Celebrating the men, women and teams who go above and beyond to keep our communities safe was at the heart of this year's Be Proud Awards, which took place at Cadbury House Hotel on Wednesday 12 June 2019.
The awards, jointly hosted by the Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh, recognised 25 individuals and six teams for their outstanding work and dedication.
BBC Radio Bristol's Emma Britton compered the evening and local people and organisations said a massive thank you to the unsung heroes by sending their well wishes via video before the ceremony commenced.
During the awards ceremony, two special individuals were recognised with a new award, the 'Inclusion Award.' The surprise award recognises those within policing who have worked tirelessly to create better relationships between victims, communities and the police as well as significant learning within the organisation.
Sergeant Adam O'Loughlin has gone above and beyond in raising the profile of autism in the organisation and supporting those with autism in the community. He has worked on many new initiatives including: lobbying to ensure that autism is added as a distinct strand of hate crime; initiated changes to custody to ensure that all autistic detainees are recognised and provided with appropriate support; and he is currently looking at various strands of work to encourage more neurodiverse staff in the organisation.
PC Mike Steven was recognised for his work in supporting men and boys who have been victims of serious sexual assault. He has arranged several events in his own time to examine how best to work in partnership to achieve better outcomes for all victims. His personal dedication in keeping people safe, giving them back some power and control in their lives when they are at their lowest ebb is second to none.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: "The awards evening is my favourite night in the calendar year as it is also a privilege to be in the same room with so many inspirational, selfless and dedicated individuals. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who took the time to send in nominations as the awards give us the opportunity to celebrate our policing heroes for their efforts.
"To our finalists winners and everyone who was nominated, I would like to wish you a massive well done and thank you for all that you do."
Chief Constable Andy Marsh added: "The awards night belong to our finalists and winners; the evening is a tribute to every police officer, staff member and volunteer within Avon and Somerset who make a real difference to our communities.
"Our finalists and overall winners embodies the force's values of caring, courageous, inclusive and learning and I am very proud to lead such dedicated group of individuals and teams."
Neighbourhood Officer of the Year – PCSO Susan Thompson, Somerset
Presented by Chief Constable Andy Marsh
Susan has been described as an outstanding example of community policing. She helped a male who was having a mental health crisis and her calm and composed attitude ultimately saved his life.
Sue said: "I'm quite overwhelmed and I was saying to one of my colleagues just now that it's very easy at the moment for us all to get a bit ground down by what is so difficult, sometimes we face situations that we will never solve and the challenges we face can be extremely challenging. To come to a night like this and see the amazing work that the wider organisation as a whole does makes me feel really really proud to be a part of it."
Response Officer of the Year – PC Anna Hall, Somerset
Presented by SEA
Anna is a prime example of outstanding modern policing and her investigate skills are second to none. Without a doubt, she brings out the best in those around her.
Anna said: "I feel amazingly proud, it is a huge privilege to have won the award this evening. It was very unexpected. Working on response is all about working as part of a team and this is very much true in my team in Weston."
Investigator of the Year – PC Lucy Hassell
Presented by Capita
Lucy is passionate about victim care and she worked extensively with agencies to support vulnerable teenage girls. She gave a voice to victims of these crimes and in doing so, helped to change their lives.
On receiving the award: "I was really shocked to receive a nomination, so much so that I actually responded to the email asking if it was meant for my husband! I am absolutely blown away that I have won the award as I was just doing my job."
Police Staff Member of the Year – Esther Wride
Presented by BT
As Inclusion and Diversity lead for the Constabulary, Esther embodies the Avon and Somerset Police values of inclusion, caring, courageous and learning. She is committed to driving forward inclusion.
Police Support Volunteer of the Year – Kirstie Mayes, Portishead
Presented by Lord Lieutenant of Bristol Peaches Golding
Kirstie has shown exceptional commitment to her role as a Main Cadet Leader of Portishead Police Cadet unit, going far beyond what is expected of her. She has a culture of progression that encourages cadets to take on greater responsibilities and help the wider community.
Kirstie said: "I am very very honoured, I work with a great team that support me throughout everything, I really couldn't do it without them. I really enjoy sharing my experience as a PC with the cadets. I've got 10 years policing experience under my belt and I love sharing that with the younger cadets. I like seeing how they progress from really shy 14-year-olds and grow and develop into really confident 18-year-olds that go on to join the police or go off to university and into careers and support the community in any way they can."
Special Constable of the Year – Special Inspector Roland Lowe, Filton Beat Team
Presented by Chief Officer David Farrell
Since becoming a Special, Roland has put in a massive amount of hours into the organisation, particularly in 2017 when he worked in excess of 1,000 hours. He is a credit to the force.
Roland said: "I'm very very delighted to take away this award this evening. It's one of those things that no one expects to win to be honest. Just being nominated was more than enough, it felt like I had won already but to actually take the award home is just fantastic, thank you."
Specialist Operations Award – Underwater Search Team
Presented by Unison
The Underwater Search Team complete outstanding and often traumatising work. The team take on physical and emotional circumstances and work hard until the job is complete
Sgt Nick Evans from Underwater Search Team, Specialist Operations Award said: "We are very surprised to win the Specialist Operations Award, completely unexpected. We are thoroughly over the moon to be honest. A lot of the work we do we can't really talk about or publicise so it's really nice to be recognised, myself and the team really have worked tirelessly. And also it's for our other halves for when we've had to come in at very short notice, it's for them as well."
Policing Team of the Year – Weston Town Centre Team
Presented by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens
A caring and compassionate group of officers, this team makes a positive difference to the town centre and the safety of both visitors and local people. The team are 100% committed to neighbourhood policing.
Sgt Lee Kerslake from Weston Town Centre Team, Policing Team of the Year said: "I am so proud of the team. They've worked really hard all year, it is absolutely fantastic that they have been recognise for everything that they have done for Weston, it's brilliant. This will absolutely spur them on to continue their work over the next year. There is so much more that we want to do and they are all absolutely focused. We try our hardest to speak to the community about all that we are doing. It's really nice and heartening to know that they are listening and they appreciate what we are doing. Hopefully we can keep repaying them with further hard work over the next year as well."