adso aWARDS 2021


ADSO Rookie of the Year 2021 Winner’s message – Marianne Unwin from Wyre Council

I was surprised and delighted to receive the ADSO Rookie of the Year award. This was the highlight of my professional career so far! Since winning the award, I have been fortunate to have networked with even more like-minded people, which I will be forever grateful for.  

This recognition has already helped me with my confidence and reassured me that I can do this! I am very thankful to have been recognised this early on in my career and it will always be in the back of my mind whenever I doubt myself.  

 This award has not just been for me, but for the whole Democratic Services and Governance team at Wyre Council, as I wouldn’t have been able to succeed without any of them. I am learning from the best! To be recognised and appreciated for the good work we do has really uplifted the team.  

There is no doubt that 2021 was a year of ups and downs for many reasons, nevertheless it must be noted that the whole Democratic Services sector had some amazing achievements. We all started the year off in lock-down with virtual meetings at full steam ahead. Speaking from my own experience, I am extremely proud of my team and the councillors for their dedication to ensuring that meetings still effectively went ahead. We all adapted to new ways of working, but always with a positive mindset. I am extremely proud of every single one of us for getting through it. 

Subsequently, the transition back to in person meetings, something I had yet to experience, was seamless. We have all had to ensured that our in person meetings have been Covid-19 secure and safe for our councillors and officers to return. It hasn’t been easy, however we have all succeeded in making sure important decisions have been made, services have continued and overall, the democratic process has been adhered to. 

 I am very lucky to enjoy what I do, therefore I have the desire to encourage others into the sector. We have so much to offer! 

 I still have much more to learn, but with the continued support of my team here at Wyre Council and the wonderful people at ADSO, I know I can accomplish a great deal.  

 This next year looks very promising, and I plan to make the most of upcoming opportunities. Thank you again.


ADSO 2021 AGM & Awards Ceremony recording:
To skip straight to the Awards Ceremony, start at 1.01:30 on the recording.


Congratulations to all our winners!

Learner of the Year – Cathy Hayward from London Borough of Sutton

This is open to Learners who have completed either the ADSO Certificate or Diploma since the previous awards ceremony for learners in November 2020.  

The learner should be nominated by their Assessor and supported by their Line Manager.  Assessors need to fill in the nomination form above once their learner has completed their qualification in order to nominate them for the Award.

They will be asked to comment and provide feedback on the following areas:

  • Demonstrated significant progress, innovation or resilience during the course of their studies
  • Applied their learning in the workplace for the benefit of their organisation
  • Demonstrated new skills or personal development as a result of their studies
  • Shown that their qualification and learning experience has directly influenced their progression in the workplace
  • Their nomination is supported by their employer

Rookie of the Year – Marianne Unwin from Wyre Council
This award is to recognise an individual who is new to the sector but has had a strong and positive impact within their team. Individuals must be members of ADSO; have had no more than 12 months’ experience in Democratic Services by the deadline for nominations; and should be nominated by line managers (supported by the service head and/or director). The submission should show that the individual has met one or more of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated real commitment to their Authority
  • As a new entrant to the sector, has demonstrated an ability to learn at pace, develop working relationships quickly and able to work successfully with minimum supervision
  • Developed innovation or best practice in the area of Democratic Services or Governance
  • ‘Gone the extra mile’ to provide an excellent service to customers

Distinguished service award – David Hair from Lincolnshire County Council
This is a new award for 2021. The Board wishes to recognise the dedication and achievements of an individual who has made a significant and distinguished contribution to the democratic services sector, not necessarily in terms of length of service, but more about the quality of their contribution. Nominees need to be an ADSO Member and will be judged using the following criteria:

  • Worked as part of a team or led a team that provides a first-class service
  • Successfully implemented new legislation, new systems, new governance structures or new ways of working and/or efficiencies
  • Has developed positive and constructive working relationships with elected Members and senior officers over an extended period and can demonstrate where these positive working relationships have been needed to navigate difficulties.
  • Led or demonstrated innovative and leading-edge service delivery
  • Is an excellent role model for Democratic Services

Application process and deadlines
Nominations have now closed for Rookie of the Year and Distinguished Service Award for 2021.   The winners will be announced as part of the 2021 conference. All entries for the Rookie and Distinguished Service awards will be entered into a draw and the winner of the draw will be able to choose a local or national charity to receive a donation of £100 from ADSO. Learn more about the Awards here.

The submissions will be judged by a panel chaired by the ADSO vice-chair, Peter Sass and three other individuals including a representative of our main sponsor, Civica.

The winner of each category will receive a certificate and trophy.  The winning Learner, ‘Rookie’ Democratic Services Officer and Distinguished service award winners will each receive a £150 cash award to celebrate their achievements. Hear what Peter Sass has to say about the awards here.

All entrants for the awards must confirm in writing at the time of their submission that they have the approval of their line manager/Director to receive the cash prize if they are the eventual winners

For further information, please contact Peter Sass:


More about the awards

Hear what Peter Sass, Vice Chair and organiser of the #ADSOAwards2021 has to say about this years awards here.

We have some videos from our #ADSOAwards2020 winners, hear what they have to say about the awards.

First up, Rookie of the Year Emilia Peters.

Jenni Swift was part of one of the teams that won Team of the Year in 2020, hear what Jenni has to say here.


The AGM and Awards Ceremony are both free for Members and for this years completed learners to attend.