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MBE for ‘inspirational’ council officer

Queen’s Birthday Honour for Bridget Bennett

An “inspirational” council officer has been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her work with children and families across the East Riding.

Bridget Bennett, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s service manager for early years and family support, has worked as a social worker in front line practice since 1977.  She has worked in the East Riding since 1999, having previously managed a family centre in York.

In the East Riding she took responsibility for childcare development at a time when the Government had started offering free childcare places for a limited number of three year olds.  Since then she has overseen tremendous growth in the provision of childcare and early education within the private, voluntary and independent sector, as well as schools.

The other major development has been that of children’s centres which deliver a range of services for children and their families which has grown and continues to adapt to meet changing needs and priorities.

Bridget says she is very humbled to receive the MBE, adding:  “My first thought was how many people were more deserving of an award than me.

“I am hoping that by accepting the award it will raise the profile of early years work in the East Riding and all that has been achieved over the last 20 years through the hard work of so many people, council colleagues as well as the many hundreds who have, and continue to work in the childcare sector.  Their commitment to providing the very best opportunities for young children and their families cannot be faulted.

“It has been and continues to be a privilege working for East Riding, and I am very aware that without the ongoing support of local politicians and senior managers and their belief in investing in early years we would not have the breadth and quality of services, about which we should all be very proud.”

Kevin Hall, the council’s director of children, families and schools, said that Bridget has been ‘inspirational’ in her drive to develop early years and family support in the East Riding, having developed a network of 18 highly regarded children’s centres which provide health, social care and early help services to families across the region.

Kevin said Bridget displays compassion, courage and professionalism in everything she does, combining these with a kind manner that promotes confidence in the workforce and trust and hope in the families she serves.

“Throughout her career, Bridget has flown the flag for children and for the role of professional social work in keeping them safe, resilient and achieving,” he said. “Although now operating in a senior position, Bridget remains fully tuned in to the real challenges facing the families in some of our most deprived communities.

“In the East Riding, Bridget has developed a comprehensive early support offer that is both highly accessible by some of our most vulnerable families, but also one which nurtures in parents and carers ambition and belief in their ability to succeed.

“It is impossible to do justice to the extent of Bridget’s life-changing work with so many families.  However, we believe that there is an untold number of families and professionals whose lives Bridget has touched either directly or indirectly who will applaud and celebrate this recognition of her outstanding contribution.”