Hundreds of school staff from across Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust came together to celebrate success at the Chadwick Celebration Awards 2023. The inspiring event took place at Ramside Hall in Durham, after attracting over 500 nominations across 16 categories, from Gospel Values and Trainee Teacher of the Year to Everyday Hero and Leadership and Management Awards.

The hundreds of nominations, from staff across the Trust recognising their colleagues – as well as from 250 pupils who nominated their most inspirational teacher – represent how well staff at Bishop Chadwick are valued by all.

Daniel O’Mahoney, chair of directors, explained one of the Trust’s key values is celebration – and the Chadwick Awards were a chance for staff across the Trust to celebrate together as a community.

He added selecting the nominees was an “unenviable task” given the high calibre of staff throughout the Trust’s schools. “It’s fantastic that so many of you wanted to share the great work of your colleagues,” he said. “To be recognised and nominated for your work is a great achievement and to be shortlisted is a tremendous accomplishment of which you should all be very proud.

He added the leadership team at the Trust know how important colleagues are “to enable you to be the best version of yourselves.” For that reason, as well as receiving a trophy, winners also received a share the win package containing tea, coffee and biscuits to enjoy with their teams.

Mr O’Mahoney added: “We would also like to say a huge thanks to our sponsors, because without them this would not be possible.

Fran Young, of St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School, Jarrow was given the honour of being named Inspirational Staff Award winner – as voted for by pupils.

Pupils who nominated her said, “Mrs Young is kind and smiles and helps us” that she “goes above and beyond for parents and pupils” and even described her as a “superwoman!

Hannah Riddle, RE lead at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary in Peterlee received the Gospel Values Award and said: “I’m still in shock that I was nominated and feel so proud that I’ve been recognised and that I’m making a difference – because that’s what I really want to do.

Hannah, from Jarrow, is leaving the school to become an RE teacher elsewhere within the Trust. Speaking of the Trust, she said: “I think what’s good about the Trust is that we have that sense of community where everyone works together, and we learn from other professionals. Events like this are great when everyone comes together. There is a family feeling and a sense of belonging.

Nicola Tomlin, of St Anthony’s Girls Academy, Sunderland was named mentor of the year at the Trust.

She said: “I was shocked to be shortlisted. I’ve done this over many years, and it has been lovely to get that recognition.

Nicola mentored Alice Liddle, of St Anthony’s Girl’s Catholic Academy in Sunderland who has named the school-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) / Teach First Trainee of the Year on the night. Nicola said: “I love the fact she has received that award more than winning this myself! Getting to see someone grow and become a strong teacher has always been my aim.

Jack Dixon, of St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary in Seaham was named New Teacher of the Year.

Before I became a teacher, I worked with children in different retail jobs at Lego and Disney and working with children was the same across every profession,” he said. “I came home from America during the pandemic and thought the time is right for me to go into teaching.

Of being shortlisted, he said he was “very shocked” and “didn’t think he’d done anything above and beyond what I would have done anyway. I’m just trying to do the best for the children and if I’m making an impact, I’m happy because the children are the people who I’m working for,” he said. “It’s very surreal to win. I came with no expectations – just to have a good time with people who’ve supported me throughout the year. To go home as the winner is fantastic and so unexpected!

The Estates Team of Tracey Field and Martin Scott, based in the Trust Central Team, was named Team of the Year.

Tracey said: “We feel overwhelmed, and we didn’t expect it. What we do is very much a team effort. Being shortlisted came out of the blue – as we just do our day-to-day job and don’t expect anything. It’s nice to be appreciated for what we do.

Martin added: “I’ve only been with the team a year, but we have become a formidable team who work together.

The classroom-based Staff Member of the Year award went to Melanie Conlin, of St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary, Sunderland.

The Higher-Level Teaching Assistant admits she was “covered in mud” when she found out she’d been shortlisted after sliding down a hill while on a residential with pupils!

Speaking of the award win, she said: “I’m buzzing! I haven’t been here three years yet and it’s so nice to think I’ve been recognised like this. My role is about making memories for the kids – I’m hoping in five years’ time the children will say ‘can you remember Miss Conlin falling in the mud!?

I just want them to make memories, enjoy school, and believe you have got to be happy at school or you’re not going to learn.

The Partnership and Engagement Award went to Maria Butt, headteacher at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Primary in South Shields for the Norah’s North Pole project.

The award celebrates staff who have made an outstanding contribution to their academy, community or trust through collaboration and engagement with others. In Maria’s case, she set up a project in memory of her late mum, Norah, which sees headteachers and social care professionals come together to identify vulnerable children in the region at Christmas time. They then provide Santa sacks filled with donated goodies to those children.

Maria said: “My family and I set up this project in memory of my Mam, Norah Wilkinson – her greatest saying was it’s nice to be nice. She used to give her grandchildren some money and they used to buy Christmas goods to take to families in need at Christmas and we thought it would be a lovely idea to continue that legacy. It’s just grown and grown from a couple of hundred presents to thousands. We work across schools, with social workers and health visitors and identify children who get nothing or very little for Christmas and make sure they get a personalised sack from Santa – it’s all about the magic of Christmas! I feel very honoured to accept this award and came to the event with my two sisters and I accept this on behalf of everyone who works so hard on the project.

John Farrer, of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Millfield was named Staff member of the year (support staff) for his work as site supervisor, where he ensures work is always completed to a high standard and on time. He also regularly drives the mini bus for school trips – whatever the time of day – and nothing is too much for him.

Meanwhile, the Governance Award went to Lizzie Brooks and Tercy Thomas, co-chairs of governors at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, Millfield.

Tercy said: “We’re happy we are able to make a difference, we are involved and are valued.

Lizzie added: “We were surprised to be shortlisted – we weren’t expecting it at all. We’re both relatively new to the role and were finding our feet – it was unanticipated and surprising that we were recognised. It’s nice that two women with young families have been recognised and being in a position of leadership such as this is a good example to other working women. The Trust is supportive and accommodating in terms of the timing of meetings so we can work from home and arrange things around us.

Vickie Henry, of St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, in Hebburn won the Leadership and Management Award (Support Staff).

Vickie, who says she loves everything about her job working as the school business manager, was emotional about her award win and said she would “try not to cry.

I think the best thing is the team,” she says. “There are 137 staff in the school and it’s very welcoming. It’s my new work home. “Whenever I’m looking after new staff, I talk about it being like a family feeling, where everyone is there to help one another. I just see what I do as my job – I like those jobs where there is a lot of variety and I’m solution driven when it comes to problem solving.

The Leadership and Management Award (Education) went to Dionne Dunn, headteacher of St Leonard’s Catholic Primary in Sunderland.

The award recognised the fact that the direction and progress she has given to the school has been “unbelievable” with everyone in the school feeling supported and listened to. The school recently achieved a Good Ofsted rating under her leadership.

Ian Johnson, of St Bede Catholic School and Byron Sixth Form, Peterlee was awarded as Secondary Teacher of the Year.

He said: “I was surprised to be shortlisted and to win. When you’ve done the job for a long time, you don’t do it for recognition. We work in quite a deprived area and it’s not about being a history teacher, it’s about giving these young people access to different experiences, putting a smile on their faces and shaping them into great members of their community.

Katie Dixon, of St Bede’s Catholic Primary in South Shields was named Primary Teacher of the Year.

She said: “It’s surreal to win – I don’t feel like I deserve it above anyone else. I was surprised and shocked – I don’t expect anything, I just go to work, and I want to give the children the best. It’s all for the children.
Katie adds what she finds most rewarding about her role is seeing the children progress – as they do so much in reception – and “building a lovely relationship with them and their families. As we work in the first year of school, we try to make it as memorable and magical as possible for them,” she says.

Pete Mitchell, of St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Hebburn won the Achievement Award.

This award recognised Pete’s life’s work dedicated to the education of young people. Having worked in various schools, he has now turned around the fortunes of St Joseph’s, which recently received a Good Ofsted rating.
He said: “I’m delighted to win this award and it’s for the whole team at St Joseph’s, because working at the school is a massive team effort. For the last five years since I’ve been there, they have been the best team I’ve ever worked with. It’s that community, togetherness and God-given drive everyone in the school has – we are all moving together as one community in Christ. It’s an absolute pleasure to be the person who’s the captain of the ship!

Ernie Laws, caretaker of St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, Sunderland was awarded the Everyday Hero Award.

This recognised his work as part of the site staff team, ensuring the school is looking its best and is safe for pupils, supporting his colleagues and mentoring new site staff.

Visibly moved by the award win, he said: “There are a lot of good people out there doing a good job in the Trust. To be recognised as one of them – just wow!

Sponsors of the awards included CER, Womble Bond Dickinson, Sounds Write, Education Mutual, PS Printing Services, Ian McClelland Media, Premier Waste recycling, GMS Grounds Maintenance Specialists, Garland building partners, Durham County Council, SPACE, Crown Alarms, ONE IT Services and Solutions, SASS media, Turner Price Kitchens, Senso, R+R Packaging, Freeman catering butchers, Adkins and Cheurfi Recruitment, Teach First, Data2Action and Ramside Hall Hotel Golf and Spa.

The Chadwick Celebration Awards 2024 will take place on July 12 and nominations will open in January run until March 2024.

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