The Big Awards winners 2022

The Big Awards

The Big Awards – an annual celebration of the wonderful people at PSS voted for by the people of PSS. A time to look back and a time to celebrate. Spring is here, so let’s put a spring in our step with a trip down memory lane.  

The awards took place in February and our amazing chief executive Lesley was the host. We had laughter, we had tears (of joy) and most of all we had fun! Honestly, The Oscars, they’ve got nothing on us!  

It was amazing to see all the fantastic achievements of our PSS people, and all the great things PSS accomplished over the past year. Here’s a little run-down of who won and why.   

The Big-Hearted Award

The Big-Hearted Award is all about being kind and considerate, looking out for others, and being super supportive. They look after themselves so they are better able to support others.  

This year’s Big-Hearted Award winner is the brilliant Barry Neil, a support worker who works in our Supported Living service. Barry won this award for going above and beyond, and making a huge difference to someone who was nearing the end of their life. He showed his big-heartedness by dedicating his time and providing excellent support. Barry stayed at their bedside until the end.  

‘This has made it all worthwhile it really has, thank you. This really has culminated in a happy ending, thank you very much for the nomination.’ 

The Genuine Award

The Genuine Award is for someone who is trustworthy, has integrity, and is a team player. They show commitment to doing things in the right way.  

The Genuine Award winner is the awesome Michael Galbraith, clinical psychologist and clinical lead of our Parent-Baby Services. Michael won this award as he really about the families he supports and goes the extra mile for them. Michael wants the best for the babies and the families who use our services and has genuine kindness that the families relate to. He also cares about all the staff within the team and provides opportunities for support and development. Let’s hear what Michael has to say:  

‘I feel delighted, humbled, and honoured to win this award. Although, to be honest, I don’t think of it as my award but I have accepted it on behalf of the team. They have shown so much professionalism and integrity over the last couple of years when things have been very difficult. I also think a lot of thanks needs to go to Rita Chambers (our head of Strengthening Families services), it’s typical of her kindness and thoughtfulness that she nominated me for this award! And not least of all thanks also to the families we have worked with. They have accepted us meeting them and getting to know them, often at very stressful times in their lives. Thank you, everybody.’  

The Open-Minded Award

The Open-Minded Award is a person who treats people fairly, learns new ways to make a difference, and follows through with ideas. They go on a journey with someone – letting their experience lead the way.  

The Open-Minded Award winner is the wonderful Abi Reese, Shared Lives panel development worker, and PSS volunteering coordinator. Abi won this award for always being positive and committed. Using her open-mindedness Abi was able to make volunteers feel part of the wider PSS team and worked hard to get the voices heard of the people she was working with. Let’s hear Abi’s thoughts on winning:  

‘I am so ecstatic that I have won the open-minded award, it is an honour! I would never have achieved this without the backing of panel members. Winning this award just demonstrates how open-minded panel members have become, to adapting the way we hold panels, especially during COVID-19. I am so proud of how far our Shared Lives panels have come over the past 18 months and this is all down to the doing of the members.’   

The Determined Award

The Determined Award is for someone with drive, is brave enough to do things differently, and is passionate about what we do. They have a solution focus and make things happen.  

The Determined Award winner is the incredible Nicky McGovern, Wellbeing Centres service manager. Nicky won this award for being a brilliant example of hard work and dedication. By keeping services open during the pandemic, Nicky showed her determination in making sure people got the support they needed. Nicky became the queen of risk assessments and did everything that she could to provide in-person support.  

‘I’m delighted to receive the Determined Award. I couldn’t be any prouder of the Wellbeing Centre’s response to lockdown, it’s been a real team effort, so this award is really for everyone who helped. During the first months of the pandemic, people told us that whilst telephone calls and Zooming were helpful, they just did not compare to the support you get from ‘being’ with others. So, whilst most other mental health services closed their doors for the majority of lockdown, we became champions of risk assessments to keep ours open. I believe that the determination we all had to re-open our buildings, driven by the belief that Covid-19 presented just as much a risk to our mental health, made the pandemic much more bearable for the people we support, we really made a difference…’  

The Professional Award  

The Professional Award is all about being respectful, pushing limits (within boundaries), and taking responsibility. They do what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it.  

The Professional Award winner is Kathryn Whelan, our front-of-house assistant at our head office, Eleanor Rathbone House. Kathryn won this award for always pushing herself and challenging her boundaries when developing new skills. Kathryn is a great example of professionalism by always being helpful, and friendly to everyone who comes through the doors of Eleanor Rathbone House. Since then, Kathryn has transferred her skills and is working within the quality team, and is doing an ace job!  

‘It’s great to have won. I was shocked and surprised. I have come a long way, and feel more confident. It’s lovely to be recognised.’ 

 The Volunteer of the Year Award 

All our volunteers work incredibly hard by investing their time, skills, and expertise, but this award is for someone who has gone above and beyond.  

You know it’s a good one when we have not one, but two astounding award winners for our Volunteer of the Year Award.   

Let’s start with our first winner: Jackie Hughes, Making Days volunteer. Jackie won this award for always showing enthusiasm, determination, and being a champion for co-production. Being a fantastic volunteer means Jackie works hard to ensure that the voices of the people we support are front and centre. Jackie believes that the people we support should be able to co-design their support, and so do we. Let’s hear what Jackie has to say:  

‘I can’t believe it, she says. ‘I’m absolutely shocked and stunned. Thank you so much.’  

Our second winner is Leah Ardley-Forder, a volunteer with Shared Lives East. Leah won this award for being a team player, a fantastic mentor, and an even better friend to those around her. Leah is a wonderful volunteer – mentoring other experts, interviewing new carers, and is a champion for co-production and equality. Alison, who nominated Leah for this award, told us how Leah’s feeling to have won:  

‘Leah is thrilled to have won and feels very proud of her achievements, Alison said. She loves volunteering and has met loads of PSS colleagues and potential carers over the last twelve months. She has also grown in confidence having spoken to people all over the country on zoom and been out with me on face-to-face visits.’  

The COVID-19 Hero 2021 Award

The COVID-19 Hero 2021 Award is the second year we have given this award and is decided by the leadership team. This award is for someone who has been working outside of their usual role to help with the COVID-19 efforts.  

The COVID-19 Hero 2021 Award winner is Lisa O’Rourke, Shared Lives Merseyside coordinator. During the pandemic, Lisa stepped up to the plate and volunteered her time and expertise to work with our local partners and help coordinate personal protective equipment (PPE) for social care services like ours throughout the whole Liverpool region. It was a tough task and took loads of patience and determination, but Lisa did an amazing job without a single complaint. She’s always smiling and has an inspiring can-do, will-do attitude. She’s been a beacon of positivity through the pandemic and we’re so proud to have her on our team.  

‘I’ve enjoyed working with PSS for 18 years across many services. I’m now supporting the Shared Lives Merseyside team as a service co-ordinator. Being nominated was amazing but winning the award made me feel proud to work with so many lovely people at PSS. I’ve always felt valued and supported at PSS, and this shows me that I’m a valued member of the team. I worked with PSS and Liverpool City Council to help people in the City of Liverpool at a really difficult time to enable them to continue receiving PPE during the pandemic, in my own time and with great pleasure. The experience I gained from this was more than enough for me, so winning the award made me feel really proud.’

Pride of PSS Award

Pride of PSS Award goes to the person who holds themselves to the PSS values in a big way. They are a shining example of what makes PSS so great and we’re proud to call them our own.  

This year’s Pride of PSS Award winner is the one and only Libby Davies, service coordinator for Strengthening Families services. Libby won this award for being hard-working, pushing herself to learn new skills, and making everyone smile at the same time. Libby is a shining example of the PSS values by being professional, genuine, having a big-heart, and having an open-mind in everything that she does, especially her work with the Ministry of Justice contract.  

‘Thanks so much, I’m still in awe, to be honest’, she said. ‘I’m so proud to even be considered for an award, never mind the Pride of PSS. It’s an honour to be recognised and very humbling to know that colleagues respect me and value me.’  

Thank you 

Well, what can we say? We really do have the best of the best in our PSS family. How amazing are all our winners? We would like to thank everyone who took the time to make a nomination. We would also like to thank everyone at PSS for caring and working so hard in everything we do. Are you thinking about joining PSS or know someone who will make a great fit? Head to for more information on vacancies, volunteering, and our Shared Lives services.