Calderdale Council honoured its exceptional staff members for their outstanding contributions to the community during the annual Our Stars awards ceremony on Thursday, 28th September.

The event saw a record-breaking number of nominations, shedding light on the extensive range of services provided by the Council. These encompassed care, community protection, addressing the affordability crisis, as well as managing areas such as housing, libraries, finance, and ICT.

The award submissions vividly portrayed the Vision 2024 for Calderdale in action. They featured accounts of staff members going the extra mile, demonstrating Calderdale as a hub of enterprise, talent, compassion, resilience, and uniqueness.

The finalists gathered at the awards ceremony held at the Arches, Dean Clough in Halifax. The event was made possible through the generous sponsorship of local organisations. Robin Tuddenham, the Council’s Chief Executive, commenced and concluded the ceremony with gratitude-filled addresses. The awards were presented by the Mayor of Calderdale, the Council Leader, Cabinet Members, and senior officials.

Robin Tuddenham, Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, said; “The Council’s vast and varied work touches the lives of everyone across Calderdale. Our amazing staff and volunteers are putting the Council’s three priorities into action every day, with support from local communities. They’re helping our towns to thrive, reducing inequalities and taking climate action, in challenging circumstances.

“The Our Stars awards are an opportunity to recognise the impact that staff and volunteers make in helping people to live happier, healthier and larger lives, in towns and places where people want to live, work, do business and visit.

“Congratulations to all the winners, whose stories are heart-warming and inspiring.”

The accolade for Team of the Year was awarded to the Council’s Early Advice and Support Team. They were recognised for their tireless collaboration with voluntary organisations in aiding the most vulnerable residents, who may be grappling with financial or mental challenges.

The team recently assisted a resident who had escaped from domestic abuse, faced difficulties in affording basic necessities, lacked cooking facilities, and was isolated with no internet access. The team not only addressed immediate concerns but also went the extra mile by maintaining daily communication with the residents. This allowed them to understand the long-term support required and facilitated the application for entitled benefits.

The Volunteers of the Year title was bestowed upon the Independent Visitors. These individuals offer support, guidance, and companionship to a child or young person in care. They engage in shared activities, assist with academic work, and embark on outings, establishing a foundation of trust.

One volunteer supported a young person through an exceedingly challenging and delicate period involving numerous relocations, departing from their birth family’s locality, and the dissolution of a long-term relationship. The young person’s mental well-being suffered during these transitions. Even after moving away, the Independent Visitor continued to meet with them, travelling great distances to do so.

The Place Development Team received the Town and Place Ambassador Award. Established in September 2021, the team aimed to aid businesses in their recovery and revitalise the visitor economy following the pandemic. Some of their accomplishments include supporting open days at Wainhouse Tower, promoting the area through Visit Calderdale market stalls, and backing the Anne Lister Birthday Festival.

Richard Armitage and his team, known as the Healthy Homes Team, were named Climate Heroes. They offer support to residents struggling to stay warm amidst the cost of living crisis, exacerbated by high energy bills. Recognising the correlation between achieving net zero carbon targets and ensuring warmth and well-being, they successfully secured funding from the Innovate UK Net Zero Living Programme. This funding was used to insulate stone-built homes, enhancing their energy efficiency. Calderdale’s selection as one of only 21 councils in the country to receive this funding stands as a testament to the team’s expertise.

In the category of Reducing Inequalities, Louise Moreland, a child protection social worker, emerged as the top awardee. She demonstrated exceptional kindness and went above and beyond to assist a vulnerable mother in making positive changes, enabling her to safely care for her child. This involved Louise dedicating extensive hours to accompany the mother to evening classes, building her skills, and learning effective means of communication. This effort empowered the mother to live independently, diminish her isolation, and gain a deeper understanding of child protection and legal processes.

The full list of Our Stars winners is as follows:

Town and Place Ambassador Award (sponsored by Geldards LLP): The Place Development Team

Climate Hero(es) Award (sponsored by AHR Architects Ltd): Richard Armitage and The Healthy Homes Team

Reducing Inequalities Award (sponsored by the Community Foundation for Calderdale): Louise Moreland – Children’s Social Worker

Early Career Colleague of the Year Award (sponsored by Calderdale College): Louis Smith – Early Intervention Team, Children and Young People’s Services

Team of the Year Award (sponsored by Code Building Solutions): The Early Advice and Support Team

Inspirational Leader Award (sponsored by MAC Construction Consultants): Sarah Richardson – Assistant Director of Customer Services

Improvement and Innovation Award (sponsored by YPO): Intermediate Care Team – Adult Services and Wellbeing

Outstanding Act of Kindness Award (sponsored by Dean Clough): Nasar Ahmed – HR Contracts and Payroll Administrator, Siobhan Laheney – Asset Planning Manager, The Family Intervention Team – Children and Young People’s Services, Faye Hamer – Customer First Operations Lead, Graham Teal – Contract Monitoring and Support Officer – Waste Management

Volunteer(s) of the Year Award (sponsored by Halifax & Skircoat Green Directories): Independent Visitors Team
Health and Wellbeing Award: Jane Kirk – People Development Manager

Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award (sponsored by Forbes Solicitors): Roberta Crossley – Libraries Team Leader

Leader’s Award (sponsored by The Bigger Boat): Sheron Hobson – Policy and Partnership Support Officer

Chief Executive’s Award (sponsored by Turner & Townsend): Heidi Waters – Strategic Housing Delivery Manager