Freelancer of the Year finalists announced

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IPSE is delighted to announce the 20 freelancers and ambassadors shortlisted for the Freelancer of the Year Awards 2018.

The Awards, now in their fifth year, recognise and celebrate the innovation and excellence of freelancers across the UK. Applicants are judged on a range of criteria including the strength of their portfolio, their passion and commitment to freelancing, business acumen, creativity and the distinctiveness of their work.

Winners will be announced on National Freelancers Day on 28 June 2018.

The biggest day in the freelancing calendar, its central event at Kings Place in London will include expert guest speakers, interactive workshops, panel sessions and much more.

Chris Bryce, IPSE CEO, commented: “Well done to all our 20 finalists this year. Leaders in their fields, they show the true diversity and sheer entrepreneurial energy of the freelance community today. Whittling the applications down to these wasn’t easy: this year we were inundated with strong applications from freelancers all around the UK, and the exceptional quality of our finalists reflects just how high standards were. 

“The freelancers and ambassadors who made it through are a credit to their respective fields, and show better than anything the dynamism, productivity and outright brilliance of the UK’s freelance sector.”

There are four freelancing and ambassador categories this year:

1. Freelancer of the Year

For the most talented self-employed people in the UK aged 24 and over. This award is designed to recognise and celebrate the innovation and excellence of freelancers in the UK.

James McCann-Ellerington, PR Consultant

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James has worked in PR for over a decade delivering results for a wide range of clients - from global organisations to start-ups. After six years working in technology at Brands2Life and a further two years at H+K leading the adidas global football account, he left to set up as a freelance consultant in 2014. His expert sectors include; technology, property corporate, startups, sports sponsorship and clean technology for both B2B and B2C audiences.

Stephanie Drax, Freelance Writer and Editor

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Stephanie is a freelance writer and editor specialising in travel, culture and lifestyle. She has written for many of the UK’s glossy magazines and broadsheets, including Vanity Fair, Porter, Condé Nast Traveller, House & Garden, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times and Canada's Globe & Mail.

She is also the founder of travel, culture and lifestyle video content company VisionAir Films. Its guides have been carried on 15 airlines, including British Airways, American Airlines, Aer Lingus and Singapore Airlines, and her lifestyle videos have featured on The Guardian and Telegraph websites. 

Shabana Hussain, Actress

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Shabana founded her business in London in 2015. In just two and a half years she has booked over 70 jobs ranging from TfL voiceovers to roles in feature films. In particular, she has had roles in BBC’s Doctors and Murdered for Love and carved out her niche as a leading British-Pakistani actress. 

Mentoring and coaching fellow actors is a passion of Shabana's. Seeing her success, many actors now seek out her advice and assistance and she specialises in helping them use social media to get noticed in the industry.

Richard Knight, Mime Artist

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Richard has been performing, directing and teaching mime for over 30 years. He has taught at the Royal College of Music, the Royal School of Art, the National Theatre and both Oxford and Cambridge universities.

He has worked with Andy Serkis on motion capture for Avengers: Age of Ultron, was the personal mime tutor for Carey Mulligan in Suffragette and was a slow-motion expert on Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd. He has also performed all over the world, including at Wembley Arena, the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Mandy Barker, Graphic Designer

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Mandy Barker is the founder of branding and design studio Sail Creative. As a design collective they defy the traditional agency structure, bringing to each project not a range of individuals, but an experienced, collaborative team of experts, providing extra agility and efficiency.

Mandy offers not only creative expertise, passion and strategic vision, but also a strong moral compass. Her studio work with people making real change, helping self-initiated projects challenge the status quo and highlight real-world issues. Because design doesn’t only need to look good – it can do good too.

Abdul Parker, Business Consultant

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Abdul is an interim transformation consultant with over 15 years’ worldwide experience. He has worked across a whole host of industries including Financial Services, Education, Healthcare, Telecommunications, Pay TV, E-Commerce, Oil and Gas and the public sector.  

Abdul has delivered major successes for clients, not least cost savings in excess of £50 million and customer and staff satisfaction levels improved by more than 25 per cent. He is also the author of forthcoming book, Operational Excellence – Embedding a Culture of Continuous Improvement.  

Frances Ryan, Journalist

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Frances Ryan is a journalist and broadcaster. She writes a weekly column for the Guardian and features in publications including New Statesman, i paper, and The Pool. She appears on radio and television, from BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and The World Tonight, to BBC Sunday Politics and Sky News.

She has a doctorate in political theory, with a focus on inequality in education, from the University of Nottingham. She will release her debut book on disability in Britain with Verso in 2019. 

Iona Bain, Finance Writer

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Iona Bain has established herself as the country's go-to voice on young people's finances. She started her award-winning Young Money Blog in 2011 and has since written a book (Spare Change), presented a Radio 4 documentary on financial education and become a regular commentator in national media.

She was recently named a governor of the Pensions Policy Institute and speaks at events throughout the year. She also runs the Young Money Agency, providing outstanding ideas, writing and consultancy to make the financial industry more youth-friendly, fair and trustworthy.

2. Young Freelancer of the Year
For the most talented self-employed people in the UK aged 23 or under. This award is about celebrating the achievements of people who made the jump into freelancing at an early age and are already making a success of it.  

Harvey Morton, IT Support

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Harvey started his IT support company in 2013, aged 15, as part of a school enterprise competition. Now it offers a whole range of services including social media management, web design, app development and media production.

He specialises in digital channel mastery and prides himself on delivering beautiful digital projects to businesses across the UK. Harvey is especially passionate about offering an open, flexible approach and tailoring his service to every client, understanding and effectively meeting all their business needs. 

Leah Layzell, Designer

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Leah is a designer and digital specialist who uses her company, The Virtual Studio, to help boost female and creative businesses. She provides everything from web design and marketing to automation and strategy services to companies all around the world.

Leah started her entrepreneurial career after having her daughter at just 20 years old. She now campaigns against all age and parental-related prejudices in the business world. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Best Newcomer VA award and is a regular mentor to secondary school children.

Thomas Love, Graphic Designer

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Thomas Love is a graphic designer for film and television, specialising in graphic props. He graduated from the University of Leeds in 2016 with a degree in biochemistry but decided to leave the lab behind for graphic design.

Since then he’s created everything from tapestries and hand-painted signs to futuristic computer systems for The Miniaturist (BBC One), Peaky Blinders (BBC Two) and HUMANS (Channel 4). He's also worked on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Maleficent 2 and upcoming period drama Gentleman Jack.

Josephine Vermilye, Zero Waste Consultant

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Josephine is a 21-year-old British, Swiss, American living in London. Right now, she is pursuing her passion for nature conservation through her career as a freelance plastics consultant. 

She first started out through her Youtube Channel, where she makes videos on reducing waste. Using a range of institutions, her global online community and her personal life experience of cutting out plastic, she advises organisations trying to phase out single-use plastics, helping make the process smooth, cost-effective, ecological and scandal-free.

3. New to Freelancing

A new award for 2018, this is designed to celebrate independent professionals who have successfully joined the world of self-employment in the past 2 years.

Joseph Bell, Digital Producer

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Joseph is a freelance digital producer specialising in immersive media and digital history. He has developed and produced a range of award-winning work, much of it during his seven years at the BBC.

Since going freelance in January last year, he has worked with a range of brands, broadcasters and heritage & arts organisations to consult on and produce various digital projects. Notable credits include a series through The Space and the highly successful Dan Snow-fronted Passchendaele 100 and Cambrai 100 campaigns for the Royal British Legion.

Chris Pipe, Town Planner

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Chris has a wealth of experience in the town planning industry and as former head of planning for a council and a director for a large PLC property company she knows her way through the planning system from a unique perspective.

She launched Planning House in 2016 - an independent planning consultancy based in North East England, which specialises in residential development. The ethos behind Planning House is to provide no-nonsense, realistic support and advice for clients but with a personal service being at the core of the business.

Gemma Milne, Journalist/Copy Writer

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Gemma is a Scottish creative science nerd obsessed with tech, design, Irn Bru and pi. She is a freelance journalist & podcaster, writing for the Guardian, BBC, Singularity Hub, and others  covering science, tech, culture and politics.

Gemma is also co-founder of Science: Disrupt - an organisation connecting the innovators, iconoclasts and entrepreneurs intent on creating change in science. She is an international speaker and works with the World Economic Forum as one of their global shapers, and is an expert advisor for the European Commission. Gemma is on the Innovation Jury for SXSW and is a Judge for the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. 

Lauren Stacy, Event Producer

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After gaining experience at several notable agencies, Lauren became a freelance event producer in April 2017 and in the past 12 months has worked for clients including Cake (Havas), This is XYZ, and Momentum WW.

Whilst working within the events industry for the past eight years, Lauren has produced events for a range of brands, including Shell, Paco Rabanne, Formula E, and American Express, and was part of the multi-award-winning campaign Respect the Water for the RNLI, activated by Leo Burnett Change.

4. Ambassador of the Year
IPSE ambassadors are the people who make the freelance community stronger, providing products and services to make their working lives easier. They are the membership organisations, support groups, knowledge hubs and individuals who form the backbone of the flexible labour market.

The Hoxby Collective

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Founded by Lizzy Penny and Alex Hirst, The Hoxby Collective is a global community of talented individuals who work together to provide marketing, HR, finance, admin, operations and business transformation services to companies around the world.

This revolutionary community model provides a uniquely flexible way of working without the need for an office. And by giving everyone the freedom to choose when and where they work, they remove structural bias and create genuine equality of opportunity.


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When her son was born in 2012, Charlotte Wibberly left a long, blue chip corporate career. Then in 2015, she launched her online business management and strategy consultancy to coach business owners and help female entrepreneurs with their online business strategy. 

In 2016, Charlotte also launched VIP VA to support, nurture and champion the virtual assistant and freelance industries and create a safe space for high-performing online businesses to collaborate, share knowledge and develop. Charlotte also campaigns to improve industry standards and raise awareness about the enormous value VAs bring.

Freelance Heroes

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Ed Goodman has been training people in business skills for over 15 years. For the last five years, he has also been a freelance social media trainer delivering open courses, including masterclasses for the Guardian.

In 2016 he launched Freelance Heroes, a community which has now grown to over 2,800 freelancers from across the UK. The community supports, empathises with and encourages its member, as well as sharing skills and representing the network across the country. Ed has also had his first book published by Pearsons, called New Business; Next Steps.

Freelance Mum

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Faye Dicker is a successful voice-over artist who provides the voice of Matalan, LeapFrog and Great Western Railways. She is also the founder of parent-friendly business organisation Freelance Mum – born of her need to provide professional, child-friendly networking opportunities for self-employed parents.

The brand empowers parents to grow their businesses without feeling constantly guilty or held back because of childcare responsibilities. A highly driven woman, Faye is on a mission to support fellow freelance parents, and has recently been nominated as one of the Top 100 most influential women in the west.

For more information on the finalists and National Freelancers Day 2018, visit

Meet the author

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IPSE is the leading association for contractors, consultants, interims, freelancers and the self-employed. We strive to bring our members the most comprehensive and useful range of information and services and all the latest news about what affects your business.