South West PR consultant wins the UK’s top industry award

By Anita Jaynes on 3 July, 2023

The founder of Second Mountain, a Wiltshire-based, purpose-driven communication consultancy established during the 2020 pandemic, has been named the top independent PR practitioner in the UK by the world’s only Royal Chartered body for public relations professionals.

Ben Veal, Chartered PR Practitioner and Director of Second Mountain Comms, won the highly-prestigious ‘Independent PR Practitioner of the Year’ award at the 2023 Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Excellence Awards, held at the Royal Lancaster London and hosted by actress and comedian Lucy Porter.

The award recognises the contribution that individual PR practitioners make to the overall industry, delivering enviable results for clients during challenging economic times. As a two-time winner in the same category at the CIPR South of England & Channel Islands PRide Awards and recipient of the ‘Mark of Excellence’ in 2022, receiving this national recognition marks the culmination of a journey of reinvention post-redundancy for Ben.

Ben Veal Chart.PR MCIPR, Founder and Director of Second Mountain, said, “Being named ‘Independent PR Practitioner of the Year’ by the CIPR – not just regionally, but for the whole of the UK – is truly unbelievable. It’s the pinnacle of my career in comms and validates the path I have chosen to pursue over these last three years. Since losing my job at the beginning of the pandemic, I have reignited my approach to work on my own terms by putting ‘purpose’ at the heart all of I do; it’s been so liberating to channel my creative and professional energy into supporting charities, not-for-profits and philanthropic business leaders through meaningful PR, content and strategic comms as a trusted partner. This is an incredible honour and one I’m immensely proud of; I only wish my father had been able to see me win it. This award is dedicated in loving memory of my dad.”

Ben with his late father, Andrew Veal

Unable to accept the prestigious award in person at the London ceremony due to its timing falling so closely after the sudden death of his father in June, the win is especially significant – both professionally and personally – for Ben.

Ben, added, “My late father, Andrew Veal, lived his life in the service of others. Whether it was his voluntary work, his relationships with his family or as part of the local community, he quietly, in his own way, looked to help others with acts both big and small. The foundation that he laid in my life has helped to shape and pave the way for how I now work. His legacy will live on in Second Mountain.” 

Founded in August 2020, Second Mountain Comms has supported over 20 clients in both a paid and pro-bono capacity over the last three years, across the UK as well as internationally, reaching as far afield as the US and Australia. Based at the Glove Factory Studios creative hub in Holt near Bradford on Avon, Ben specialises in supporting charities, not-for-profits and purpose-driven business leaders; his driving aim is to help good people do good.

The CIPR’s panel of judges commented, “Ben is an inspirational practitioner, having built his business around a clear proposition in which he ‘doubles down’ on purpose – an approach which has governed not just the way he works but also the clients he chooses to support. He has built on his knowledge of the third sector to deliver a compelling communications offering and is clearly a trusted practitioner given his involvement as a trustee to charities he is passionate about. Ben has a clear business strategy and shares his expertise with other CIPR practitioners through his work on the CIPR Council and as chair of the South West group.”

Going beyond comms, Second Mountain Comms is now also directly engaging a global audience via its Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast series, hosted by Ben. 18 candid, thought-provoking and inspiring conversations have been published via Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music since launching last summer. Guests have included social mobility campaigner Sarah Waddington CBE; bestselling autistic author Pete Wharmby; mental health advocate Kris Hall, founder of The Burnt Chef Project; globally-recognised sports entertainers Nick Aldis, Stevie Richards and Matt Cardona; and popular children’s author Rachel Bright. The podcast aims to share inspiring stories from inspiring people, and Ben’s regular commitment to producing dynamic, valuable content contributed towards this national CIPR recognition.

The CIPR’s judges added, “As an ex-journalist, Ben understands the value of good content and has developed a successful podcast to drive his growth plan. Ben’s passion for his work and ability to inspire other practitioners is what sets him apart from his peers.”

CIPR President Steve Shepperson-Smith Chart. PR, FCIPR, said, “Public relations, at its best, is an industry that has a positive impact on society, helping deliver effective, ethical, two-way communications that genuinely help audiences. Our industry has a strong future in the hands of innovative and insightful individuals able to deliver an extraordinary standard of work.”

The full list of CIPR 2023 Excellence Awards winners is now online.