Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
AWARD WINNER 2021-22: Nominated as a Custodial Manager at HMP/YOI Hatfield, after 40 years in the Service, Les’s Award is for his remarkable and unfailing commitment to rehabilitation and resettlement, his outstanding support for prisoners and staff, and his “enthusiasm, drive and determination, [which] knows no bounds”.
[This Award is supported by Sodexo Justice Services.]
‘Every prison should have a Les’
Les, says nominator Emma Robinson, “is an inspiration to all. His enthusiasm, commitment, drive and determination knows no bounds and has never faded.” He’s made a difference to the lives of thousands of prisoners, not least securing hundreds of paid employment opportunities with major employers.
Today, he’s still bringing his passion for prisoners to make better lives for themselves to his work, still giving advice and supporting charities, and still a legend leading many activities across Hatfield life.
Neil Moore, his former Deputy Governor, says:
“Les is the ‘go to’ person. Always willing to help, support, mentor and advise staff and prisoners. Never have I worked with a more consistent and willing colleague. Les is the hardest working, most motivated, charismatic, reliable and honest member of staff I know. Les is confident but always willing to learn. His loyalty, commitment, passion and enthusiasm knows no bounds. He epitomises every aspect of the Prison Service core values, aims and objectives, and is particularly strong on equality, decency and support.”
Liz Whittaker, Head of Business Assurance, says “HMP Hatfield would not be the place it is without Les. Every prison needs a Les. Someone who embraces change, is willing to have a go, and puts a prisoner’s best interests at the heart of his decision-making. He works collaboratively with prisoners and staff to bring out the best in everything he does. He’s never one to make a fuss and he gets a quality job done.” She adds that “his tireless attitude and endeavours have helped many men leave Hatfield with full time employment, with improved self-esteem, and with a different outlook on their future.”
As you might expect, the enthusiasm Les has shines through in his own words, too:
“I love my job now just as much as I did when I first started all those years ago. Coming to work and giving prisoners support and a sense of direction gives me great job satisfaction. My time at Hatfield has been the highlight of my career, as it’s provided me with a real opportunity to make differences in prisoners lives. I love where I work, I love the banter, the environment, and working as one big team.
To be able to have a genuine impact on prisoners lives you need to be credible and supportive for them to have confidence in you. This is why I love getting involved in all the staff/prisoner events. It’s an opportunity for prisoners to see beyond the white shirt and see the ‘human’ side of you. I have no issues in prisoners laughing at my poor welly-throwing ability – getting involved in the tug-of-war and wellbeing events is a great way of building relationships. Through laughter and care, positive relationships and trust can be built, which is vitally important. Making a difference in prisoners’ lives is what it is all about and is what has always motivated me throughout my career.”
Typically, he responded to COVID with a fun run, raising money for a local hospital. “You will always find Les the first to volunteer at wellbeing days”, says Emma. “Les will pave the way at events, whether that’s welly-wanging or tug-of-war. His “we’re in this together” ethos gets the best out of people and this jovial side appeals to prisoners and staff alike.”
The positive respect of prisoners comes through, too. “Mr Egan always treated me with respect, compassion and was non-judgemental,” says one. Another adds that “if there’s a job that needs doing, Les is your man. He helped me get a job and it the first one I’ve kept. Always helpful and says it how it is.”
Governor Mick Mills runs down some of things Les has brought to his decades of service and to Hatfield: “Hundreds of employment opportunities offering real hope for the future”, sound advice to prisoners, their families, and to staff. Les, he says, has “taken so many of them under his wing over the years”. Then there’s the fundraising and, more recently, “personally supporting positive COVID patients despite his own age.” Les led his team through COVID, says Mick, with his characteristic “tireless commitment to go that extra mile – or two if required”. The Governor calls Les “truly commendable”, praises his “outstanding enthusiasm and commitment after 40 years” and concludes by calling the nomination for Les “the most deserving I have seen in my career.”