Presided over by HRH The Princess Royal since the Trust’s launch in 1985, the Annual Award Ceremony is the highlight of The Butler Trust’s year and a chance to celebrate the achievements of the inspirational people recognised through the Awards.
32nd Annual Award Ceremony
Hosted by HRH The Princess Royal at St James’s Palace in London, the Butler Trust’s Annual Award Ceremony took place on 9th March 2017.
The Princess presented 39 Butler Trust winners from across the United Kingdom with a total of 10 Awards and 19 Commendations. There was an impressive width and depth of expertise among the winners, including staff and volunteers from prison, probation, community, youth justice and related settings.
Almost as impressive were the many distinguished guests who had come to recognise the winners in particular, and more generally the enormous contribution made by those in the sector. Guests included the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, the Rt. Hon. Liz Truss MP, Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah MP, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, NOMS Chief Executive Michael Spurr, and the Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons (and Bishop of Rochester), the Rt. Rev. James Langstaff, among many others.
This year the Princess Royal’s Prize for Outstanding Achievement, the Trust’s highest Award, went to Bernadette Hare. She was described as “just amazing” for her outstanding skill and compassion in her work at HMP Bullingdon as a Prison Officer, where she has earned the respect and affection of the entire jail – and the BBC’s One Show did a feature on her shortly after the event; watch it here.
In her opening remarks, The Princess acknowledged that the Criminal Justice Sector has had a difficult year, but emphasised the importance of drawing attention to the inspirational work of people who rarely get the appreciation they are due. The Princess also highlighted the resilience, professionalism and dedication that characterise the sector.
Earlier in the day, the winners and their personal guests had gathered in the Marie Antoinette Room in The Ritz for coffee, before walking down to St. James’s Palace – built by Henry VIII and The Senior Palace of the Sovereign – for lunch in the State Apartments before the Ceremony.
Two former winners shared their experiences of the last year, and both highlighted the value of the Trust in helping them develop and share their good practice. Neil Barclay, a civilian librarian at HMP Thameside, who has gone on to secure a Churchill Travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, reminded winners that “events like this are memory makers – savour the moments as they go by so quickly!” Sarah Caden, a Practice Improvement Officer at County Durham YOS, enthused about her year, saying, “My work’s gone from strength to strength.” She then reminded the winners that they weren’t at the Ceremony by accident: “you’re here because you’ve done an exceptional job.”
“After a difficult period for the sector, we’re delighted again to highlight a truth those with deep ties in the field already know: remarkable work is done every day in every establishment. The people at the Award Ceremony are doing some of the best and most exciting work in Criminal Justice today. They range from pioneers to people whose sheer professionalism is a benchmark of excellence. All make a real difference in other people’s lives.
“It’s a credit to the sector that, every year, we get hundreds of high quality nominations. It’s also pleasing to have such a distinguished group of guests, whose presence at the Ceremony is an important mark of recognition, from the very highest levels, of the good work that people are doing. As ever, it’s particularly impressive to remember that a huge number of our nominations come from, or are directly supported by, offenders themselves. If anyone is likely to know and appreciate the real quality of the work being done in the sector on the front lines, it’s them.”
Johannes Penman of HMYOI Polmont described the day as “unbelievably mind-blowing”, and was particularly pleased to be surrounded by so many enthusiastic and impressive peers. “Everyone’s positive and like-minded,” he said.
“An exhilarating day” said Angela Murphy of Merseyside CRC, while her colleague Nicola Boughey, speaking in the magnificent splendour of the State Apartments just outside The Throne Room, called the event “the chance of a lifetime,” adding, “it’s nice to be recognised!” Geraldine Ryan agreed, calling it “a fantastic day from start to finish.”
Sofia Buncy, who has pioneered a ground-breaking community initiative for Muslim women prisoners, noted the importance of her Award and the event not only for herself – but for the wider community. “It’s encouraging for me, of course, but it will be encouraging for the community, too.”
Her remarks speak to the heart of the Butler Trust Awards: to acknowledge and encourage individuals for their work, but at the same time to help promote a broader awareness of the great pool of largely unsung excellence which is the core strength of the sector.
High res versions of the above images can be downloaded by clicking on the relevant image.
Pictures of this years winners receiving their Awards and Commendations can be downloaded here.