In 2023, MDHUB turned 21. MDHUB Directors Fiona Shafer and Phil Green took the opportunity to bring the MDHUB team, current membership and alumni together to celebrate.


We raised a glass of Ridgeview (a huge thanks to Laquna and R&D tax for sponsoring our drinks!) and toasted our achievements at the stunning Balcombe Place.

As part of the celebrations, we welcomed fantastic speakers MDHUB alumni Giles Palmer, Mamta Patel and Matt Barker to share experiences and anecdotes from their time at the top of some of the most successful enterprises of the last 20 years.

One of our favourite parts of the event was giving out our annual awards to eight exceptional leaders. Being part of the senior leadership team of any business is hard and often unseen work, so it was a pleasure to acknowledge and celebrate their efforts.

Our first award was The Disruptor Award, sponsored by nTrust, celebrating the best use of technology to break new boundaries. We were thrilled to present the award to Davies Roberts at Flare Audio for his engineering prowess and ability to spot gaps and explore solutions in a very competitive market. Despite being a new member, Davies has already made a huge impact on Rob Day and Helen Bailey, facilitators for MDHUB, who commented on his ‘extraordinary‘ leadership and generosity.

Sustainability is essential to good business. The Futureproof Award, sponsored by Cheesmur Building Contractors, celebrates the efforts of one leader to minimise environmental impact in their business. For the Aldenham Estate, sustainability is a key priority, so it was a pleasure to present this award to Jessica Allen-Back. Moving away from arable farming towards renewable energy and environmental land management, the estate have plans to create a 200 acre managed habitat site, allowing local businesses to invest in habitat creation.

Sometimes, a radical change of direction is necessary for a business to thrive. The Alchemist Award, sponsored by Flare Audio, celebrates bold and successful business transformation. For ROCC, this change came in the form of Pete Luck, this year’s winner of the Alchemist Award. With fresh ideas, compassion and logic, Pete has helped ROCC flourish into the business it is today.

Good management is the glue that holds a team together. The Lioness Award, sponsored by Brightec, celebrates the efforts of a leader to foster a happy and productive team. This year, we were thrilled to present Rosie Freshwater, MD at the Secret Linen Store with the award. Despite only recently joining the business to help focus on strategy, Rosie’s drive and thirst for knowledge have quickly helped her to pull the team together towards a unified vision for the business.

Growing a business is exciting, but it can feel like you’re losing control. The Born to Run award, sponsored by DMH Stallard, celebrates a business leader who has generated exciting but sustainable growth in their business. This year, it was a pleasure to present Wonderpack Eco’s Steve Ettridge with the award. Since Steve joined the business as Operations Manager, Wonderpack’s Burgess Hill branch has reached capacity, and he has recently overseen the acquisition of a new warehouse.

Good support is key to effective leadership. The Best Supporting Act Award, sponsored by LMS group, celebrates an exceptional colleague who keeps things going behind the scenes, leaving the business owner free to lead the business. This year, it was the unwavering support of Josh O’Riordan that earned Best Supporting Act. Andy Ferrett had been feeling burnt out after a gruelling few years of business, so took a step back to recuperate, leaving Josh to take care of things in his absence. Not only did Josh thrive in the role, he also suggested Andy take a further four weeks off, meaning Andy was fully rested and excited to get back to work.

Our penultimate award of the night was Leader of the Year, sponsored by TEK Express. We were thrilled to award Cameron Fry at Liqui Group with this accolade for 2023. Facilitator Helen Bailey put it best: “Cameron cares deeply about his family, his people and his clients and he never loses focus.” Liqui Group’s success as a design studio is down to Cameron’s dedication to his team and his clients, and it’s a real pleasure to see him succeed.

As part of our 21st birthday celebrations, we had a special award for Longest Standing Member, sponsored by Nordell. It was a real pleasure to give the award to Bill Taylor, MD of Design Specific. Bill was with us at the start while working for Brighton Sheet Metal, and is still an active and much-cherished member today. He has provided endless ideas and has given his time generously on our advisory board. Thank you Bill for your longstanding and unwavering support for MDHUB.

We’ve come a long way from our days operating as the hub100 in 2002, supporting the 100 fastest-growing businesses in Sussex. With a membership that stretches from Sussex to London to the Channel Islands and a whole team of facilitators, we’re so proud of what we have achieved in 21 years. Above all, we are grateful to our dynamic and talented members: you inspire us to do better every day.

1. The Disruptor Award

For the leader who is using technology to break new boundaries.

Sponsored by Russ McKenzie of nTrust

WINNER: Davies Roberts of Flare Audio


2. The Futureproof Award

For the leader who is a driving force behind minimising environmental impact and having a profound impact that goes beyond commercial engagement for the wider community for the greater good.

Sponsored by Steve Hayman of Cheesmur Building Contractors

WINNER: Jessica Allen– Back from The Aldenham Estate in Hertfordshire


3. The Lioness Award

For the leader (of any gender) who has created an exceptional, happy and high performing team.

Sponsored by Andy Ferett and Josh O’Riordan of Brightec

WINNER: Rosie Freshwater of The Secret Linen Store


4. The Born to Run Award

For the business leader who is creating and demonstrating exciting and fast but sustainable growth in their business.

Sponsored by Jonathan Grant of DMH Stallard

WINNER: Steve Ettridge of Wonderpack Eco


5. The Best Supporting Act

For the exceptional colleague behind the scenes who helps keep it all together to allow you as the business owner to lead and effectively thrive.

Sponsored by Luke Mead of LMS Group

WINNER: Josh O’Riordan of Brightec


6. Leader Of the Year Award

For the outstanding MD or CEO of the year.

Sponsored by Sam Francis of TEK Express

WINNER: Cameron Fry of Liqui Group


7. The Alchemist Award

For the leader who has transformed their business for the better in 2023.

Sponsored by Davies Roberts and Naomi Roberts of Flare Audio

WINNER: Peter Luck of ROCC



8. Our 21st Birthday Award

For the longest standing MDHUB member.

Sponsored by Paul Mason of Nordell

WINNER: Bill Taylor of Design Specific

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