Honouring the public servants

17 May 01
'We've gone through lots of pain to get here, but we have never lost sight of our pupils. This Award is the most special thing.'

18 May 2001

Preet Sahota was clearly a delighted man when he triumphed at this week's Public Finance Awards. The Birmingham head teacher picked up three trophies, including the coveted Outstanding Public Servant of the Year award.

Sahota was recognised for his achievement in turning round the troubled West Heath Junior School. In his three years as head, he has transformed the school's culture and performance, and been praised by Ofsted and the Department for Education and Employment.

But Sahota was quick to share credit for this success, particularly praising Maria Aldridge, the school's effectiveness co-ordinator, who is currently seriously ill in hospital.

In total, 12 awards were presented at the ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on Tuesday, May 15. More than 300 people attended the event which was hosted by newsreaders Mary Nightingale and Dermot Murnaghan.

Other winners included Neerja Jain, who won two Awards for her work with Asian renal patients; school cleaner Ronnie Storey for his involvement at Ushaw Moor Junior School; and Neville Dyckhoff for his commitment as the Metropolitan Police's director of catering.

Guest speaker Lord Hunt said the awards were 'striking' in that they were awarded to individuals across all parts of the public sector. The health minister said that there was 'no better way to spread good ideas' than through the awards. 'We have to ensure that good practice is shared. If you can transform catering in the Met, there must be lessons that can be learned for schools and hospitals.'

The awards have been supported by the Cabinet Office, which will continue its association next year. Cabinet Secretary Sir Richard Wilson described the scheme as 'heartening'.

'It is hugely important to fight for the recognition of excellence in public service. Well done, Public Finance. We are very glad to support you,' he said.


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