We are pleased to announce that Maisie Coldman won Rookie of the Year, Emma Hunter won Learner of the Year and Marcella Heath won the John Lynch Distinguished Service Award, full details can be found below.

The awards shortlisting panel has shortlisted the following for awards this year:

Rookie of the Year Award

Jess Wosser-Yates – Lincolnshire County Council – highly distinguished

Winning the ADSO Rookie of the year award would validate my hard work over the past year, and would boost my confidence both professionally and personally and help to support my future aspirations in democratic services and local government.

Theo McLean – LB Islington

Being very new to the role, winning this award would mean a lot. As a rookie, having such an early, high-profile endorsement from my team has boosted my confidence in my ability to fulfil this role and in my decision to enter the world of Democratic Services.

Maisie Coldman – Norfolk County Council – winner 2023

It was an honour to be nominated for this award and even more so to be shortlisted. If the honour was to be extended further, and I was awarded Rookie of the Year, it would signify my growth as a Democratic Service Officer at Norfolk County Council. It would also provide evidence of my hard work, enthusiasm, and openness to learn about local government. My success is not simply down to my own actions, but those of my colleagues who offered me patience, their guidance, and words of assurance.

Jenny Richards – LB Waltham Forest

It would mean a great deal to be recognised as rookie of the year in this field of exceptionally hard working and dedicated Council officers and a testimony to the wonderful support and encouragement I’ve received over the year from my Democratic Services colleagues at Waltham Forest.

Learner of the Year Award

Danny Saxby – Hastings Borough Council

It is a real honour to be shortlisted for this award. We are often considered as just minute takers and administrators, but we know that Democratic Services Officers are governance professionals working in a multi-faceted role. Winning this award, as well as completing the certificate, will benefit not just me personally, but also my whole team as it will provide a focus for promoting the role of Democratic Services Officers and challenging some outdated ideas about our role, our expertise, and our career pathways.

Emma Hunter – Essex County Council – winner 2023

I have thoroughly enjoyed completing the certificate and am really grateful for all the knowledge I have gained during my studies. Not only has it been very interesting in and of itself, it has also been of clear practical help in progressing my career within Democratic Services. The certificate gave me the confidence to apply for a more senior role within the team, which I have been successful in achieving. If I were to be awarded ‘Learner of the Year’ I would be delighted to act as an ambassador for the certificate and encourage as many colleagues as possible to take up this really valuable opportunity.

Matt Makin – East Suffolk Council

It’s a privilege to be shortlisted for the ADSO Learner of the Year award.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of completing the Certificate in Democratic Knowledge and I cannot understate how much the experience has expanded my knowledge and skills as a Democratic Services professional.  To be named learner of the year by my peers in ADSO would be a great honour.

The John Lynch Distinguished Service Award

Marcella Heath – North Kesteven District Council – winner 2023

Being nominated and shortlisted for this award is an achievement in itself, as I walk the path of local government with so many wonderful colleagues; a cog in the wider democratic machine that helps so many people and places. I’m humbled to stand beside those who have given so much to this democratic sector.

Clare Gray – Buckinghamshire Council

I am delighted to be shortlisted for the Distinguished Service Award recognising my many years as a Democratic Services Officer which is not just a personal achievement but a recognition of the collective efforts of those who have supported my work. It means so much to me that my hard work has been recognised in this way amongst other dedicated colleagues and the Association of Democratic Services Officers. I have always viewed that planning for a Committee can be like putting together a theatre production ensuring that from start to finish a polished performance can be given with no serious outtakes (hopefully) and of utmost importance is having a good team around you, which I always have. I love the quote from Knowles that the ‘The perfect democratic services officer requires to possess the foresight of Old Moore, the accuracy of an adding machine; the judgement of Solomon; the patience of Job; the memory of an elephant; the coolness and tact of a high ranking diplomat; and the literary skill of Bernard Shaw!’ I don’t have all those attributes but it would be nice to think I have acquired a few along the way. I have recently helped a young person on the Kickstart Scheme obtain a job in another Council and it is good to see that my experience can be an inspiration for others.

Jason Spencer – Derbyshire Dales District Council

I am delighted to have been nominated and shortlisted for the John Lynch award for distinguished service. Since its formation ADSO has made great strides in highlighting the importance of good governance in local government and demonstrating how democratic services officers contribute to delivering it. After 30 years of working in corporate governance it would be a great honour to be recognised by the Association and receiving the award would be a fitting testimony to the great individuals and fantastic teams I have worked with over the years who have helped to shape me and my career.

Fiona Cameron – Waverley Borough Council

I’m uncomfortable with self-promotion, so it’s nice when someone is kind enough to do it on my behalf.

I have always thought that having good governance arrangements are like the infrastructure of the council – they aren’t sexy but with regular maintenance they enable the work of the council to proceed in good order. Democratic Services are there to run the machinery of governance and do the maintenance, and if all is working well we can be almost invisible. If the machinery isn’t working so well, our efforts become a little more obvious as we do our best to keep things moving along without the tracks.

A DS nomination makes me think that I have been a little more conspicuous than I would have liked; but perhaps, too, that is worthy of recognition.

So, some mixed feelings about being singled out for the nomination, and anything I achieved as a DSO and then DS Manager was because of the teamwork in Democratic Services and support of colleagues across the council.

Well done to everyone nominated and shortlisted!

The categories for the 2023 Awards are as follows:

Learner of the Year
This is open to ADSO members who have completed either the ADSO Certificate or Diploma since the previous awards ceremony for learners in November 2022. The learner should be nominated by their Regional or Specialist Adviser and the nomination should cover the following criteria:

  • 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
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.

The John Lynch Distinguished Service Award
This award seeks 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

Entries needed to be submitted by e-mail by the close of business on Friday 11th August 2023. The winners will be announced as part of the 2023 conference in Oxford. All entries for the three 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.

The submissions were judged by a panel chaired by the ADSO vice-chair, Peter Sass, and will include a representative of our main sponsor, CIVICA.

All of those shortlisted in all three categories were offered a much-reduced rate to attend this year’s conference – just £75 plus VAT per person.

The winners of each category will receive a trophy and a cash award of £150 to celebrate their achievements.

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: peter.sass@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk