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COMMENDEE 2020-21: COMMENDEE 2020-21: Brendan is Commended, as an Officer at HMP Coldingley, for his excellent jailcraft, unfaltering dedication, and selfless care and support for both prisoners and staff; as well as being “an absolute joy to work with”.

Brendan is described by his Initial Nominator, HMP Coldingley’s Head of Operations Stephen Murdy, as “enthusiastic, dependable and fair”. Among several examples he gives, Stephen cited Brendan’s outstanding personal support to a colleague who was having “great personal issues in his home life”, and who when he heard Stephen was nominating Brendan came to say that “without the support of his manager and Brendan, he was unable to cope with his personal issues and Brendan made it bearable to come to work.” Stephen calls Brendan “an officer who gives his time to listen, and though he cannot help with the situation he gives reassurance and hope, which is a great skill and I have heard many similar examples where Brendan has helped his colleagues as well as prisoners.”

Looking further back, Stephen recalls an incident in 2012 for which Brendan received a commendation from the Area Manager. “Brendan was courageous in his actions and took decisive actions stopping a prisoner stabbing another prisoner. Brendan without hesitation intervened into a large group of prisoners and managed to take control of the weapon and the assailant despite having repeated physical attacks upon him by other prisoners. Brendan managed to maintain control of the situation until he was supported by staff responding to the incident. The Area Manager at the time stated that Brendan’s actions represented the exemplary standard of conduct and by his actions prevented serious injury and threat to control and order of the establishment.”

Aside from his frontline work as a Prison Officer, Brendan has a longstanding track record, dating back to his earlier service in the armed forces, of taking part in charity events to raise funds. These include, as a prison officer, “a 24-hour badminton match, a parachute jump, the 3 peak challenge completed in 24 hours, the Isle of Wight cycle challenge, Northampton to HMP Coldingley bike challenge, various half mile marathons, a 100-mile run visiting various prisons, and a charity football match against a local radio station in Liverpool.”

Brendan has also volunteered for the laying of the wreath at The Cenotaph and “is so proud to represent the Prison Service.”

Coldingley’s Butler Trust Local Champion and fellow Band 3 Prison Officer Louisa Laven, sharing numerous testimonials from colleagues, notes that even after 30 years in the Prison Service, Brendan “is as keen and enthusiastic as the day he started,” and notes that he has “an excellent relationship with his colleagues and is well respected by those in our care.”  Louisa calls him “a truly valuable asset to absolutely any team. He is honest, dependable, and incredibly hard-working. Beyond that,” she adds, “he is an impressive chef who is always trying to feed his colleagues.”

Sumerdeep Bhogal, Custodial Manager and Brendan’s Line Manager, says “Brendan’s experience, knowledge, and expertise in his role as an officer is a huge asset to this establishment”, adding that “along with his undeniable talent, Brendan has always been an absolute joy to work with. He is a true team player, and always manages to foster positive discussions and bring the best out of other officers. He is able to present creative ideas and communicate the benefits of these ideas in order to get others on board,” concluding that “as a manager it is an absolute pleasure to manage Brendan.”

Louisa says that while “consistently going the extra mile for offenders,” Brendan “supports them through big moments in their lives – both positive and negative – and does everything he can to aid their rehabilitation journey. He has a great relationship and rapport with all the offenders that he has got to know, and they all sing his praises about what a lovely and jolly man he is.”

She praises his vast experience and “his genuine concern and care to reassure and listen to people through tough times. This is inclusive of everyone, not just the staff he is closer to. Any staff member in the prison would be comfortable going to Brendan with a problem and they would know he would help however he can.” She adds that “Brendan makes everyone laugh and is a true gentleman, respectful and kind to all. He is a hugely positive role model for all offenders and staff to learn from, to be a better person and bring out the best in other people.”

HMP Coldingley’s Governing Governor, Joanne Sims, says Brendan is “an exceptional prison officer”, and adds that the events of the current Covid-19 pandemic “have just further demonstrated the care, attention and dedication he shows in all areas of his life.” She says Brendan “serves the prison service with pride, is always smiling, is positive, a great role model and displays an impressive sense of duty to his colleagues and the men in our care.” Joanne concludes by calling Brendan “the very definition of a mentor and a role model and I wish we could replicate his attitude, as every establishment would benefit from having Brendan in their numbers.”

Brendan modestly attributes much of his approach to serving in the British Army for seven years, as “this experience made me aware of the importance of teamwork, being punctual, and prioritising. It has also instilled in me a sense of duty which forms the basis of my everyday life.” He concludes, again very modestly given the testimonials of his colleagues, “I am a long serving prison officer and this has given me the ability to empathise with and understand both offenders and my colleagues.”

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