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Business & Economy

Sarah Waddington awarded CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours

Astute.Work founder and managing director, Sarah Waddington, has been awarded a CBE for services to public relations and voluntary sectors. The honour was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Saturday, June 12.

Astute.Work is a 12-year-old management consultancy and public relations business based in Newcastle that has pioneered a virtual working model, working with organisations that put purpose and society first. Its clients include the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Children’s Cancer North, FW Capital, The Common Room of the Great North, GBB, Health Education England and Cloudfm.

Sarah developed and funded the #FuturePRoof community in 2015 to share management expertise, skills and case studies with practitioners in a bid to improve social mobility in the comms sector. The community has published six books and a number of white papers on a range of topics including NHS communications, a celebration of BAME practitioners, disinformation, influencer relations and management communication.

A lifelong contribution to the public relations industry includes more than 20-years volunteering for the professional body, the CIPR, where Sarah has held roles at regional, national and board level. She was President of the Institute in its 70th anniversary year in 2018, driving an agenda of management practice.

She is chair of the PRCA’s Borderlands and North East group and proud to be an advisory board member for The Blueprint, an initiative devised by Elizabeth Bananuka to promote Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority diversity in PR and communications.

Sarah’s other voluntary activities have included a role as Trustee of the Sunshine Fund (2014-2018). She is currently an IoD ambassador in the North East of England (2019-), and part of the advisory group which has overseen Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act which came into effect in May 2020.

Sarah said: “This honour is incredibly humbling and I’m grateful to all those who were involved in making it happen. I’m surrounded by many fantastic leaders who are also doing their bit to create a fairer society and level the playing field. That’s a group I admire and am privileged to be part of.”

“Nobody in PR deserves a CBE more than Sarah. Her contribution to professionalising our industry has been enormous, and has helped to transform it into the power for good that it is today. I congratulate her on this fantastically well-deserved recognition of her many achievements,” said Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA.

“Delighted for Sarah that she has been rightly recognised in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours for services to public relations and the voluntary sectors.  As a trojan of the PR industry she has supported so many, led the way to challenge the norms and raised standards to influence us all.  All of which will drive the future of our industry for many years to come.  It is a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with Sarah over the years and an even bigger treat to call her my friend,” said Claire Riley, Executive Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“Sarah is an outstanding practitioner – her commitment, rigour and passion is present in everything she does. It’s rare to see such ability coupled with an enormous passion to do the right thing, the desire to drive positive change and to give back in the way that she does. Strong leadership is critical as we emerge from lockdown to ensure that every individual and all areas of the UK realise their potential – and I have no doubt Sarah will be central to this in our industry. It is brilliant to see a female North East leader and friend recognised in this way,” said Jen Robson, Head of Communications, North East LEP.

“I can’t think of a PR professional more deserving of this recognition. Over the years I have got to know Sarah well, initially though working with her on many of her initiatives for which she is being recognised, but latterly as a friend. She has a tireless energy and an infectious enthusiasm for supporting, developing and encouraging those less advantaged. She does this with grace and an intense passion that focuses on removing barriers, creating opportunity, and promoting education. Her desire for the industry to level up as a whole is breathtaking, she is a tireless supporter of education and best practice. The modern British public relations sector is more diverse, better informed, and more professional. thanks to the energy and commitment of professionals like Sarah,” said Richard Bagnall, co-managing partner of CARMA International and Chair of international communications evaluation professional body AMEC.