Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice

Award Winners and Commendees

Our three most recent cohorts of Annual Award Winners and Commendees are detailed below:

2019-20  |  2020-21  |  2021-22


Award Winners

HMP Cardiff’s ‘inspiring, infectious, and tenacious’ Matt Hillard created a TV station from scratch, and HMP Edinburgh’s ‘beacon of hope’ Shona Pate reinvented their Visitor Centre – by taking it into the community. HMP Woodhill think Andrew Blackmorehas SHONE’, especially his brilliant pocket guide for new Officers. Nathan Grewal’s work at HMP Brinsford dealing with gangs is a wonder to behold’, while Graham Duncan’s amazing support work for HMP Channings Wood led a former Officer to say: ‘Well, it saved my life.’

HMP Hatfield were grateful to Les Egan and 40 years’ experience as the ‘go to’ person: ‘Every prison should have a Les,’ while at HMP/YOI Isis, Chris MacInnes is ‘one of the best examples of a Prison Officer anywhere. ’The North East Probation Service has Vicky Walton, ‘a superstar’ helping drive national effective practice. ‘One in a million’ Julie Jones is shaping change by brilliantly connecting prisons and families with schools, while West Sussex YOT’s ‘secret weapon’ Paul Wood is that person everyone knows – inspiring everyone.

Andrew Blackmore (HMP & YOI Woodhill)
[keywords: staff/prisoner relationships, safer custody, violence reduction]
Graham Duncan (HMP Channings Wood)
[keywords: staff care, wellbeing, mental health]
Les Egan (HMP & YOI Hatfield)
[keywords: jailcraft, employment, jobs]
Nathan Grewal (HMP & YOI Brinsford)
[keywords: safer custody, gangs, violence reduction]
Matt Hillard (HMP & YOI Cardiff)
[keywords: education, skills training, media]
Julie Jones (HMP & YOI Parc)
[keywords: families, children, education]
Chris MacInnes (HMP & YOI Isis)
[keywords: jailcraft, peer support, listeners]
Shona Pate (HMP Edinburgh)
[keywords: families, children, visits]
Vicky Walton (North East NPS)
[keywords: resettlement, equality & diversity]
Paul Wood (West Sussex Youth Offending Team)
[keywords: young offenders, skills training]


At HMP Maghaberry, Amanda Wilson is revolutionising accessible visits for disabled children‘There was barely a dry eye in the house’, while in HMP Pentonville it’s Eve Brotzel’s ‘magic’ helping vulnerable prisoners communicate and deepen Officers’ understanding. For HMP Exeter, a challenging resident getting ‘Enhanced’ says everything about Bridgette Setters.

HMP Doncaster’s Emily Hazard ‘smashed it and left a legacy’ by reinventing an Early Day Centre with peer ‘Insiders’ (reinventing them, too); HMP Full Sutton’s Mel Walker changed everything’, brilliantly solving tough problems; and HMP Preston’s Ann Donnellon, with absolute dedication, each & every day’ turned decline into transformation.

East Midlands NPS’s Myra Hogan’s 30 years giving magnificent admin support makes her the ‘irreplaceable’ ‘Queen of Probation’. At West Midlands NPS ‘quiet, determined, and gracious’ Audrey Beckford brings excellence everywhere, including serious further offences practice, while outstanding leader’ Natalie Hill has forged a new level of ‘best’ in staff support. HMP/YOI Isis’s Chineme Mgbeike has ‘unwavering personal integrity’ as ‘a role model, mother figure, and great example of care for staff and prisoners’.

For 45-year years, Hackney YOT’s Horace Dawkins has used ‘heart, passion, and values’ while ‘teaching Love to young people, love of themselves, and others.’ Steven Swan, formerly at Merseyside CRC and now at North West NPS, ‘gives people hope’, bringing ‘magic’ to connecting with young men. Oakhill STC residents say Sharon Arnold ‘is like my mum in prison’ – their touching nominations showing her impact . HMYOI Werrington call Alice James a ‘heart amongst hearts’, ‘the soul of the prison’, but for the boys, she’s like your Mum and your Nan all in one’. HMP/YOI Grendon ‘shining star’ Gemma Grahame-Wright had 21 nominations recognising an absolute force of nature’.

HMP Bronzefield’s Simeon Sturney goes the extra mile by walking alongside newly released women: ‘one mile to make the difference’. HMP Lewes has had hard miles but had Gary Offen ‘present at all the right moments’, bringing tireless compassion to all. HMP Liverpool’s Imam Talha Ahmed revived a Chaplaincy, shining light into darkness: they’re ‘all proud to call him our friend.’ Daniel Crawley’scourage of a lion’, always calm under pressure, means ‘Liverpool is lucky to have him.’ HMP Wymott’s Martin Wilsdon has faced crisis through grit and compassionate leadership, and ‘epitomises all that we stand for.’

Talha Ahmed (HMP Liverpool)
[keywords: chaplaincy, faith, visits]
Sharon Arnold (Oakhill Secure Training Centre)
[keywords: young offenders, complex needs]
Audrey Beckford (West Midlands NPS)
[keywords: leadership, staff training, serious offences]
Eve Brotzel (HMP & YOI Pentonville)
[keywords: learning difficulties, autism, speech & language]
Daniel Crawley (HMP Liverpool)
[keywords: safer custody, violence reduction, staff/prisoner relationships]
Horace Dawkins (Hackney Youth Offending Team)
[keywords: young people, families, mentoring]
Ann Donnellon (HMP & YOI Preston)
[keywords: staff morale, staff training, staff/prisoner relationships]
Gemma Grahame-Wright (HMP Grendon)
[keywords: jailcraft, offending behaviour, therapeutic community]
Emily Hazard (HMP & YOI Doncaster)
[keywords: early days in custody, peer support, violence reduction]
Natalie Hill (West Midlands NPS)
[keywords: critical incidents, victims, staff training]
Myra Hogan (East Midlands NPS)
[keywords: staff support, administration]
Alice James (HMYOI Werrington)
[keywords: young offenders, staff/prisoner relationships]
Chineme Mgbeike (HMP & YOI Isis)
[keywords: staff/prisoner relationships, leadership, staff support]
Gary Offen (HMP & YOI Lewes)
[keywords: staff care, wellbeing, mental health]
Bridgette Setters (HMP & YOI Exeter)
[keywords: mental health, violence reduction, staff support]
Simeon Sturney (HMP & YOI Bronzefield)
[keywords: female offenders, chaplaincy, resettlement]
Steven Swan (Merseyside CRC / North West NPS)
[keywords: young offenders, resettlement]
Mel Walker (HMP Full Sutton)
[keywords: complex needs, leadership, peer support]
Martin Wilsdon (HMP & YOI Wymott)
[keywords: catering, health, wellbeing, staff support]
Amanda Wilson (HMP Maghaberry)
[keywords: autism, visits, families, children]


Award Winners

HMP Dartmoor’s Governor says “a prison full of George Blakes would be crammed with well-being” and Daljinder Sangha is applying his decades of jailcraft to help the vulnerable. Jo Brown is voluntarily delivering “Gold Standard” Family Liaison around bereavement and Deanna Mezen is embedding the Dying Well in Custody Charter across HMP Oakwood, while over at HMPPS HQ Wayne Hodges is driving a pioneering drugs initiative.

Alice Jones is transforming additional learning needs education while Pat Brannigan is changing financial lives for the better, Ricardo Lafuente-Dyer is tackling gang-related knife crime with inspiring new approaches and Joy Keenan is creating exceptional probation work on knife crime in Merseyside. Meanwhile, Zahid Bhatti is leading an impressively large multifaith team at HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

Patrick Bannigan (Staffordshire & West Midlands CRC)
[keywords: resettlement, finance, benefit, debt]
Zahid Bhatti (HMP/YOI Wormwood Scrubs)
[keywords: chaplaincy, religion, staff care]
George Blake (HMP Dartmoor)
[keywords: jailcraft, staff/prisoner relationships, keywork]
Jo Brown (HMP Holme House)
[keywords: families, palliative care]
Wayne Hodges (HMPPS Drug Strategy / Delivery)
[keywords: substance misuse, drugs, leadership]
Alice Jones (HMP/YOI Parc)
[keywords: education, learning difficulties, staff care]
Joy Keenan (North West National Probation Service)
[keywords: public protection, violent offenders, knife crime]
Ricardo Lafuente-Dyer (HMP/YOI Pentonville)
[keywords: gangs, violent offenders, staff/prisoner relationships]
Deanna Mezen (HMP Oakwood)
[keywords: healthcare, palliative care]
Daljinder Sangha (HMP/YOI Woodhill)
[keywords: jailcraft, staff/prisoner relationships, vulnerable prisoners]


Outstanding practice is a feature among our Commendees, too, from Rowan Mackenzie bringing Shakespearian theatre alive inside prisons, Ben Eaton, Sue Kidney and Parmjit Singh Rai’s inspiring teamwork driving an innovative housing resettlement project and Eve Chester’s ‘sixth sense about when people need a boost’, to Alecia Johnstone’s passionate championing of care leavers in custody and Jose Aguiar – dubbed by a prisoner as “a one-man learning campus”.

This year’s array of striking probation practitioners includes Susan Lanzer, Commended for a career-long commitment over a third of a century to “her unshakeable belief in the possibility of change”, Roland Clark for his posthumous legacy of truly inspirational work as a Victim Liaison Officer, Derek Rhoden who has brought an enormously positive influence to diversity and inclusion, and Ian Sparshott, who is transforming lived experience into a vital voluntary role with service users.

Highly regarded personal qualities that infuse professional excellence is another common factor seen in many Butler Trust winners – like Kenny Beaton, a phenomenal character that HMP/YOI Woodhill “would like to bottle”, Mick Groombridge who is likewise described as “a fantastic role model and an inspirational character”, Jim Jackson of whom a colleague said “Every prison needs a ‘go-to’ person and at HMP Oakwood, this is Jim” and Brendan Doyle, with his three decades of service characterised by courage and consideration. Outstanding Physical Education Instructors are frequently the beating heart of prisons, and a good example this year is Jason Marsh whose incredible enthusiasm got a prison band named after him!

At HMP/YOI Bronzefield, Gayner Holness’s remarkable work with women in custody is so inspiring even her daughter wants to be a prison officer when she grows up, while Tracey Varela’s warmth and enthusiasm clearly benefits and is truly appreciated by staff and prisoners alike. Meanwhile HMP/YOI Hindley have a similar gem of enthusiasm and warmth in Sara Musker, of whom one colleague remarked “Not all heroes wear capes and our hero at Hindley is Sara.” Another fine testimonial calls Chris McCammon “the best Catering Manager I’ve had the pleasure to work with in 41 years.” Meanwhile Jacqui Wizard, with her remarkable quarter century in nursing at all levels in HMP Grendon, is simply but powerfully described as “an absolute wonder.” And there’s another remarkable nurse among this year’s winners, too, in Carolyn Wood, who “exudes care, compassion, respect, honesty and accountability.”

Jose Aguiar (HMP/YOI Pentonville)
[keywords: education, staff/prisoner relationships]
Kenny Beaton (HMP/YOI Woodhill)
[keywords: environment, staff/prisoner relationships]
Eve Chester (North West National Probation Service)
[keywords: offender management, complex needs, staff care]
Roland Clark (South East & Eastern National Probation Service)
[keywords: victims, public protection]
Brendan Doyle (HMP Coldingley)
[keywords: jailcraft, staff care, staff/prisoner relationships]
Ben Eaton, Sue Kidney & Parmjit Singh Rai (DLNR CRC)
[keywords: resettlement, housing]
Mick Groombridge (HMP Isle of Wight)
[keywords: jailcraft, equality & diversity, veterans]
Gayner Holness (HMP/YOI Bronzefield)
[keywords: families, children, female offenders]
Jim Jackson (HMP Oakwood)
[keywords: training, industries, violent offenders]
Rev Alecia Johnstone (HMP/YOI Preston)
[keywords: chaplaincy, care leavers, vulnerable prisoners]
Susan Lanzer (London CRC)
[keywords: resettlement, offender management]
Rowan Mackenzie (HMPs Gartree & Stafford)
[keywords: education, training, drama]
Jason Marsh (HMP/YOI Hatfield)
[keywords: staff/prisoner relationships, physical education, community relations]
Chris McCammon (HMP Kirkham)
[keywords: catering, training, healthcare]
Sara Musker (HMP/YOI Hindley)
[keywords: decency, visits, staff/prisoner relationships, staff care]
Derek Rhoden (North West National Probation Service)
[keywords: equality & diversity, staff care]
Ian Sparshott (Hampshire & Isle of Wight CRC)
[keywords: volunteering, mentoring, substance misuse]
Tracey Varela (HMP Kirkham)
[keywords: wellbring, staff/prisoner relationships, staff care, community relations]
Jacqui Wizard (HMP Grendon)
[keywords: healthcare, wellbeing]
Carolyn Wood (Aycliffe Secure Centre)
[keywords: healthcare, education, young offenders]


Award Winners

Nikki Dennington is praised as ‘one of the best prison art tutors’ and gets the best out of her students, while Denis Lewis is a manager in youth justice who is consistently inspiring colleagues and young people alike. There were ten heartfelt nominations by offenders for Laura Jacobs who ‘changed their lives forever’, and lots of praise for Florence Alake’s combination of grace and truly exemplary jailcraft.

David Hill is taking prison food to a whole new level. Terence Rowley is reducing self-harm while creating a beautiful environment with bees, chickens – and lizards, while Steve Whitehead & David Wilson have transformed Hull prison’s grounds into award-winning gardens (also with chickens).

Three Awards go to really remarkable probation practitioners: Alice Burrows has a gift for always seeing that ‘glimmer of hope’; Sarah Viner’s ‘innate ability’ with challenging cases spans over 30 years; and Kirsten Amphlett is called ‘an incomparable gem’. Taken together, all three show the very best of the probation services at work.

Florence Alake (HMP & YOI Isis)
[keywords: staff/prisoner relationships, jailcraft]
Kirsten Amphlett (National Probation Service, South West & South Central)
[keywords: public protection, mental health, offender management]
Alice Burrows (London CRC)
[keywords: public protection, mental health, offender management]
Nikki Dennington (HMP & YOI Standford Hill)
[keywords: education, arts]
David Hill (HMP Buckley Hall)
[keywords: food, offender management]
Laura Jacobs (HMP Grendon)
[therapeutic community, psychology]
Denis Lewis (Leeds Youth Offending Team)
[keywords: young offenders, children, diversity]
Terence Rowley (HMP & YOI Brinsford)
[keywords: self-harm, education, environment]
Sarah Viner (London CRC)
[keywords: public protection, mental health, offender management]
Steve Whitehead & David Wilson (HMP & YOI Hull)
[keywords: mentors, education, environment]


There’s yet more remarkable probation practice among the Commendees, too, from Chloe Blake, who deals with ‘highly challenging and often dangerous people’, and from Emmy Mercan, who has pioneered an inspirational women’s Breakfast Club. Meanwhile Simon Bland is showing how music reaches, engages, and provides focus for offenders. Work by Tim Morris with a radio station is helping transform Liverpool prison, and there’s another Liverpool Commendee, too, in John Woolham, who is leading the prison’s charge on a decent and clean environment.

There’s outstanding work in youth justice from Claire McCartney, an amazing manager who runs a world-class Scottish education and care centre, and in London, from Holly Thurman, who brings her exceptional gifts to highly challenging cases. Talking of which, Dave Wood brings remarkable management skills to a Close Supervision Centre holding ‘some of the most difficult, violent and dangerous men in the prison system‘. Heather Bestwick has infused autism awareness and responsiveness into her prison while helping it win National Autism Accreditation status.

Ryan Brewster was inspired to partner with Andy’s Man Club – which is now showing men inside that ‘#ItsGoodToTalk’. Pauline Miller-Brown has turned the challenges of the resettlement process into an incredible initiative from food and transport to accommodation and suitcases. Superb jailcraft features prominently in the work of Michael Brigginshaw, described by his Governor as ‘an example of what excellence looks like‘. Mark Godman, too, is praised for his empathetic jailcraft among women offenders – who made moving testimonials.

Tracy Perry is ‘a quietly amazing administrator‘, always thinking of ways to improve things for the men at HMP Ford, while Danny Terrey has been crucial to transforming gardens and other spaces into ‘the jewel in Portland’s crown‘. Ed Horwood’s clever invention of a ‘Pop Up Shed’ is inspiring young offenders (and their mums) – and helping them make reparations. Adrian Tayler’s work on a Victim Impact Programme in Northern Ireland is making a remarkable impact.

Military skills are a theme with two Commendations. After a career in Wetherby prison, Keith Daniel now uses his retirement to volunteer as a drill instructor. Meanwhile, Steve Coffield took his own army experience and, alongside Mark Kendal, created a challenging and highly effective Personal Achievement & Development Scheme. Deborah McLening & Lisa Udale are Commended for leading a successful initiative recruiting ex-offender case support workers to reach high-risk service users. And the Recycling Lives project boasts two Winners this year: Yvonne Grime, who is managing and inspiring women prisoners with ‘unrivalled empathy’, and Barry Flanagan, who also brings a ‘deep empathy’ to helping people grow and succeed in navigating their way back into society.

Heather Bestwick (HMP Whatton)
[keywords: autism, mental health, offender management]
Chloe Blake (National Probation Service, South West & South Central)
[keywords: public protection, mental health, offender management]
Simon Bland (Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire & Rutland CRC)
[keywords: arts, music, mental health, offender management]
Ryan Brewster (Yorkshire Prisons Group)
[keywords: mental health, self-harm, offender management]
Michael Brigginshaw (HMP & YOI Woodhill)
[keywords: safer custody, jailcraft, offender management]
Steve Coffield & Mark Kendal (HMP Humber)
[keywords: education, training, offender management]
Keith Daniel (HMYOI Wetherby)
[keywords: volunteering, education, training]
Barry Flanagan (HMP & YOI Wymott)
[keywords: education, training, rehabilitation]
Mark Godman (HMP & YOI East Sutton Park)
[keywords: female offenders, jailcraft, offender management]
Yvonne Grime (HMP & YOI Styal)
[keywords: female offenders, training, industries]
Ed Horwood (North Yorkshire Youth Offending Team)
[keywords: young offenders, education, training]
Claire McCartney (Youth Justice in Scotland)
[keywords: young offenders, education, mental health]
Deborah McLening & Lisa Udale (Kent, Surrey & Sussex CRC)
[keywords: rehabilitation, public protection, offender management]
Emmy Mercan (Kent, Surrey & Sussex CRC)
[keywords: female offenders, public protection, mental health, offender management]
Pauline Miller-Brown (HMP Oakwood)
[keywords: resettlement, offender management]
Tim Morris (HMP Liverpool)
[keywords: radio, education, offender management]
Tracy Perry (HMP Ford)
[keywords: administration, offender management]
Adrian Tayler (HMP Magilligan)
[keywords: victims, education, offender management]
Danny Terrey (HMP & YOI Portland)
[keywords: environment, education]
Holly Thurman (Croydon Youth Offending Team)
[keywords: young offenders, mental health, public protection]
Dave Wood (HMP Full Sutton)
[keywords: offender management, public protection]
John Woolham (HMP Liverpool)
[keywords: environment, decency, offender management]

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