Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEE 2021-22: Myra’s Commendation is for all-round excellence as a Case Administrator, for over three decades, with East Midlands NPS; praised widely by colleagues, she is described as “irreplaceable”, “our lynchpin”, and “The Queen of Probation”.
‘She is irreplaceable’
Charlotte Dunkley, Head of Derbyshire City, says the team “cannot praise her enough for ensuring the team are reminded, prepared, cajoled and supported, when everything around them is changing”, noting newly qualified staff particularly valued Myra, and quoting one:
‘‘Since the first day I started, Myra has been the Queen of Probation and has made my 7 years so enjoyable working at Ilkeston. She knows the answer to anything and everything and would not hesitate to do anything above and beyond her duties. ‘Myra will know, she won’t mind’ – is a regular saying of mine and her work is truly appreciated.”
Her capacity “to absorb new information and anticipate issues” is undimmed, says Charlotte, quoting Myra’s Senior Probation Officer: “Personally, her emails to me, which usually start ‘not nagging, but do you realise that…’ are a saviour.” She also highlights Myra’s gifts as “a problem solver”, and her lead on recent initiatives like COVID 19 reporting, whilst emphasising that Myra’s “excellence” at her job included her interest in and care for those around her, and citing her support for staff with disabilities “to work fully in what was a less than ideal old building.”
During Covid Myra combined practical and emotional support, “from dropping off laptops to loaves of bread at one point!” Her “care, empathy and support” as someone “who never forgets anything she has been told about your life” impressed everyone. Offenders, meanwhile, could “absolutely trust her discretion.” For many, Myra “was the face of the Probation Service in Ilkeston.” To be “the linchpin” of an administrative team for thirty years is “a rare thing”, adds Charlotte, “and the whole LDU hopes she can be celebrated.”
Myra’s colleague Christine Petrie tried to sum up her impact:
“Difficult one as Myra does so much for everyone. She is always eager to help the Officers and do whatever she can to make their job easier. She is always there for them to sort their IT problems or request information for other Agencies if she thinks it will help. I do not know how Probation will manage without her when she retires. She is irreplaceable.
On a personal level, she was my Mentor when I first started working at Probation in the Ilkeston Office in 2007. She was there for me every step of the way and taught me everything I know, and painstakingly went through every process with me, step by step, never leaving me alone to sort things and processes for myself. I for one will miss her every day and every working minute as she has always been there for me, at my side as a work colleague and friend.”
Another colleague, Sara Tutin, calls her “a dedicated and reliable colleague and friend to all, but especially to the Ilkeston team” while Senior Probation Officer Alison Hunt admits “I am going to be lost without Myra. She knows everything and is totally reliable,” praising an “excellent manner with service users, very patient and calm. She is an absolutely lovely genuine caring person.” Sara Helmsley remembers a police colleague working with the team always saying that “Myra has shown the very best of probation to our partners.” Sam Swann added that “nothing fazes her, even the sometimes hectic state of our waiting room, with unexpected pets, and families, and people in distress. They all know and trust Myra, she is the face of Ilkeston probation to many people.”
Without “intangible and hard to measure” admin support, concludes Charlotte, “many of our systems and processes would fall apart. Where it works well it is transformative, effective and efficient. Myra has exemplified this in her work for many years.” Regional Probation Director Martin Davies calls Myra’s dedication and commitment “literally second to none. Myra stands out as being the fountain of all knowledge. She’s hugely respected and supports people of all grades on such a wide range of topics – it really is exceptional. There is literally no one who meets Myra that doesn’t leave feel supported and having learnt something new.”
Myra recalls how interesting and challenging she found her work, and how much she enjoyed interacting with the offenders, and their knowing she “would be there to help and support them.” Like many of our winners, Myra is modest and generous: “I feel any success I’ve had is due to working with a strong and successful team.” That team happily say otherwise, and will be very pleased at this recognition for Myra.