Grand Final 2017 Judges

Sarah Sands – Editor, The Evening Standard

Sarah Sands, Editor, The Evening Standard

Sarah Sands trained on The Sevenoaks Courier as a news reporter, before moving to the Evening Standard – initially as Editor of the Londoner’s Diary – and took further posts as Features Editor and Associate Editor.

She joined the Daily Telegraph in 1996 as Deputy Editor to assume responsibility later for the Saturday edition.

She was appointed the first female Editor of The Sunday Telegraph in 2005.

In 2006 she worked as Consultant Editor on the Daily Mail and in 2008, she became Editor-in-Chief of the UK edition of Reader’s Digest.  She was appointed Deputy Editor of the London Evening Standard in 2009 and became its Editor in 2012.

Nick Grimshaw, Radio 1 Breakfast Show

Nick Grimshaw, Radio 1 Breakfast Show DJ

Born in Oldham in 1984 Nick Grimshaw is the host of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show.

Nick’s first step into broadcasting was on student radio while studying Communications & Business Studies at the University of Liverpool. During his holidays he interned at a music PR agency working on regional radio promotion for the likes of The Killers and Depeche Mode. On graduation, Nick threw himself into the music industry, continuing to work as a radio plugger as well as taking on the new role of DJ promoter.

In 2006 Channel 4 spotted Nick and at the age of 22 he was signed up as a presenter for E4 Music and the Channel 4 morning show Freshly Squeezed. With his easy charm, pop culture knowledge and confidence in front of the camera he soon established himself as one of the UK’s hottest young talents.

Having cut his teeth in national broadcasting at Channel 4, Nick was next signed up by BBC2 where he co-hosted three series of their youth music show Sound, alongside Radio 1’s Annie Mac. Their chemistry proved a winner and Nick joined Annie on Radio 1 hosting the Sunday evening Switch youth strand – the show became a huge hit with listeners.

2008 saw Nick given his first solo Radio 1 show as host of the Weekend Breakfast Show. Then in 2009, he was offered the prestigious 10pm – midnight new music slot Mondays to Thursdays, which he presented for three years until taking over the reins of the station’s flagship Breakfast Show.

Nick’s TV career has grown alongside his radio work. 2014 marked Series 4 of his panel show “Sweat The Small Stuff” for BBC3. He has presented Radio 1’s Annual Switch Live / Teen Awards since 2009, co-presented the BBC’s Children In Need alongside Sir Terry Wogan and fronted numerous shows for Channel 4 including, The Mercury Music Awards, Style The Nation, NME Awards coverage, MTV’s Soundchain and Orange Rockcorps. He has also hosted Channel 4’s The Album Chart Show and co-presented T4.  On 16 June 2015, it was revealed that Grimshaw would join the twelfth series of The X Factor as a judge. He was selected to mentor the “Boys” category.


Sarah Crossan (Credit: Rolf Marriott)

Sarah Crossan, Author, Winner of the Carnegie Medal 2016

Sarah Crossan is originally from Dublin. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and literature before training as an English and drama teacher at Cambridge University. Sarah taught English at a small private school near New York until she became a full time writer. She lives in Hertfordshire with her family.

Sarah’s freeverse novel, One, is the winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the CBI Book of the Year Award and Children’s Choice Award, CLiPPA (Children’s Poetry Award) and the YA Book Prize. It was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards and the IBW Award. Sarah is also the author of The Weight of Water, Apple and Rain, Breathe and Resist.


Una Stubbs

Una Stubbs, Actress

Una is well-known by audiences young and old.  If you’re a fan of the BAFTA-winning TV series Sherlock, then you will have seen Una play Mrs Hudson, the landlady of 221B and 221C Baker Street which she lets out to Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson.

Una’s theatre credits are numerous, including: Les Liaisons Dangereurses (Donmar); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (National Theatre); Pygmalion (Bath & Old Vic); Pillars of the Community (National Theatre); Star Quality (Apollo Theatre); As You Like It (Sheffield Crucible & Lyric Hammersmith): Run for your Wife (Criterion); Little Malcolm and His Struggle against the Eunuchs and The Soldier’s Tale (both Young Vic).

On TV, Una has starred in: Sherlock, series 1-4; The Durrells; Midsomer Murders; Benidorm; EastEnders; Casualty; The Worst Witch; Heartbeat; In Sickness and in Health; Fawlty Towers; The Worst Witch; Worzel Gummidge; and ‘Till Death Us Do Part.


Tim Armoo, CEO Fanbytes

Tim Armoo, CEO, Fanbytes (Alumni Judge)

It’s probably unusual that at the age of 21 Timothy Armoo is already onto his third tech company but then again, the so called “millennial” generation likes to do things differently”

Timothy is the co-founder and CEO of Fanbytes, a company that makes brands go viral through mobile video on YouTube and Snapchat.  It markets to Generation Z (today’s teenagers) who you can’t reach in the old, traditional ways.  One of the keys to their success is Apolla, a platform built by a development team of 19-21 year olds, which uses machine-learning algorithms to display branded content in front of their young audiences.  Fanbytes works for some of the best-known brands in the world, including Adidas, GoPro, Nickelodeon and New Look.  Their success story has come to the attention of the media with coverage in The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Daily Mail and Forbes, to name but a few. 

Timothy Armoo went to City of London Academy in Southwark.  In 2011 he took part in Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! and became the Southwark Regional Finalist before competing in the Grand Final.  His speech was entitled “The Power of the Smile” and how it can help diffuse tensions in the world.          


Tina Renshaw, Chief Executive, English Speaking Board

Tina Renshaw, Chief Executive, English Speaking Board

Tina Renshaw joined English Speaking Board (International) Ltd. as Chief Executive in June 2016.  Tina took up the post after working for 13 years in Australia, eight of which were at one of the largest vocational education and training providers in the southern hemisphere, TAFE NSW.

After graduating from Oxford University, her UK career saw her perform in a range of educational arenas; teaching in comprehensive schools in Kent and East Sussex, working in Oxfordshire LEA and managing a national teacher recruitment campaign.

Tina believes that helping learners to develop excellent communication skills gives them the necessary tools to pursue an enriched life with great opportunities.

English Speaking Board (International) Ltd. is a national awarding body with a mission to promote clear, effective communication at all levels by providing high quality products and services domestically and internationally, recognising and encouraging the potential of all.


Ajaye McDonald

Ajaye McDonald, Current “Speak Out” Challenge! Champion

I was a student who barely qualified to go on to the Regional Final but after I did, I worked hard with the help of the trainers and teachers to become someone worthy of the opportunity that had been given to me. Finally, I had my speech. A speech that in my opinion was a little “cheesy” and nothing special. In fact, it was a tiny bit too long but despite my doubts I performed my speech to the best of my current ability at the time, and with my family in the crowd to support me I would have no regrets if I didn’t win but I won! Furthermore, I was selected for the Grand Final competition. I was ecstatic as were my entire school and family because I was the first student from Bishop Justus to win the Regional Final, let alone go to the Grand Final.

From there me and the other students who qualified were offered even more help from the high-quality trainers. They offered us workshops to help us work on our timing, our pauses, our confidence, our message and many more things because their goal was to make sure that our speeches reached their absolute full potential. The fact that there were people in this world, so dedicated to making the voices of youth heard was more motivational to me than anything else.

The skills I learnt from the Grand Final workshop are now an essential part of my everyday life and I will never forget them. As I stood on that stage and attempted to apply everything I had learnt up on to this point, I remember all the nerves falling away. I was prepared. I was ready. I was happy to spread my message with all my heart to anyone who would do me the honour of listening and it was all thanks to the people who supported me through my journey. My family, friends, teachers, trainers and even the other competitors who are now also my closest friends.


For information on our Grand Final judges from 2016 click here