Achievements take centre stage at Star Awards

Congratulations to all of our finalists and winners at the Star Awards, which were a fantastic celebration of the achievements of colleagues from across the Council.

Last night’s event at the Beach Ballroom was an opportunity to recognise the achievements of individuals  and teams from across the council. It was also an opportunity to look back at some of the highlights of the past year and also to look forward to what we hope to achieve in the weeks and months ahead.

There were 236 nominations this year, just short of a record entry, and for so many people to go out of their way to highlight the work of colleagues is really lovely.

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On that note, it’s important to thank some of the many people who made the event such a success. From the sponsors who generously support the awards and ensure they can be staged at no cost to the Council to the entertainers on the night and the fantastic compere Martyn Orchard through to the Ballroom staff who, as always, were the perfect hosts. Our judging panel, including representatives from a number of external organisations, give up their time to support the awards and are always passionate and diligent in their work.

Special mention goes to the organising team who give up their time to run the awards, from nominations and judging through to the night itself: Carol Wright, Steven Shaw, Martin Wyllie, Karen Gatherum, Arlene Dunbar, David Leslie, Cathy Lewis, Craig Clark, Stella Evans and Gordon McDade

Gordon’s last on the list but certainly not least – as project manager he’s been the driving force behind the Star Awards and he has decided to hand over the baton to let someone else take on the challenge. His work has been very much appreciated.

The roll of honour for 2019 is below, with everyone deserving of their place on a list that paints a picture of the diversity of the services we provide and the dedication that sits behind that.

We can all take great pride in what we have delivered together as one team over the past year.

I had the pleasure of making the opening remarks last night and used it to reflect on the journey we’re on.

I recently listened to a “thought for the day” by Dr Sam Wells and he contrasted the difference between an organisation and an institution, following on from the expose surrounding Oxfam in Haiti.

Dr Wells describes an “organisation” as only being focused on its output whereas an “institution” he describes as a keeper of standards, the bearer of trust and concerned with how it functions as well as what it does. It’s a timely and helpful distinction in definition.

As you know, we’ve been forging our definition of ourselves through the recently approved behaviour and capability frameworks. As I listened to Dr Wells, it made me see our efforts to define our collective character, through agreeing a set of common behaviours, as an attempt to be an institution rather than an organisation.

In the modern world, the language of institutions and public servants can seem dated and not relevant. However, the language of standards, trust, character all have a place in today’s world – it could be argued, required more today than ever before.

Looking back over the last year brought memories of achievements not only in good times but also in adversity and reinforced the fact that we are building a great institution through our staff.

The Star Awards are entirely dedicated to demonstrating how much we value each other and to recognising a job well done. It’s important that we continue to develop our approaches to showing appreciation, recognising the different attitudes held across our five generations of workforce. Last night there were 11 long service presentations, with more than 440 years of combined service.

Work will be kicking off soon, by a staff led group, on a bigger piece of work to explore alternative options for staff recognition and the results will be shared with everyone. I’ll provide more detail on that through my blog very soon.

Whatever your role and wherever you work in the Council, you’ll all be able to look back over the last year and point to the difference you and your colleagues have made to the people of Aberdeen.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your efforts and for continuing to play your part in making Aberdeen City Council a great institution. It’s certainly an institution which I am very proud to be Chief Executive of.

Star Awards 2019

Rising Star

This award celebrates an individual who has shone in their new role in the Council.

Winner: Hataichanok (Jan) Saevanee

Everyone knows Hataichanok as Jan and pretty much everyone that she supports at work makes a point of seeking out her chief officer to tell him how wonderful she is. Jan has an energy and positivity that infects everyone she works with. Jan came into the new Business Intelligence Unit (BIU), in mid-2018. Since then Jan has been an absolute star. One of the “big jobs” for BIU in 2018/19 was to start using a new tool (PowerBi). We would not have been able to do this without Jan. Some of us assumed she was an expert, but the truth is that she self-educated herself in her own time. She is now the Council’s “go to” person on PowerBi and is in very high demand.

Finalists: Jade Leyden; Emma Shanks.

Team of the Year

This award is for a team who have either achieved outstanding performance levels and customer satisfaction or worked in a focussed and unified way to deliver a desired objective for the Council and City.

Winner: Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership Learning Disability Team and the in-house services (Len Ironside Centre & ACCLDICS)

The social work team work tirelessly to ensure the outcomes for people with disabilities are of the highest standards. They monitor adult support and protection referrals to ensure the safety of vulnerable people within the community while prioritising reviews and transitions to services for people and their families. They do this with professionalism, dedication and care. The Health team provide support by ensuring the right equipment is in place or a social story has been completed in order for a supported person to understand what is happening to ease the transition to a new home. Working closely together colleagues can identify a problem or difficulty and work quickly and efficiently because they work together for the best outcomes possible for everyone.

Finalists: Environmental Services Clean Up Aberdeen Team; Lochside Academy Support Staff Team.

Improving Staff Experience

This award is for an individual or team whose behaviour creates a positive culture and enhances the experience of our staff.

Winner: Sean Ewing

Sean has proven outstanding leadership and resourcefulness within the Energy Team. Sean has arranged training, mentoring and development and always puts the wellbeing and morale of his team first. A joiner to trade, his knowledge in this area and many others across the Council is of tremendous value to the team.

Finalists: Kay Johnston ; Kittybrewster Catering team, Dorota Myszka and Marta Czajkowska.

Improving Customer Experience

This award is for an individual or team who has either demonstrated exceptional

customer service or has enhanced how customers experience our services.

Winner: Digital Schools Admission Team

Getting your child into school has been managed using paper forms for many years with the process which required many forms to be completed by parents/guardians. This year the team has transformed the staff and ‘customer’ experience with the launch of a digital admissions process. Parents/guardians can now apply for any school with a single online form for any term, and any year group throughout the year. All communications are generated instantly by email, with the process redesigned to gather evidence up front and highlight additional support needs earlier to enable better planning for the child’s education. The team included: Customer Development who led the initial business analysis, Education sponsored the project and ensured that outcomes were focused on Getting It Right For Every Child and the Legal Team ensured compliance with the Education Acts and governance.

Finalists: Care Management West Team; Jenny Rae.


The collaboration award is for individuals or teams who have demonstrated excellence in working together.

Winner: Bridge of Don Remembers

‘Bridge of Don’ Remembers was a collaboration between nine head or depute head teachers at schools in Bridge of Don, three local churches and the local branch of Legion Scotland. The project marked the centenary of the 1918 armistice. By working together, they increased the depth and richness of the project giving the children a greater learning experience and encouraged a whole community to get involved.

Finalists: Leigh Houston (Airyhall Primary School); Rosemount Community Centre.

Improving Use of Resources

This award is for an individual or team that strive for best value, effectively managing their resources whilst still delivering outcomes.

Winner: Countryside Ranger Service

The Countryside Rangers have a long history of having to deliver a lot of projects to improve the wildlife habitats of the Council’s fantastic 25 countryside sites totalling over 1200ha in area. To deliver the work needed for managing these sites volunteers have been key. The countryside rangers are constantly promoting the service and the benefits that volunteers can gain from it. In the last year volunteers have committed over 2140 hours of time (equivalent to more than 300 days) to help manage these sites.

Finalists: PEEP Project; Moira MacIver (Bucksburn Partnership).

People’s Champion

This award is for an individual or team who are an unsung hero and deserve recognition for the work they do and is chosen by the readers of the Evening Express.

Winner: Bill Esslemont – School Crossing Patroller, Woodside School

Bill was nominated by the pupils and staff at Woodside Primary School for his work as their school crossing patroller. Over the years Bill has earned the respect of the children, as you can see from these quotes: “Bill can say hello or good morning in several languages and greets everyone by name and with a smile” and “Bill always makes sure we are safe and he even reminds me to bring my ukulele to school!”. Pupils always listen to him to ensure they are safe while walking to and from school. Bill also arrives early for work in the winter, to ensure the paths and crossing area are gritted properly before the children arrive.

Finalist: Steven Shaw.


This award recognises an individual or a team who have demonstrated an innovative approach and improved the way we do business. The award for Innovation was voted for during the award ceremony.

Winner: Daniel Shand and Norman Adams – Council Gardener’s Blog

Daniel (council gardener) and Norman (videographer) have created a monthly gardening blog to inspire others to get into gardening and encourage people to visit Aberdeen’s beautiful parks and green spaces. The blog is also used to shine a light on all the different council services, Friends of groups, schools, community groups and charities, who all work tirelessly to make the city a great place to live and work. The blog is a great way of passing on expert advice from Daniel while Norman is also showcasing the knowledge and skill the Council has in creating video that engages with all ages.

Finalists: Elaine Buchan, Gemma Simpson, Hataichanok (Jan) Saevanee – Data Register; Angela Jane Hesketh – Employee mental health and wellbeing.

Shining Star

This award is given for an individual who has reacted to a situation out with their role within the Council. A situation that required their involvement to ensure that a customer or a colleague was given the assistance they required in a very rare situation, to enable them to overcome difficulty or to recover from an event that has had a significant impact on their health.

Winner: Emily Snowdon

Long Service awards – 40 Years of Service to Aberdeen City Council

Wilma Wallace, Malcolm Brown, Alison Simpson, Andrew Gaffron, Sandy Scott, Michael Johnston, William Milne, William Muir, Philip Roger, Lewis Shewan, Graham Shand.