Dennis Holmes and I had the pleasure of co-presenting the Adult Social Care Staff Awards for Excellence 2013 this week in the Banqueting Suite at the Civic Hall. From my perspective it was a truly inspiring and enjoyable afternoon, and from the response of those in the room, I think that feeling was felt by everyone who attended.
A key aim of the event was to say thank you to staff from across the directorate for the dedication and hard work, which often goes unrecognised. Although as Dennis reminded us all at the beginning, despite the difficult times we face and the challenging conditions staff sometimes face, the service receives many, many compliments from people who have been supported.
It was also great to see before the award ceremony started, how people used the opportunity to catch up with colleagues, who due to the size of the organisation and everyone’s busy work lives, they had not spoken to in some time.
So the twelve categories for the awards were: Working as a team for Leeds, Open Honest and Trusted, Working with Communities, Treating People Fairly, Spending Money Wisely, Making a Difference, Partner of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Team Achievement of the Year, Personal Achievement, Leader of the Year, and Colleague of the Year. All categories had lots of nominations and it was touching to read the lovely comments from those who had made the nominations about their hard working colleagues.
I would love to be able to write here about all the winners but I will, if I may pick out a couple. There were fourteen nominations for the award for Personal Achievement, an award for the individual who showed outstanding commitment to succeed and achieve goals against the odds.
The winner of the 2013 Personal Achievement award certainly made an impression on the audience when she proudly walked up to receive her award. She wasn’t (and quite understandably) that bothered about a handshake with me or Dennis but strode boldly up to have her photograph taken with her award. Caroline Hezelgrove, who has learning disabilities, works at Potternewton Fulfilling Lives as a kitchen assistant. She’s great at her job, is very hard working and very rarely off sick and is always willing to cover for colleagues. Her colleagues describe her as an inspiration to many and it was easy to see that would be the case. Well done Caroline.
The final award of the afternoon was for colleague of the year and I have to say it was certainly the most moving. The winner was Britta Ofori-Kuragu, a support leader in the learning disability service and the story of her nomination was both tragic and inspiring. Britta and her colleague, Mandy Knight, were doing what they always did, supporting one of their service users, on this occasion to do the weekly shop. Mandy collapsed in the street with what turned out to be a brain haemorrhage. Britta, finding an inner strength, calmly took charge of the situation, calling 999 whilst all the time making sure Mandy, a friend as well as a colleague, was kept as comfortable as possible until the ambulance arrived. Tragically, Mandy died later in hospital, but Britta’s actions meant that Mandy’s family had valuable time to spend with her until she passed away. It must have been a horrendous time for Britta, for Mandy and her family and an absolute tragedy that a life was so cruelly cut short. Mandy was a few days from her 42nd birthday. It was immensely moving therefore, that Mandy’s son James came to the awards ceremony and came up with Britta, to receive the award. He said he was very grateful for the invite and for the award for Britta. Everyone in the room was moved by this award and there were more than a few tears.
And that’s what these awards are all about. Adult Social Care staff doing what they do, caring for thousands of people in Leeds every year. To everyone, whether you were nominated or not, thank you for the work you do day in and day out. To those who were nominated by a colleague a very big well done. And to the winners, many congratulations!
So if you have a colleague who you think deserves to have their work recognised over the next year, please do nominate them for the Adult Social Care Staff Awards 2014.