Over one hundred women from across Bedfordshire, and their partners and colleagues, attended the celebration, held at the Kings House, Bedford, to congratulate 31 finalists who were nominated for their hard work and ten women who received awards in recognition of their outstanding achievements. These included the Volunteer of the Year, Young Person of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award (full list detailed below).
“The fact that there was a need to celebrate these outstanding women publicly and that this has not been happening in Bedfordshire was underlined for me by the sheer number of nominations for these awards and the length of testimonials which ran to an incredible 7,000 pages in total. It meant that anyone who was shortlisted, let alone won, had genuinely been recognised as absolutely outstanding in their field of public service, whether working for the police and other blue lights, in health, education, local authorities or businesses and charities,” said Commissioner Holloway.
“While I wanted to provide a real afternoon of celebration in a fantastic setting, over an afternoon tea to remember, what I really wanted to achieve from the event was a lasting legacy, linking these incredible women together through the launch of a Bedfordshire Women’s Network, to be consulted by my office and Bedfordshire Police over future policy, whether over Domestic Abuse or Serious Youth Violence or achievable ways to improve policing of their communities as examples, and to give them a platform to informally share their valuable viewpoints, to network and support one another and that’s just what we’ve done,” said the PCC.
The event – “100 Women who make Bedfordshire Safer” - recognised award-winners from across Bedfordshire’s many communities. The Lifetime Achievement Award rewarded an individual with a long history of exceptional work to make her community safer and went to Bedford’s Cllr. Colleen Atkins.
PCC Holloway said, “The judges deliberated long and hard over the shortlisted nominees saying that all the shortlisted applications were genuinely worthy lifetime achievers but the majority of the panel, including me, had personal experience of working with Colleen and seeing her burning the midnight oil and delivering a level of public service above and beyond what has been expected of her in her professional roles, whether as a Community Safety Lead or Chair of the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Time and time again I have seen Colleen at events wherever I go in the county!”
On receiving her award, Colleen said: “I am overwhelmed to have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Kathryn. It was a lovely surprise and a great honour, especially after hearing there were 7,000 pages of submissions! Thank you to Kathryn for her excellent initiative in setting up the Awards to recognise women safeguarding Bedfordshire and to mark 100 years of women getting the vote. It was a very touching hearing the inspirational stories of the different ways women are making our county safer with their dedication and remarkable commitment. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this event brilliant – and for my Award!”
Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Paul Cain said: “I thought it was a fabulous event and I was delighted and honoured to be invited. I really do hope this turns into an annual event celebrating the wonderful hard-working women we are so lucky to have in Bedfordshire. It was wonderful to be able to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Colleen Atkins, who was on the very first Police and Crime Panel with me back in 2012.”
The coveted Woman of the Year Award went to Supt. Juliette Everette of Bedfordshire Police for her dedication to the county’s current campaign against knife crime and for the way she has encouraged and inspired generations of new police recruits.
“I’m so incredibly proud and wasn’t expecting this at all. I am so passionate about what I do as a day job. I absolutely love being a police officer and I’m totally committed to making Bedfordshire a much safer place. Thank you so much for this award,” said Supt. Everette.
For women working around the county with young people, the Young Persons' Award recognised an individual or team who had worked with young people by either educating or supporting them with a view to making them safer. The winner, Hayley Mills, set up and runs the Bedford Borough Youth Cabinet which is made up of young people from every school in the area and from community groups who come together to influence decisions and change things for others like them.
“I would just like to say thank you for everyone involved in the awards, from the person who nominated me, to the team who organised it, through to the PCC and presenters. It was a lovely event and very inspirational. As for winning the award, I am still in shock! Working with children and young people is such a privilege; watching their journey and seeing them grow in confidence and self-esteem is the hugest honour. It is lovely to be win an award. I must however share this with my amazing team and of course the children and young people who make going to work enjoyable and rewarding,” said Hayley Mills.
Also attending the celebration was the Governor of HMP Bedford, Helen Clayton-Hoare, who said, “My thanks to the PCC for hosting what was an inspirational event. It was a true celebration of the part that women play in making Bedfordshire a safer place. I am very pleased to be part of the new women’s network for Bedfordshire.”
Among the award winners was her member of staff Liz Walker, who won the Offender Rehabilitation award, after being nominated by her boss, for her work with staff to rebuild the prison team after disorder caused it to close temporarily.
During the event, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Chief Executive Clare Kelly, Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire and Head of Continuous Improvement, Audrey Campbell, helped Commissioner Holloway to launch the Bedfordshire Women’s Network (BWN), with Mrs Kelly and Mrs Campbell as the founding chairs of the new networking group.
“We were thrilled with how many people wanted to become part of the Women’s Network and are really looking forward to supporting, working with and celebrating the women of Bedfordshire as the network grows,” said Clare Kelly and Audrey Campbell.
Bedfordshire Police’s ACC Jackie Sebire, told the audience how delighted she was at the creation of the network and of her earlier experiences in policing, including being asked to make the tea in groups when she was the only woman present, even when working as a Detective Inspector on the homicide team in one of the most demanding policing areas in the Metropolitan Police.
“There are so many talented women working in Bedfordshire and having a network where we can inspire and support one another will provide such an opportunity for us to develop and learn from one another. So much has improved for women in the workplace however we can never be complacent and those of us who have been successful have a responsibility to support and share our experiences with those who are starting their journey in the working world,” said ACC Sebire.
Anyone wishing to be part of the Bedfordshire Women’s Network can join BWN by emailing Clare.Kelly@Bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk.
“This afternoon event and the legacy it will create through the BWN are one of the absolute highlights to me of my time in the role as PCC so far. It brought together women who did not know one another from across both communities and organisations and I saw and heard them networking for myself as I sincerely hope will be the case long into the future. We talk a lot about joint-working to improve public service but to do that we have to know one another exists and know one another as people and that’s just what this event, ultimately, was all about,” said Commissioner Holloway.
Please see below for the full list of awards and winners:-
Volunteer of the Year Award
Winner – Lorna Markland
The final judging panel commented on the person who has been recognised in this category with the following statement “the nomination of this person outlined how this lady has become a lynch pin putting the fight against knives and guns as a priority, and for this reason she is a very worthy winner.”
Young Person of the Year Award
Winner – Hayley Mills
Comments from the judges about the chosen winner included: “this person is someone who is working with all to engage at a particularly difficult level; the awards process itself has made the PCC aware of the work being done by this lady and the Youth Council which was described as the future.”
Health Carer of the Year Award
Winner – Karen Patchett
This was said to be one of the most difficult decisions to make by the judging panel who recognised the contributions of all nominees including the work of the Mental Health Street Triage which was described as invaluable.
It is fair to say that the judges were entirely split on their decision, but eventually agreed that the person to recognize today was an unsung hero who should be congratulated for her work in establishing and highlighting the work of other services less well known.”
Offender Rehabilitation Award
Winner – Liz Walker
Commenting on the work of this category winner the judges said: “In difficult circumstances this person has brought about change to enable offenders to rehabilitate from prison to civilian life and to help reduce reoffending. Her work should be recognised and congratulated.”
Community Group Award
Winner – MARA
The final judging panel commented on this group: “they may not be as well-known as some of the other nominees in this category, but are trying from within their community to make a difference. The future of Midland Road is a priority of the PCC and as a panel we believe they are the deserved winners of this award.”
Blue Light Award
Winner – PCSO Nadine Mee
Referring to the outstanding work of this person the judging panel said: “she is building a bridge of confidence across all communities, and should be recognised for going above and beyond making a difference in Luton and is an outstanding PCSO.”
Victims' Services Award
Winner – Wendie Harvey
Comments made during the final judging process included: “this lady shows on-going commitment to victims which she has done over a lifetime; inspiring others to do the same over so many years. In fact, if she were a serving police officer we would be awarding her a long service medal too!”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner – Colleen Atkins MBE
The judges deliberated long and hard over the shortlisted nominees saying “all applications were worthy lifetime achievers. But, the majority of the panel (who have had personal experience of this lady burning the midnight oil and going above and beyond what is expected of her time and time again).
Winner – Leanne Gearing
For this category the judges said that all nominees had shown great courage and dedication.
However, after much deliberation, they have chosen a winner and said about her:
“There is no doubt that this person has had multiple hurdles to overcome in her life. She has emerged from the darkness in to the light to help others.”
Woman of the Year Award
Winner – Superintendent Juliette Everett
“The prevention of knife crime is sadly, a priority for Bedfordshire Police and because of tireless work in the county as a whole we have managed to retain a lower rise of this specific crime type than many other areas across our Country.