Policy Press celebrates 20 years of publishing with a purpose…..in style!

Policy Press officially celebrated our 20th Anniversary of ‘publishing with a purpose’ on Wednesday 22nd June with a party at Goldney Hall, University of Bristol. It was a wonderful evening at which we were joined by authors, staff, and supporters – both past and present. 


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With special thanks to Ruth Harrison, Victoria Pittman and Julia Mortimer for the photographs of the evening.

We were thrilled to have a number of people speaking at the event including Professor Hugh Brady, Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, Professor Paddy Ireland, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Law, Professor Danny Dorling at the University of Oxford, a long- time author of Policy Press and Professor Randall Smith, Senior Research Fellow, School for Policy Studies, on behalf of the British Society of Gerontology.

Director and founder Alison Shaw was thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to thank so many people who have supported us along the way and, especially for the benefit of those who weren’t able to attend, we thought we’d share her speech with you all here….

Alison Shaw

Director and founder of Policy Press, Alison Shaw, gives thanks to all the people who have been part of the Policy Press journey

“Now, I’m going to have to ask you to bear with me as I rarely get the chance to publicly thank people who have helped create and sustain Policy Press and now is my chance.

Given that the University didn’t really ever ask me to establish a university press they have been remarkably tolerant of letting me do so. … My first thanks therefore are to my Heads of Department at the precursor to Policy Press, SAUS Publications, Professors Murray Stewart, Julian Le Grand, Randall Smith and Martin Boddy, and particularly to Professors Malcolm Johnson and Richard Hodder-Williams who had faith in our initial plan to establish Policy Press and let me give it a go.

Since then we have had the pleasure to work with six very supportive Deans over the 20 years – Professors Patricia Broadfoot, Harriet Bradley, Malcolm Evans, Judith Squires, Wendy Larner and Paddy Ireland and I am so pleased to see so many of you here today.

Of course without our authors, editors and reviewers we could not publish anything – it is amazing that we have worked with such a range of extraordinary people all trying to make a difference to how we understand our social world and also trying to improve people’s lives on a practical level, especially those who are less privileges than ourselves. So particular thanks to them, and to all those that have joined us today, because we genuinely would not be here without you.

Our Business Advisory Board also plays a crucial role in supporting, monitoring and advising The Press. David Lloyd, has been on our Board since the start, and taught me not to present 30 pages of intricate spreadsheets to busy people, and so deserves special thanks! Also John Skelton, Ivon Asquith, Malcolm Evans and Tim Rose have been invaluable and shown a great belief in what we are trying to achieve.

Publishing is a complex, global business and is dependent on many people and companies who provide core services across marketing, sales, distribution design, print and digital and I’d like to recognize the excellent contribution of our 100 or so suppliers and the great professional services support we receive at the University.

Last year our books and journals were bought and downloaded in over 100 countries and this is only possible with the fantastic support we receive from our book and journal vendors to get our products in the hands of our readers.

Crucially our staff, interns, freelancers and consultants are fundamental to our success. I know people often say their team is special, but ours really is, and to see so many of our previous colleagues back today is wonderful. The glowing feedback we get from authors, partners and readers is because of that team past and present. They always put authors and customers first, and provide the best service they can. They also totally believe in our social as well as scholarly mission to make a difference – and they live it – rarely a week goes by when there is not a cake sale for our chosen charity (we have a lot of very good bakers) or plans for a social media campaign to raise awareness of a social issue. I am always thrilled when people say ‘I’ll never work anywhere as nice as PP’ – what an accolade to a special group of people.

From the team I have to say particular thanks to Julia Mortimer our Assistant Director, Dawn Rushen, our previous Editorial Manager and now stalwart freelancer project manager and editor, and Dave Worth our Production Manager, as they have continued to work with me since the SAUS Publication Days – and for that they definitely need a medal!

The combination of publishing, working in academia and trying to impact social change has turned out to be my perfect job and I am extremely thankful for having been given the opportunity to build PP with such a wonderful team. Independent scholarly publishing is a fascinating, important and immensely collegiate industry to be in – and I’m grateful to our many publishing colleagues who have helped me along the way and are here today to help us celebrate.

All this thanking is a bit like a wedding … and in that vein my final thanks has to be to Richard, my patient, supportive husband and partner – we actually got married here at Goldney 25 years ago – and our two wonderful sons Paul and Tom – all of whom have put up with my work obsession and surprisingly still talk to me.

The team and I, are tremendously proud to have won the Independent Publisher of the Year award which recognizes the excellent books that we have had the privilege to publish and that have had a real influence beyond, as well as within, academia. We would never have believed this was possible 20 years ago sitting in our basement office with our one journal, one book and a handful of reports.

Given the current political climate and the real suffering that is taking place amongst very vulnerable people, here and around the world, it is ever more important than that we continue to publish our work.

And so I look forward to another great 20 years of trying to make a difference – although it won’t be me standing here as I’d be 74 and I think I might need a bit of a rest before then!

Thank you for joining our celebration and enjoy the rest of the party.”

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