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2016 Chamberlain Awards

A huge well done to all the winners and finalists in this year’s Chamberlain Awards which was held at the Great Hall of the University of Birmingham on 28 October.

Here are the winners…

Local Hero

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 local hero

L to R – Ian Ward, Danielle Baker, Eddie Fellows (Amey) & Nick Owen

WINNERS:  Housing Officer Danielle Baker and Place Manager Ruth Bowles scooped the only award of the night where the nominees are put forward by the public. The inspiring duo has so far raised £1,500 for charity – whilst involving local people, boosting staff morale and having fun.

The inventive pair has helped families affected by domestic abuse – and had teams running up and down high-rise blocks for Sport Relief, baking cakes to raise money for brain tumour research, and attending an extravagant Winter Ball in aid of St Mary’s Hospice.

Local resident Jenny Antill – who nominated them – said: “I’m so impressed – and love being involved!”


Cathy Spruce, Gail Conway and Liz Fearon, who teach deaf people. They offer huge support for families coming to terms with deafness. They were nominated by a parent who said they provided a lifeline at a time when they were feeling bereft with grief, confusion, sadness and a sense of loss.

John Porter – a parks manager for Sutton and Erdington – has been recognised as a local inspiration. He has an infectious passion for empowering communities – bringing people together, to do extraordinary things and bring about change. 


birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 leadership

L to R – Ian Ward, Carol Davies, Andy Argyle (KPMG) & Nick Owen

WINNER: Carol Davies – who heads up day care services for people needing specialist care.

Carol has dedicated her working life to supporting vulnerable adults – whilst encouraging her staff to develop themselves both professionally and personally.

She has a unique gift for communicating with people and making them feel valued.

Her heartfelt belief is that community-based service – and a person-centred approach – can change people’s lives. She is able to see people’s strengths and potential and then inspires them to achieve beyond their own expectations: whether they’re local people, carers – or her team.


Cheryl Smylie is passionate about the impact work experience can have on an unemployed person’s future. She’s worked with young people from the most disadvantaged parts of Birmingham to provide support and encouragement – as well as work plans to make them feel valued and welcome during placements with the council.

Multi-tasking is the name of the game for Martin Tolley. He’s helped resolve serious antisocial behaviour, deliver a £240 million housing improvement programme, and introduce energy efficiency measures in council housing – all whilst motivating, coaching and inspiring his team.

Communities and Inclusion

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 communities and inclusion

L to R- Mark Rogers,Pauline Chatt (Willmott Dixon), Lighthouse Young People’s Centre & Nick Owen

WINNER: Lighthouse Young People’s Centre.This category is designed to showcase work that helps community stability and cohesion, celebrates diversity, creates relationships, promotes volunteering, and supports people who are disadvantaged. The centre – which serves Aston and Lozells – offers a safe environment where young people from different backgrounds can learn to work together. The team tackles all the varied issues young people present them with – and never shies away from a difficult challenge. They also act swiftly to ensure young people are not at risk.


Big Birmingham Bike Project has contributed significantly to the council’s sustainable travel goals – tackling health and activity inequality at the same time. The team has provided 4,000 free bikes to residents in some of the most deprived areas of Birmingham – which has helped to transform many local people’s lives.

Public Health weekly ‘Health Matters’ show. Alongside Noor TV – a key information provider within Muslim communities – colleagues have created a unique partnership. The show focuses on public health messages specific to the Asian community. 

Unique Contribution to Birmingham

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 unique contribution to birmingham

L to R -Mark Rogers, Parveen Nar & Nick Owen

WINNER Parveen Nar – a Place Manager with the Antisocial Behaviour Partnership – didn’t even know she’d been nominated.

A worthy but modest winner, Parveen – who’s worked previously in child safeguarding – loves her job because she can make a difference. And she keeps the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged people at the centre of her approach.

Most recently, she’s helped pull together a multi-agency response to the problems caused by some rough sleepers. They have already got some entrenched rough sleepers into accommodation (with support plans in place); some have begun programmes to treat addictions; and some are working with mentors.

Collaboration and Partnership

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 collaboration and partnership

L to R- Mark Rogers Toby Terlet (Veolia),  Employment & Skills Services & Nick Owen

WINNER: Employment and Skills Services were recognised for joining forces to create a union ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.

Alongside public and private sector partners – and major construction companies – they’ve helped Birmingham residents gain skills, employment and apprenticeships. And – to help the construction sector to address skills shortages – they have developed a talent pool of appropriately-skilled and job-ready local people.

The partnerships’ inspiring work continues to go from success to success.


Sutton Park Team has met the epic challenge of clearing 150 years’ worth of unchecked holly. Work with a private contractor has seen the holly used for biofuel: literally, green energy. Huge, dinosaur-like machines have picked up whole trees – to clear a space as big as 50 football pitches. More than 5,000 tons of fuel has been produced: at no cost to the council!

HR supporting Waste Management to make ‘big shifts’ has meant collaboration and partnership working to recruit new refuse workers in a different way. This has included the use of social media to attract candidates, delivering open days across the city – and arranging assessment days, to ensure we have the right people with the right skills, values and behaviours.

Outstanding Customer Focus

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 outstanding customer focus

L to R- Mark Rogers, Funeral and Property Protection Officers, Damien Watts(Places for People) & Nick Owen

WINNER: Funeral and Property Protection Officers show thatno matter where you work – you can put customers first. They offer dignity in death for local people who have no one else.

Starting sometimes with just a name, address and cause of death, these dedicated officers visit the deceased’s home to gather information. They work with a family-tracing team to find loved ones – but, if they can’t, they’ll use the information found in the home to provide a dignified funeral, handled with respect and humanity. They also ensure properties are secured – even sometimes using volunteers gardeners from our Learning Disability Centres, so the houses still appear occupied.


Active Park Activators bring activities and opportunities into the heart of our communities using parks and public open spaces. All sessions are free, arranged with families in mind – and developed with local residents. This helps create community cohesion –and the social gatherings help make our communities friendlier places to live.

Shard End Place Management Team works innovatively and creatively to find new ways to tackle problems.  They bring resident representatives together with councillors and council officials to shape and deliver action plans that accurately reflect the needs and views of local people.  There is a real commitment on the part of the team to rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in and they are very well respected by the community and a real asset to the council.

Team of the Year

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 team of the year

L to R – Mark Rogers, Birmingham Control Centre & Nick Owen

WINNER: Birmingham Control Centre. This category’s winner is decided by council colleagues.

The control centre team monitors all public-facing CCTV across the city, even car parks – and puts extraordinary effort into helping people in frightening situations. They prevent crime, and even save lives. And they do this unwaveringly 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

They can witness harrowing scenes daily – yet act quickly to guide people to safety, and help to secure arrests. They also monitor events such as flooding, and direct highways response crews to the worst-hit areas.

They’ve worked in the background for many years – constantly exceeding expectations and delivering work that’s nationally accepted as ‘best practice’. 


The Preparation for Adulthood Team aims to bridge the gap between children’s and adult services. They make sure the transition for disabled young people between services is effective and as it should be, by planning to meet their needs. They focus on enablement and independence and reducing the need for multiple contacts and assessments.

The Birmingham Adult Education Service Pre-employment Team works tirelessly to put local people first. They give long-term unemployed residents an opportunity to retrain through short, intensive courses and ‘real work’ experience. They have really boosted learners’ confidence – and enabled up to 79 per cent of participants to get employment within six months of completing courses. 

Employee of the Year

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 employee of the year

L to R – Mark Rogers, Trevor Haynes (Acivico), Stephen Coope & Nick Owen

WINNER of the second award decided by council colleagues is Stephen Coope,

An assistant caretaker and cleaner at the Oakhill Centre in Harborne – but he’s always happy to go above and beyond, and help with jobs outside  his day-to-day duties.

Stephen is referred to as the quiet, unsung hero of the team by colleagues. They describe him fondly as a very special guy – and great example of what teamwork really means.

He’s redecorated the centre office in his own time, using his own tools – and he transports furniture around the city in his own car to save money buying new. 


Professional Support Officer Andrew Tolley takes on every challenge with enthusiasm. Ever polite, Andrew always goes the extra mile to make sure issues are resolved – and systems are in place to save time and money. Colleagues described him as an absolute super star, who’s a credit to the service.

Tracy Organ works as the lead coroner’s investigator. Tracy has played a key part in a new case management system, alongside investigating complex deaths. She’s described as hugely efficient – yet compassionate and caring when dealing with families. And, despite her challenging role, she’s remains cheerful, positive and approachable.

Unsung Heroes

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 unsung heroes

Birmingham City Council Choir

Every day, in every way, council colleagues are quietly going about their jobs, making sure people are safe and protected, and have access to services they need.  Whether its collecting our rubbish, caring for our older and most vulnerable people, looking after our children or looking after our parks, we know dedicated colleagues  are working hard to make a positive difference every day to people’s lives.

Some of the compliments paid to winners were shared along with a performance from the Birmingham City Council Choir.

The winners included:

  • Two Redfern depot waste management crews – for preventing a burglary and helping a woman who was being mugged
  • The Local Authority Challenge Team – for their role in this year’s challenge
  • Akbar Ali – for his services to Amey in addition to his work as a special police constable
  • Finance analyst Kasam Parkar – for efforts to raise Epilepsy awareness
  • Eunice McCall – for supporting the move to Stirchley baths and volunteering at the centre
  • Enforcement colleagues Bill Pegg and Dave Blakeman – for their work with travellers
  • Caroline Alexander – for her great financial diligence within the library service
  • The Northfield Centre – and their excellent homelessness prevention service
  • Customer Services staff – who’ve provided exceptional support

Special Recognition – Kevin Duffy

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 special recognition

L to R- Ian Ward, Maria Duffy & Nick Owen

This award is truly special in two ways. It recognises Kevin’s commitment, inspiration and many achievements – and it was awarded posthumously. Very sadly, Kevin passed away on 14 April.

Kevin’s career spanned more than 30 years in Birmingham libraries. He started out as a part-time library assistant at Druids Heath in 1985 – and progressed to Senior Service Manager responsible for all our community libraries.

He’s regarded as a pioneer and champion of community-focussed services.

His widow, Maria, accepted his richly-deserved award in his memory.

Next Generation

birmingham city council chamberlain awards 2016 next generation

L to R- Ian Ward, Next Generation & Nick Owen

This award celebrates the young people who, whilst taking their first steps on the career ladder, are making a huge impact on the life of the organisation.  These apprentices and interns were nominated by their managers, as they’ve made such an impression and achieved remarkable results:

  • Abi Watts
  • Katy Wright
  • Blaine Steede
  • Emily Corfield
  • Amanda Hart
  • Channa Payne-Williams
  • Tahbeer Pervez
  • Ellis Blake
  • Melissa Lowndes
  • Jasmin Samra

The evening was heralded as a great success – with a raffle raising £600 for the Lord Mayor’s Charities.