us to lay out the detail in a way that ensured judges could clearly see compelling evidence aligned to judging criteria, challenged our thinking and helped us to ensure that nothing was left to chance. Time spent with Donna is time very well invested!”

Moyra Smith, Strategic Business Manager, Mercuri International

What People Say About Us

“The awards training has been one of the most unique, informative, and inspiring days the team have ever completed. I was really impressed Donna at how you engaged and interacted with my team – you are a real inspiration and a lady bursting with personality. Keep up the amazing work!”

Andrew Scott, CEO, Ascot Group and Business Leader Magazine

What People Say About Us

“We haven’t won an award since 2007 but in the last 5 months – we have won 5, including a really prestigious one last Friday from the City of London. So just wanted to say thank you – the course really helped switch the way we thought about entering these and the results speak for themselves!”

Amy Walters, Business Manager, Bow Lane Dental Group


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