I’m currently working in the private sector as a UX Design Manager and have a strong personal interest in building better public services, as well as continuing to work as a freelance music journalist.

Sarah Lay

I’ve managed both sides of my career – digital and journalism – side by side over the last two decades during which I’ve found success as a digital leader within local government, including with Nottinghamshire County Council leading their Digital First project; and enjoyed writing about music and culture, including five years as  editor at Louder Than War.

You can find me on LinkedIn or you can talk to me on Twitter but here’s a quick overview of the things I do.

If you’d like to talk to me about opportunities to work together please get in touch!

User experience, content strategy and making good stuff

Currently working in the private sector I’m passionate about designing great experiences for people online and off, not just in how that journey looks but in getting how things work right. This all draws on nearly two decades experience of working in digital fields and a solid academic foundation too.

Local Government and LocalGov Digital

During a 12 year career within local government I found success as a digital leader for the sector, and for the organisations for which I worked. Most recently this was with Nottinghamshire County Council, leading their Digital First project and digital team.  I am also a co-founder of the grassroots movement, LocalGov Digital.

At Nottinghamshire County Council my work involved both strategy and practical delivery of digital services across a website, intranet and a number of other sites and digital channels. In a project which was groundbreaking in its scale and scope I developed the vision and led the team which delivered a new website and set of tools for digital service delivery, an improved social media strategy, a new extranet for doing business with schools, consolidated a range of micro sites and began work toward a new intranet.  You can read about Digital First on this blog.

I’m a founding member of the digital practitioner network, LocalGov Digital, and my role there at times involved managing the daily curation of news for the sector, communications for the group and organising LocalGovCamp and Fringe. black

These roles and my previous experience led to being included in the local government shortlist for the Digital By Default News Digital Leaders 100 Awards in 2014.

During my time in local government I gained experience of content and author management and strategy, training, accessibility, usability, search optimisation, stats analysis, social media, innovation and digital engagement. Most recently my focus has been on systems leadership, service design, user experience and delivery.

I previously worked in the private sector as an online journalist, intranet manager for a regional newspaper group and on niche websites including Hold the Front Page and the BAFTA-winning Headline History. I am currently working with part of the NHS as well as other clients.

Awards and qualifications:

  • BA (Hons) Journalism
  • MA Online Communications – dissertation looking at content strategy and digital communications in local government
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Comms2Point0 UnAwards – Winner – (2015)
  • Shortlisted Best Digital Professional at Comms2Point0 UnAwards (2015)
  • Shortlisted Digital By Default News Digital Leaders 100 Awards (2014)
  • Best Public Sector at UXUK Awards 2015 – Winner –  team award for Nottinghamshire County Council Digital First
  • Digital Team – Winner – Digital Experience UK Awards 2015 – team award for Nottinghamshire County Council Digital Team
  • Shortlisted NextGen Intelligent Communities Award 2015 (Nottinghamshire County Council Digital First)
  • Umbraco Certified Practitioner (Level One)
  • GovDelivery Maximiser Award 2014 – winner – team award for growth and retention of email subscribers
  • Best Collaborative Partnership – Winner – Comms2Point0 UnAwards 2014 – on behalf of LocalGov Digital
  • Digital Excellence – Winner – CIPR LPS 2009 – team award for work on Derbyshire’s Local Elections 2009
  • Best Use of Social Media – shortlisted – CIPR Awards (Midlands Region) 2009 – team award for work on Derbyshire’s Local Elections 2009.

Louder Than War, Storge, and music journalism

Between 2012 and 2017 I was editor for Louder Than War – one of the fastest growing (and award-winning) music and counter-culture websites in the UK. I worked directly with Louder Than War Editor in Chief John Robb to manage the day-to-day running of the site as well as commissioning features, interviews in-depth editorial, and reviews.

When not helping to manage a virtual team of around 125 contributors around the world, editing content for the site or commissioning I also write there too and look after liaising with our hosts and technical support. Louder Than War is now a magazine and I’m Associate Editor and contributing writer to our print edition. The magazine is bi-monthly and produced in association with Big Cheese Publishing. You can find it in WHSmiths or you can order / subscribe online.

I founded local music and culture and Storge to reflect and support the scene in my hometown of Derby. Relaunching in January 2017 the site has a growing amount of daily visitors as well as a burgeoning social media audience and is on a five-year journey toward becoming a sustainable and vital part of local culture and creative economy.

I also write for Sounds Magazine, Gigslutz, Circuit Sweet and God Is In The TV.

The Rumble on Radio Andra

During 2016 I co-produced The Rumble on Radio Andra with my Reckless Yes partner Pete Darrington. A weekly show we focused on underground and alternative music from around the world, and on behalf of Louder Than War I provided a recommended track of the week. You can find podcasts of our shows here and we currently curate a weekly playlist on our own website.

Reckless Yes – live music promotion, artist management and record label

With co-founder Pete Darrington we launched independent record label, live music, and artist management agency Reckless Yes in 2016. In our first year we released three physical records, established a bi-monthly DIY show (Six Impossible Things), created a zine, and became management home to LIINES.

We are currently home to LIINES, Unqualified Nurse Band, Bivouac, Pet Crow, You Want Fox, Mower, Dactylion, Grawl!x, Panji and The Buffalo, and Riding The Low, and have a growing roster.

You can find us on our website at RecklessYes.com, on Twitter and on Facebook. You can buy our records in actual record shops or online here.

We Are Noble and Wild – music PR

We Are Noble and Wild is the name I trade as for music PR. My small roster currently focuses on bands signed to Reckless Yes but has also included Chris Helme (The Seahorses, The Yards); Team Love (Bentcousin album release in the UK); Great Raven; and The Hudson Super 6.

In the past I have also put on shows under this name including Hope and Social; Chris Helme; Schande; and Evans the Death.

See my full roster and services on the We Are Noble and Wild website. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.


I write fiction and I’m currently working on a trilogy. The first in the series, The Winter Passing, is due for release in early 2018.

I am currently working on my first non-fiction book – about fan culture around boy bands.


I live in Derbyshire with my husband and our two sons.

I like black coffee, the west coast of Scotland, being busy, Take That, the works of Joss Whedon, Tim Peaks Diner, taking a lot of photos, Manchester, people who were big in the ’90s, crows, tattoo roulette, gin, music and words.

I am in love with possibilities.