And the winner is…

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. – Isaac Newton

Lifetime Achievement Winner Comms2Point0 Sarah LayI am absolutely thrilled, if slightly shocked, to announce that I won the Lifetime Achievement accolade at the Comms2Point0 UnAwards 2015.

The shortlist was open to public vote so this is a huge thank you to all who voted for me, and have supported me across the strands of my communications career.

The other nominees in this category – John Fox, Cormac Smith and Matt Johnson – were all worthy of winning the accolade. I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear my name called when against communications professionals of this calibre and I am sure the vote was close as we’ve all done work more than worthy of recognition. I look forward to continuing to be inspired by the work each of you do in the future.

As I said in my previous post it does feel faintly ridiculous to be nominated for a Lifetime Achievement at the age of 36 but once I’d stopped shaking from the shock, grinning about my walk-on music (Take That FTW) and admiring my medal I did reflect on the journey that got me here. There were no acceptance speeches yesterday but here, without fear of being tearfully removed from a podium, I’m going to thank people who have supported and encouraged me along the way. I suspect it will be a long post and that I won’t be able to individually namecheck everyone – and I’d prefer to talk to people too, rather than only list them out.


  • If you have supported me personally or professionally – thank you.
  • If you have encouraged me, given me tough love, rational walk-throughs or coaching – thank you.
  • If you’ve trusted me, been connected to a Reckless Yes or ever said ‘Oh God, ok, do it’ despite it being against your better judgement – thank you.
  • If you’ve hoovered around me while I faffed about with Oxford commas, or fetched me cups of tea while I moaned about gritting update duty – thank you.
  • And if you have screwed something up, shown me how not to do something or taught me things the hard way – thank you too.

Lifetime Achievement medalThis is the first time I’ve been nominated for an award that has taken account of the different careers I run concurrently and so it means I have so many more people to thank.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child and while I can’t mention everyone individually these are the people who deserve extra thanks, who have been my tribe while I have grown. Especially these are the people that have been there over the last 18 months as all three strands of my professional life started to go stratospheric (and while I wrote my first two novels also).

Here we go…

Those closest to me

My mum – even though she’s not here she’s a massive influence on me still. And my dad for always supporting me no matter how bonkers my idea or next move seems.

My darling husband Michael and our two boys, Prentice and Tristan – not only do you all encourage me but you’ve all done practical things to support me too. I am grateful and love you entirely and for always.

My Thumbs Up Girls (Kelly, Vena, Lauren and Sarah) and Frankie, for listening to me whinge and doubt myself but also getting excited about the things I am excited about. And also for reading my books and fully embracing the role of my fangirl army.

Local government and LocalGov Digital

The team at Nottinghamshire County Council – conceiving and delivering Digital First has been a huge thing for each of us individually, as a team and as a leader in what the sector can do. There is far still to go but we’ve come a long way in a short time and I am immensely proud to be part of such a talented, enthusiastic and hard-working team.

The Coaching Carls – Haggerty and Bembridge – you two have probably put up with more of my self-doubt, determination, thinking aloud and self-prototyping than most. And you both inspire me a lot and give me hope that the sector does have some of the people it needs in and around it to truly transform.

That also goes for the LocalGov Digital crew – informally, voluntarily you are leading the sector and providing practical transformation in and across organisations. You’re all rather marvellous humans.

Thanks also to Dan Slee and Darren Caveney at Comms2Point0 – a fine event, a GREAT choice of film but also over the years huge enthusiasts and supporters of my work. Thank you both!

Louder Than War

It’s a big family at Louder Than War but at the heart of it is my Editor in Chief John Robb. Growing up he was a writer I loved to read and so to now work alongside him to manage Louder Than War and support our family of contributors is still pinch-myself amazing.

It’s even better that we can share music we love with each other and our readers and that we’re now also doing that in print. Thank you for seeing something in my writing, trusting me as an editor and reminding me that we are punk.

Noble and Wild

It started as a bit of fun to put on a few gigs and now I’m doing real PR work for real musicians. It’s a proper thing. It is the centre of the venn of my career – it’s where the music, writing, communications and digital all come into play. I love Noble and Wild dearly.

There’s a big thank you owed to people who have believed in me enough to work with me through Noble and Wild – Phil Burgess and The Hairy Dog (support the venue here), all the bands that have played a gig under this banner and the longest standing member of this tribe – Chris Helme.

He’ll probably tell me to give over but this summer he’s been incredibly important in helping me believe in myself as a writer (as a journalist but also as an author), who has tolerated me sniffing his record sleeves (not a euphemism) and has generally been a good friend, especially that time in Carlisle he gave me a Curly Wurly from his rider and the time he introduced me to what became of my favourite albums of 2015 (The Smoking Trees – check it out!). Thank you Chris – looking forward to more of this stuff in 2016!


I don’t know whether my work in any of these areas has been helpful to people or inspiring in some way. I don’t know that it matters that I’m a successful female in both digital and journalism or whether that visibility is helpful or inspiring either. I hope that the things that I enjoy doing are useful to others and that I am spending my time well.

This award does come at a point where it feels like a good time to reflect on that a little more – I don’t know what 2016 and beyond have in store but it feels like time for a few more Reckless Yes’s and to embrace even more opportunities.

Thank you to everyone once more – thank you, thank you, thank YOU!


You can find me on Twitter – please come and chat!

I am editor of Louder Than War – find my words about music on the site here. We have launched as a magazine and you can find us in WHSmiths – next issue out 7 December – or order online here.

I offer music PR, live promotion and digital communications at Noble and Wild – our website, on Twitter and on Facebook.

I also write fiction under the name Riley Reynolds – find out more about my books or chat to me on Twitter.

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