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Winners of the Scottish Public Service Awards 2020 announced

Image credit: Holyrood

Winners of the Scottish Public Service Awards 2020 announced

The winners of this year’s Scottish Public Service Awards have been announced, with former auditor general Caroline Gardner receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for her services to Scotland.

There were eleven award categories in total, ranging from the Rising Star Award to the Campbell Christie Public Service Reform Award, as well as awards for leadership, sustainability, third-sector partnership and digital, and a new award in 2020 recognising an outstanding response to COVID.

Award winners included councils, Police Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, with the awards recognising both team effort and individuals who went above and beyond in this particularly difficult year for public services.

Hosted by the Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer Ken Macintosh, the evening opened with a fanfare by members of the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, followed by speech from Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

The Deputy First Minister said there was no year more appropriate to celebrate the “outstanding work” done by public servants than “the year in which public services have had to wrestle with COVID and its challenges”.

Announcing Gardner as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Macintosh said: “The Lifetime Achievement Award recognises an individual who has made a lasting contribution to Scottish public service, who has earned the recognition and respect of their peers and who has exhibited leadership and inspired others. 

“I can tell you that this year’s winner displays all these characteristics and more.

“Selfless, principled, conscientious, and trustworthy, the judging panel were as one in deciding that this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award should go to an individual who personifies all that is best in the public service, Scotland’s former auditor general, Caroline Gardner.”

Gardner responded: “I can’t express how grateful I am to receive this award.

“Like most of us, I was born in an NHS hospital, I grew up in a council house, and I was educated at a state school. I’m the first person from my family to go to university.

“And I owe just about every chance I’ve had in life to the establishment of the welfare state after the Second World War and the universal public services that came with it.

“I’ve been lucky to spend the last 35 years in public audit, a backstage pass that’s allowed me to dig deep into how our public services work.

“It's also allowed me to see the difference they make to the lives of people across the country, every single day.

“And that’s been truer than ever in 2020, a year that has tested every one of us, a year of uncommon emotion and, even in its hardest moments, a year of deep humanity and – ultimately – hope.

“It can be overwhelming to think of that quiet humanity at work.

“Of the tens of thousands of individual human scenes across Scotland where lives have been saved, enriched or – much too often this year – lost in the most difficult of circumstances.

“I’ve always known that my job was easy compared to the challenges facing others, especially those supporting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.

“Sadly, auditors’ reports get much more attention when they report on problems than successes.

“And it’s one of the few frustrations of my career that brilliant innovations across public and third sector services don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

“But they’re out there, all over the country, improving lives every day – including the work of all of the great nominees and award winners we’ve seen this evening.

“So I feel a bit of a fraud accepting this award, but it does give me the very welcome opportunity to thank, first, my former colleagues at Audit Scotland for their work in promoting the good governance and transparency that is such an important part of outstanding public services.

“And especially, to thank all the public servants who, this year more than ever, have changed the course of so many lives across Scotland.”

Now in their seventh year, the annual Scottish Public Service Awards celebrate excellence within Scotland's public services.

The awards are run by Holyrood in partnership with the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government.

This year they were held virtually with a record number of attendees registered to watch the awards online.

The headline sponsor for 2020 was Leidos, with individual awards sponsored by Improvement Service, SCVO, LumiraDX and XMA.

Alec Harley, Leidos portfolio director for Scotland, said: “The standard of entries this year was exceptionally high and we have some truly outstanding winners.

“The agility many organisations showed in quickly adapting to continue providing services during the pandemic was remarkable.

“I have no doubt that Scotland’s public sector will seize this unique opportunity to transform our public services, using technology, innovation and collaboration to make them more personal, accessible, efficient and accountable.”

Scottish Public Service Award 2020 Winners

Community Engagement Award

Dignified Food Programme, East Ayrshire Council

Sustainability Award

Technology empowering the development of Scotland’s forests, CivTech, Forestry Land Scotland and TreeTape

The Campbell Christie Public Service Reform Award

Contact Assessment Model project, Police Scotland

The Colin Mair Award for Policy in Practice

Dundee Green Health Partnership, Dundee City Council

The Communications Award

Scottish Government COVID-19 Communications

The COVID-19 Response Award

Supporting Frontline Workers, Glasgow City Council

The Digital Public Services Award

Virtual and hybrid proceedings, Scottish Parliament

The Leadership Award

Chaloner Chute, Digital Leadership for Test and Protect

The Project and Programme Management Award

Scotland's Marine Assessment 2020

Voluntary Sector Partnership Award

Empowering Personal Safety training for sensory impaired people, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety

The Lifetime Achievement Award

Caroline Gardner

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