Kate Birch, The Highland Council's Children's Services Manager for Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey, has been chosen at the Council's Employee of the year. She received her prize at the Council's annual Quality Awards, held at the North Highland College, Thurso, on Monday night.
Kate was nominated by Harriet Dempster, Director of Social Work Services.
Kate has worked in social work services in the Highlands for the past 24 years, mostly helping vulnerable children, children in need and looked after children to ensure they get the best start in life and to promote the best possible outcome.
Harriet said: "Kate is always positive, leading with a 'can do' attitude. This conveys both confidence and instils loyalty. Kate has high standards and is fiercely proud the hard work and achievements of her staff. She is quick and responsive in her recognition of their efforts and conveys in no uncertain terms the high value she places on their commitment and contribution."
Short-listed for Employee of the Year were Robert Banks, janitor at North Primary School, Wick, and Alf Leslie, senior energy inspector with the Council's Housing and Property Service.
Three members of staff received awards for being commended by their Community Council for special recognition. They were: Janette Douglas, a youth development officer who is based at the Community Wing at Alness Academy; Alistair MacLeod, a genealogist at Inverness; and Steven Urquhart, street cleaner in Tain.
Team of the Year went to Nairn Academy, who were the first Scottish school to take part in a Dreams and Teams Initiative by visiting Malawi in June.
Trainee of the Year was Duncan Winston, a third year joinery apprentice from Tain, who works for Housing and Property in Sutherland.
Innovation of the Year went to Getting It Right for Every Child, a pathfinder for the Scottish Government to redesign children's services by reducing bureaucracy and promoting an integrated approach to getting it right for every child.
The full list of winners is:
- Category 1 Service Improvement to Meet Customer Needs: Alness Academy First Year Transition Partnership Trip - Education Culture and Sport
- Category 2 Efficiency and Innovation: Council Landbank Fund/Highland Housing Alliance - Housing and Property Service
- Category 3 Citizen Health, Safety and Wellbeing: Ross & Cromarty Bluelight Partnership - Chief Executive's; Education Culture and Sport and Housing and Property
- Category 4 Community Engagement & Local Democracy: A Picture Paints a Thousand Words - Youth Engagement Project at Glen Urquhart - Planning and Development Service
- Category 5 Clean Environment and Sustainable Communities: Culbokie Three Bin Waste Collection Trial - TEC Services
- Category 6 Joint Service Delivery: Highland Housing Register - Housing and Property
Chairman's Award: Highland Youth Convener - Education Culture and Sport
Employee of the Year: Kate Birch, Children's Services Manager, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
Also short-listed were: Robert Banks, Janitor, Wick North Primary School - nominated by Dennis Lundie, Head Teacher, Wick North Primary School; and Alf Leslie, Senior Energy Inspector, Housing and Property, Inverness - nominated by Eddie Boyd, Principal Engineer (Energy and Engineering), Housing and Property Service.
Trainee of the Year - Duncan Winston, Tain, apprentice joiner, Housing and Property Services, Tain
Innovation of the Year - Getting it Right For Every Child - Bill Alexander and Marj Stewart, Social Work Service
Team of the Year - Dreams and Teams at Nairn Academy - Douglas Simpson, head teacher, Nairn Academy
Community Council Commendations: Winners