Henry Playfoot, strategy director at Claremont, is this year’s winner of the Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award, having been praised for his ‘strong integrity, principles and ethics’ at the awards ceremony today.
In its third year, the Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award recognises those unsung heroes who have made a difference in the industry and bring out the best in other people, without expecting anything in return.
Launched by Gorkana in partnership with LEWIS, the award is run in memory of the PR agency’s former employee, Suzy Ferguson, who passed away from bowel cancer in 2012, aged 31.
Playfoot was chosen from a shortlist of five, following a record number of nominations, by a panel of judges. These include Suzy’s father, Canon John Carter, a former BBC producer and journalist; Suzy’s husband, Alex Ferguson; Sally O’Neill, VP International at LEWIS; Stephen Waddington, director of Ketchum Europe and former CIPR President; and Jeremy Thompson, EMEA MD at Cision (owner of Gorkana).
When considering the shortlist, the judges looked for four key qualities; the ability to inspire others, the candidate’s role as a team mentor, leadership and caring qualities, and how they bring their personal values to activities inside and outside of work.
Ben Caspersz, Claremont founder and MD, nominated Playfoot, who described the 2016 Suzy Spirit Award winner as a man who ‘lights up our lives’.
Caspersz said he was inspired to make a nomination after reading about Suzy standing at the door of her church welcoming people in: “Welcoming people, that’s what Henry does every day.”
The judging panel noted his self-effacing manner, his strong integrity, principles and ethics, and his encouragement of clients to ‘do the right thing’ even at the expense of other areas of gain. He was also praised for his mentoring of people at Toastmasters, a not-for-profit organisation that develops public speaking skills.
Thompson said: “The winner of the Suzy Spirit Award is intended to recognise an individual of exceptional character, integrity and determination, in memory of Suzy Ferguson, who inspired so many at LEWIS and the broader PR industry. This year’s winner is no different – he has inspired those around him and has done so with genuine humility. Henry is a worthy winner and epitomises that spirit which we look for.
“Gorkana is proud to sponsor and promote the award – all proceeds of which go to Bowel Cancer UK to promote awareness of the disease through improved research.”
Playfoot met the judges last month at LEWIS’ London offices, where he said: “I believe that treating people well, nurturing their talents and recognising their needs as people is a good and right thing to do, but it’s also a good way to run a business.”
Playfoot started his career in multi-platform campaigns for the Department of Health and the BBC, before he co-founded his own digital comms firm in 2000. He joined Claremont in 2014 as strategy director.
The other four finalists shortlisted for the 2016 Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award 2016 were Chloe Couchman, head of PR at Merlin Entertainments (formerly PR director at Carlson Wagonlit Travel when nominated); Anita Glover, head of corporate comms at mhs homes limited; Chloe Staniforth, account executive at Cream Consultancy; and Louise Thompson, marketing and PR manager for Dalton Park retail outlet.
Last year, the award went to Nicola Green, director of communications and reputation at O2. The first winner of the award in 2014 was Rosie Warin, who worked at Forster Communications at the time, and has since taken over the reins of Global Tolerance.