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With pic (L to R) Alex Turner, managing director, Martin Powell, Empic

Wraxall businessman, author, newshound and PR guru Martin Powell has won a top award.

The executive chairman of Empica public relations agency based at The Courtyard, Wraxall Hill, Martin received his award for leadership at the inaugural South West Leadership Awards 2024.

Martin founded Empica in 1989 and has led the business for 35 years, establishing it as one of the best-known public relations agencies in the region.

The award for leader in the category for a business with ‘up to 100 employees’ was presented to Martin by editor Michael Ribbeck.

Judges included Bristol’s Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding; Alan Bailey of Future Leap; Clive Hetherington, former regional director of Lloyds Bank, and David Lamb chairman of Nonwovenn.

Martin said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this accolade and to find that I was nominated by those who work with me at Empica.

"I’ve always felt more comfortable as a 'leader' rather than a 'manager', although all roles in business are important.

“Of course, good leaders must have a great team with them – and at Empica we certainly have that.

"It was great to be named in the inaugural awards.

"Well done and Michael Ribbeck for such a well-organised new event that I hope will become part of the Bristol business calendar.

“To be in the company of Bristol business leaders, such as Louise Mitchell CBE who deservedly won the top award for her role at the Beacon, was an honour.”

The judges said: “Under Martin's leadership, Empica has thrived, becoming a prominent player in the PR industry.

"His strategic vision and commitment to excellence have propelled the company to new heights, earning the respect and admiration of colleagues and competitors alike.”

It was Martin who collaborated with Louise Brown to write the story of her birth.

At 11.47pm on July 25, 1978, she became the first person ever to be born through science rather than as the result of two people having sex.

The best seller first published in 2015 went worldwide, even being translated into Mandarin!

It tells about the birth which was hailed as a miracle by the world’s media made her instantly famous and accompanied by Martin they went on a book tour.

Her birth created shockwaves for the church, politicians and the medical profession.

Louise grew up at the centre of the debate about the morality of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) while also being a beacon of hope to millions of childless couples throughout the world.

For the first time Louise tells the story of her world-changing birth and its impact on her life.

'There aren't many people that can say they were world famous within hours of being born' she said.

The book by Martin about Louise is the basis for a film called Superbabe, being made through Benedict Cumberbatch's production company SunnyMarch and BBC Films, with the screenplay by Belfast screenwriter Stacey Gregg.

A play about the science that led to Louise's birth opens at the Bristol Old Vic  from Wednesday to Saturday, June 5 - July 6.

A Child of Science tells the pioneering story of Robert Edwards, Patrick Steptoe and Jean Purdy’s creation of IVF, and the army of women whose bravery helped them achieve the impossible.

Netflix has also announced it will release a film, called Joy, later this year about the beginnings of IVF, starring Bill Nigh and Happy Valley star James Norton.
Tickets from £10 here


Martin's moment in spotlight

Martin also wrote Maid of The Haystack (Bristol Books), an historical novel based on true events in the 18th century when a mysterious woman sat in a haystack near Flax Bourton for four years prompting a European conspiracy theory.

Nailsea People reviewed Martin's book Maid Of The Haystack HERE.

In his heydays in journalism his assignments included reporting from the House of Lords; Old Bailey Trials; Ascension Island in the Falklands War and major news events of the 1980s.

Specialisms included politics, local government and transport and regular columns on the subject of beer, the sport of bowls and video releases.

Martin spent decades passing on his knowledge giving media training for major corporates, individuals and for MBA students at Ashridge Management Training College.

And as well as launching Empica he is one of four founding directors of Bristol Books CIC, a not-for-profit community interest company with the aim of enriching the culture of Bristol through books.

Martin project managed Under The Microscope in 2022 with Elizabeth Carr, the first US IVF baby, writing sections of the book.His other writings include being co-author of the biography Harry Dolman (2017), co-author of Bristol The Growing City (1986); Contributor to Football Crazy (1996), author of Power From Dartmoor (1996).

Carol Ann Deacon

PHOTO: From left managing director Alex Turner, Martin Powell, of Empica, and south west editor Michael Ribbeck who presented the award at a gala dinner held in Bristol


THE CHILD: Louise Brown visits the Bristol Old Vic to meet A Child of Science cast and producers

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