Business Action Awards 2020 | North Devon's independent business awards

Meet the awards judges

Our Business Action Awards would not be possible without the valuable assistance of our seven awards judges, each of whom has given considerable time to reading through the entries, researching entrants and spending an entire working day on meeting to decide the finalists and winners. 

We selected each judge for their knowledge of their sector and their day-to-day experience of running a business. This means that they all understand what business owners face, the decisions they have to make, the setbacks they encounter and the true value of business owners’ achievements. 

We also thank each of them for giving up the opportunity to enter their own business in the awards in order to maintain the awards’ fairness and independence.

Management accountant

Susie Kevern – Pound Lane

Susie Kevern | Poundlane | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine | North Devon business news

Susie Kevern is a Chartered Management Accountant with 20 years’ experience working in businesses large and small. She moved to Devon in 2001 and has worked with some of the county’s leading food brands, managing their finances so that the decision makers have the information that they need to control the business and successfully execute their growth plans. 

Since setting up her own consultancy in 2011, she has worked with a number of small and medium-sized businesses in a variety of industries, from food production to dentistry.

Details 07801 199671 or poundlane.co.uk


Vikas Mahajan – Aramis Rugby

Vikas Mahajan | Aramis Rugby | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine

Vikas Mahajan founded Aramis Rugby (Europe) in 2000 and officially took on the role of leading Aramis Rugby Ltd (worldwide) in August 2013. 

Born in India, Vikas is the third generation in a family business established since 1927. He graduated from university with a degree in Economics, Business and Accountancy. In the mid-nineties, he attained a Master’s degree in International Business with specialisation in trade with the European Union. He then trained with Lufthansa Airlines at its Customer Loyalty programme division in New Delhi. In the late 1990s, he attained his second Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Bremen University, Germany with a specialisation in Global Management and Entrepreneurship.

Today, all of Aramis Rugby scrum machines sold worldwide are manufactured at its factory in South Molton, Devon and then exported worldwide.

Details 01769 550284 or aramisrugby.co.uk

Personal finance

Rod Martin – Together Financial Solutions

Rod Martin | Together Financial Solutions | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine

Rod Martin began his career in finance over 25 years ago and worked for many years in the property investment industry in London. He then moved in to the banking sector, spending several years working within the mortgages and wealth management sectors during which time he also ran his own businesses both in the UK and overseas property markets.  

Rod is now happily settled back in Devon where he works with Together Financial in Barnstaple looking after clients’ pensions and investments as a Financial Planning Adviser. 

Details 01271 346123 or togetherfinancialsolutions.co.uk


Mike Matthews – Lineal Software Solutions

Mike Matthews | Lineal Software Solutions | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine

Mike Matthews is managing director of Barnstaple-based Lineal Software Solutions, which began life in the 1980s as a business application software provider (accounts, stock, MRP), and has grown ever since to become a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary IT company with a team of 25+ employees. 

Mike is former chairman of the North Devon Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and takes a keen interest in supporting North Devon’s local businesses and economy. He is a frequent speaker at business events across the region.

Details 01271 375999 or lineal.co.uk


Helen Pedlar – Pedlars Home Hardware

Helen Pedlar | Pedlars Home Hardware, Ilfracombe | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine

Helen Pedlar is part of a 150-year-old Ilfracombe family business, now in its sixth generation. Helen’s involvement with the store started at an early age before she took a break to study Textiles at university. 

Today the business is characterised by its friendly and helpful staff who are happy to be of assistance and always prepared to go that extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.

Details at Facebook @pedlarsofilfracombe


Frank Stone – Clevera

Frank Stone | Clevera | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine

Frank Stone is a creative thinker who started out on the design trail in 1994, launching his first business 20 years ago, and currently owning and running design agency, Clevera. 

With no formal training or qualifications, Frank has established a business built on strong reputation, long-term working relationships and excellent customer service, resulting in a mix of clients large and small, local, national and international, some of whom have been with him since 1999!

Details 01271 346759 or clevera.co.uk

Commercial finance

Rachael Taylor – SWIG Finance

Rachael Taylor | SWIG Finance | Business Action Award Judge | independent North Devon-based business magazine

Rachael Taylor has been in  finance for the past 22 years, moving to North Devon in 2007 where she was a local commercial manager for Lloyds Bank.

In 2019 she started with SWIG Finance as business manager covering Devon where she continues to support SMEs with their businesses.

Details 01872 223883 or swigfinance.co.uk

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