SCBWI-BI Outstanding Contribution Awards 2015

This year, the award for Outstanding Contribution celebrates not just one fabulous volunteer, but several wonderful people right across the British Isles chapter. 

Steering Committee Award (Member Services)
Kathy Evans ~ Finance Co-ordinator

Do spreadsheets make you break out in hives? Budgets give you the heebie-jeebies? Ask Kathy! Like a trusty beaver, Kathy works away to make sure that our finances make sense and we have money to reinvest in our future endeavours. She keeps track of every event's budget and payments. With over 30 events annually, that is A LOT to keep track of!

At the end of the year, Kathy also seamlessly tackles the mammoth task of compiling the BI year-end accounts. It's mind-boggling at times, but Kathy is always the epitome of calm. She is the kind of volunteer who always tries to help out if she can, generously helps new members, and for whom nothing is too much trouble.

As if this weren't enough, Kathy also volunteered to run the South East Network for many years and dreamt up and organised the conference badge competition.

Kathy's patience, commitment and goodwill have been unfailing at a time when her own other work commitments have intensified. Generous with her advice and enthusiastic about everything SCBWI BI has to offer, without her, the day-to-day running of the region would be impossible.

Steering Committee Award (UV/Events)
Sara Grant ~ Undiscovered Voices

Sara Grant is the visionary behind the UNDISCOVERED VOICES anthology, now in its fifth year, promising new and exciting opportunities for undiscovered fiction writers, alongside illustrators. No other project has so single-handedly transformed SCBWI BI's fortunes and those of so many of our members. UV put SCBWI-BI on the map in the British publishing industry, raising the profile of our organization and in turn that of our members, both published and unpublished. It has opened so many doors.

Frequently, Sara says, "I have this idea. Can we do it?" And then she makes it happen. This is the motto for everything she does. Sara is constantly thinking of innovative ways to help our members succeed – and then helping them to do just that – with tons of enthusiasm and energy. Sara helped to set up the Networks groups, organized the Professional Series for several years alongside Margaret Carey (generously hosting many events at her house), then established the slush pile challenge and, most recently, a pilot mentor programme for newly-published authors.

Sara generously continues to give time and resources to SCBWI. Many, many people owe a great deal of their success to Sara, who is nothing shy of relentless in helping our members achieve their dreams.

Events & Members Services Award (Networks)
Maureen Lynas ~ North East Network

Maureen joined Scoobie in 2008 and, finding that most of the events were in London, in true Maureen style, she decided to tackle this head on by pioneering our SCBWI activity in the Northeast of England.

Under Maureen's careful watch, the North East Network has grown from a few isolated members to a strong vibrant community of writers and illustrators with regular meets in York and Newcastle. A real team player, Maureen has built a strong support team around her and is so committed to looking after her local members that she's even organised her own replacements. 

Maureen is usually the first to help whenever anyone has a query. SCBWI would also like to celebrate Maureen's wider strategic contribution to the networks and SCBWI British Isles – she's risen to the challenge whatever we've thrown her way. Her energy and enthusiasm are an inspiration to us all. So thank you Maureen for your amazing contribution to the Networks and SCBWI British Isles.  

Events & Members Services Award (Events)
Cath Jones & Alison Smith ~ Author Masterclasses

Cath and Alison are the well-oiled engines that make the Author Masterclass series tick. They are reliable, organised, dedicated and stalwart volunteers, on whom you can always count for a great series of events tailored to our authors.

Their events have great, well-balanced and pertinent themes, are well-attended, and break even financially. They are the sort of quiet, steadfast volunteers who always take the initiative to get their masterclasses shipshape on time without much prompting. Their energetic drive and creativity is just the sort of thing SCBWI BI needs to be able to offer great events to its members.

Events & Members Services Award (Illustration)
Mike Brownlow ~ Illustrator Liaison

Mike is a long-time professional, whose breadth of experience spans his work as a writer and illustrator and TV animator. Volunteering is a time-consuming business that takes successful professionals away from their own careers. Busy author/illustrators like Mike don't need contacts or a push forward to a publisher or agent. They are volunteering to contribute something back to the industry and help give other authors and illustrators a helping hand.

Mike has given whole-heartedly to two SCBWI BI conferences as the Illustrator Committee Liaison and has been an important part of the mentorship programme at the Picture Book Retreat for the last three years. He gives beyond his assigned mentor appointments and turns no one away, leading to a very tired Mike by the end of the Picture Book Retreat weekend!

He is always ready to help within the Illustrator Committee itself and has travelled to help and be part of face-to-face meetings in London, at times being only one of three people who show up for an Illustrator Committee meeting! Mike's contribution and genuine care for SCBWI's growing reputation and his commitment to helping children's book illustrators is remarkable.

Events & Members Services Award (Words & Pictures)
Louise Cliffe-Minns ~ Events & Writing Features Editor

Louise has been both our Events Editor and our Wednesday Writing Features Editor for 2015. Not only has Lou tirelessly gathered information to both promote forthcoming events, and collect post-event reports from attendees, she has also brought us two popular new writing features: Writers' Minds (delving in to ask what makes writers tick) and Opening Lines (the chance for SCBWI-BI members to receive feedback on their opening lines by an agent).

Always professional and organized, enthusiastic and brimming with ideas, her commitment to building W & P's features is admirable. She is the sort of volunteer who really makes a difference to SCBWI and its members.

Events & Members Services Award (UV)
Catherine Coe ~ Undiscovered Voices Committee

There simply wouldn't be an Undiscovered Voices (UV) without Catherine. Catherine has been a vital part of the UV project since 2012. She was instrumental in so many improvements to the submissions process and the production of the anthology.

Catherine possesses that unique combination of leadership, innovation, reliability and collegiality. She always goes above and beyond, but for Catherine, you soon realize that what we all see as an extraordinary level of dedication is Catherine's standard operating procedure. And she accomplishes every task with charm, wit and grace.

Her experience on both sides of the editorial desk – as an editor for Orchard for many years and a writer of many books – is definitely an asset to SCBWI. She's a much-sought-after freelance editor and writer but still finds time to give 110% to her volunteer role on Undiscovered Voices.

Events & Members Services Award (Conference)
Addy Farmer ~ Conference 1:1's

You may know her as Addy, Mrs. Farmer or possibly even Zorro, but we know her as 'THE MATCHMAKER'. Yes the unstoppable Addy Farmer has organised the writers' 1-1s at the conference for five years, though she volunteered in other ways longer than anyone can remember, in the Central North Networks and on the Conference Committee.  She has head hunted the BEST industry guests that SCBWI can buy and paired them up with eligible writers for an invaluable discussion of their work.

Addy has been there every step of the way. From booking the speakers, receiving the mountain of mail, distributing manuscripts, organising timetables and policing the clock. But maybe even more importantly, she has been there with a confidence boost, a consolatory hug, a celebratory squeal and a nice cup of tea. And there have been matches made in heaven... or publishing contracts at least.

This year Addy has taken a small step back, but she is still there at the drop of a hat (or Facebook message) with all the help, advice or encouragement we could need.

Events & Members Services Award (Pulse)
Candy Gourlay

The amazing Candy has grabbed the PULSE baton and run off with it. She has an intuitive grasp of what members will want and need even before they want and need it.  She can be counted on to always think outside the box and look at things differently. That fresh approach, teamed with her seemingly boundless energy, has made this a fantastic year for new PULSE initiatives and events.

She's the kind of volunteer who talks the talk, but also walks the walk. When she has an idea, she actually makes it happen! We're very lucky to have Candy batting for SCBWI PULSE. Is there anything that woman can't do??!!

Events & Members Services Award (Members Services)
Chitra Soundar ~ E-Critique

For some members, joining an e-crit group is a major reason for joining SCBWI-BI, especially if they can't access a physical group or get to London events. It makes a big difference to e-critique group leaders and members to know there is someone to turn to for advice.

Chitra has worked hard to offer practical and innovative solutions to make our e-critique groups more personable and efficient. She offers an enormous amount of support to group leaders and members, sorts out issues straight away, provides clear guidelines and a sense of community, and makes the work of running e-crit groups much more fun and worthwhile.

Her role as E-critique Group Coordinator is the kind of behind-the-scenes role that often goes unrecognised. But the time she puts in match-making people to their groups, welcoming new members, and dealing with a host of technical problems has made a big difference!

Chitra also organized the Slush-Pile challenge for Words & Pictures, offering members valuable opportunities to get feedback and network with editors and agents. She is the kind of person who jumps in and does whatever needs to be done with good cheer and enthusiasm, in the spirit of SCBWI.

Enormous Congratulations to you all! 


  1. Brilliant Stand Out people one and all!
    You all deserve wonderful things!
    And I wish you many of them in 2016

  2. Wonderful volunteers all! Thank you so much for making SCBWI more fun and more useful to all of us!

  3. Congratulations to everyone. I feel very honoured to be in such esteemed company :)

  4. Congratulations and THANK YOU to all these and ALL our dedicated volunteers! You make SCBWI British Isles tick. The lovely awards are the artwork by Loretta Schauer. Thanks so much, Loretta!


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