Celebrating our Annual Community First Award winners

At the Community First Awards (L-R) Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, PCC Emily Spurrell, PCC award winner Jo Matthews and host Roger Phillips

Merseyside police officers, staff, volunteers, and community partners were celebrated at this year’s force Community First Awards held last night, Wednesday 16 November 2022.

Now in their fifth year, the Community First Awards recognise the dedication, bravery and professionalism shown by people across the force, and from partner organisations, to support our communities, preventing crime, protecting people, and pursuing offenders. 

This year more than 150 entries were received from Merseyside Police colleagues who nominated officers and staff for their outstanding work, as well as those who carry out invaluable duties alongside the force, to help the community.

A judging panel had the difficult task of shortlisting submissions, selecting three finalists for each of the 13 categories, with Chief Constable Serena Kennedy and Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell also choosing a worthy winner of their personal choice awards.

Among the winners on the night were:

  • Bravery award: Constables Alex Crawford and Graeme Hurd. The two officers responded after a concerned taxi driver reported a woman standing on the wrong side of the railings, next to Liverpool Ferry terminal, attempting to take her own life. While the constables were on route the woman jumped into the River Mersey, where the tide was high and the strong current was pulling her out to sea. Alex quickly removed his body armour and equipment, and risking his own safety, jumped into the water to reach the woman, while Graeme communicated the urgency of the situation through his radio, requesting the Coastguard and ambulance services to respond quickly. In the water, Alex was struggling to lift the woman out, but Graeme was able to pull them both to safety and immediately administer first aid. Thanks to the officers’ bravery, the woman’s life was saved that night and she was offered the help and support she needed.
  • Police Office of the Year ward: Superintendent Diane Pownall. Throughout Diane Pownall’s 29 years’ service in Merseyside Police she has shown a real commitment and passion for policing and currently serves as the senior officer in charge of policing in Liverpool. Through her dedicated work she ensures the force understands our use of stop and search powers and the impact they have on criminality and our communities. As Liverpool Superintendent, Diane has faced great many challenges over the last 12 months such as the bombing at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and the tragic murder of Ava White. Diane shows compassion, resilience and proactivity, and constantly thinks of the needs of the community, she truly embodies the force’s Community First values.
  • Tackling Organised Crime award: In the past 12 months the Project Medusa team has worked to tackle the exploitation of children and vulnerable people. The team has employed a range of methods from enforcement to safeguarding, to effectively disrupt and bring down those responsible for County Lines and protect vulnerable people. Through their relentless work, the team target and remove middle management controllers of County Lines, leaving street dealers with no upstream supply. This tactic has led to several modern slavery prosecutions against those who are exploiting children and vulnerable adults. The main goal of their work is to protect and prevent further harm in the community, and they have closed more than 300 County Lines in the last twelve months with offenders receiving more than 400 years collective imprisonment. The team heading Project Medusa are recognised as being a formidable frontline force.

Merseyside's Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: "The Community First Awards were a fantastic evening. Hearing about the incredible bravery, dedication and selflessness of Merseyside Police officers, staff and volunteers and their outstanding work with partners to prevent and fight crime and support victims makes me incredibly proud. It’s so important we shine a light on the great work that is going on across Merseyside.
“I was also particularly pleased to present Jo Matthews with my award this year. She makes a huge contribution in the work to build stronger, safer communities in Liverpool and she is a very worthy winner.”

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “These awards are a celebration of the hard work, professionalism, and dedication that our officers, staff, volunteers and partners display day in, day out, to protect victims, prevent crime and serve the public. It is so important that these achievements are recognised and celebrated because policing and the work carried out to support our communities across Merseyside is by no means an easy job.

“The judges had a really difficult task choosing the winners, as everyone nominated was a worthy winner for their outstanding work and commitment, and for the difference they have made to keep people across Merseyside safe. I would like to congratulate and thank all the winners and nominees who go above and beyond every day to put our communities first.

“I am always incredibly proud to be Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and I know just how hard our officers, staff, volunteers, and partners’ work. The awards are an opportunity to celebrate just some of the examples of outstanding work that they delivery every single day, for me, having the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and say thank you is really humbling. I am grateful for everything they do, and I hope this years’ winners and nominees are proud of themselves and their work.”

The Merseyside Police Community First Awards would not be possible without the support of sponsors. Special thanks goes to ISG Construction, Police Mutual, Liverpool FC, Motorola Solutions, Niche Technology UK Limited, Softcat, Wilmott Dixon Construction, Serve and Protect Police Credit Union, Graham Construction, A&B Engineering, Robert James Solicitors, Mace Group and TACE Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Consultants

Quotes from winners

Inclusion Award – The Travel Safe Team

Sergeant Mandy Hamilton said: "It’s an absolute honour for the team and their work to be recognised in this way, I am so proud of all that they do for our communities."

Police Staff Employee of the Year Award – Elizabeth Barrington

Liz Barrington, Witness Care Officer, said: "The night was absolutely awe inspiring. I’m just overwhelmed that people have nominated me and it’s so lovely to have won. I am part of an amazing team and for me to be recognised, and the work of my team to be recognised, is fantastic. There are so many fabulous people in Merseyside Police and I’m so proud to have won this award."

Police Volunteer of the Year Award – Julie McCulloch

Julie McCulloch, Volunteer Chaplain in the Bebington Community Policing team, said: "I am so proud to have won this award, not only for myself but for the chaplaincy team, we have a wonderful multi faith chaplaincy team at Merseyside Police, and also for the officers at Bebington police station, that I work with. It’s lovely to be recognised and to know that something you do, particularly in a volunteer role, makes a difference to people."

Team of the Year Award – Force Resource Unit

Wendy Barlow, Head of the Force Resource Unit, said: "We work so hard as team, reacting to what happens on the streets of Merseyside to make sure that the community are safe and police officers are in the right places, at the right time, to respond to community needs. It’s amazing to have our work recognised and we are so happy to have won the Team of the Year Award."

Protecting Vulnerable People Award – Central Sex Offender Unit

Detective Chief Inspector, Lynsay Armbruster, said: "It was so empowering to be part of the awards and to hear about all of the amazing work of officers and staff across the force. For us to be recognised for our role and for the work we have done over the last twelve is really rewarding. We are so proud to have been nominated, shortlisted and to have won the award."

Community Engagement Award – PCSO Peter Shone 

Police Community Support Officer Peter Shone said: "I was up against some really good people and teams in the community engagement award category, so I feel so proud to have won. It means so much to me. I have won the award but the project I deliver has a whole, dedicated team behind it who work so hard every day to make a difference and the work we do wouldn’t be possible without them."

Tackling Organised Crime Award – Project Medusa 

Detective Inspector Gary Stratton said: "To be recognised for our work is absolutely fantastic, it’s so great to win the award and we are really pleased to have been nominated by the people we work with. It’s given us a real sense of pride."

Wellbeing Award – Detective Constable Joanne Braithwaite, Detective Sergeant Lee Egerton and Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Ben Dyer

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Ben Dyer said: "It feels so good to be recognised, along with Jo and Lee, for the work that we did to support our colleagues. The reason we created the wellbeing space was to give something back to colleagues so to be recognised by them is just amazing." 

Community First Partnership Award – Rob Jackson

Rob Jackson, Nurse Clinician, said: "Winning is such a great honour, if you look at the people I was up against everyone was a worthy winner. This award represents not just what I do but also what my colleagues in the NHS do. I am the lucky guy that gets to go out and help young people by speaking to them about the reality of knife crime. While I am doing that, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, there are amazing people in our emergency departments and this award is for all of those that have worked alongside me. From the doctors, the nurses, the porters, the ambulance staff, I wouldn’t have won this award without any of them."

Preventative Policing Award – Constable Anna Hume 

Constable Anna Hume said: "It’s lovely to have won and it was a real surprise. It’s so rewarding to have been recognised by my colleagues for the work that I have done. Day by day we all work so hard and it’s really motivating to get an award like this."

Policer Officer of the Year – Superintendent Diane Pownall

Superintendent Diane Pownall said: "I am so honoured to have won and so proud, but I really feel that it is due to the fantastic team that I have. I am the lucky winner of this award, but I have a brilliant team around me that help me every day to deliver for our communities."

Force Rising Star Award – Sheridan Broddle

Sheridan Broddle, Visual Evidence Officer, said: "Winning is so unexpected, everyone in my category deserved it just as much as me and they are all stars in my eyes, so I am so proud to have won. 

"I have only been with the force for just under two years and my role in visual evidence can often go under the radar so it’s nice to know that the difference we make is really valued. This award will definitely help my confidence and I will keep striving to be better at what I do."

Bravery Award – Constable Alex Crawford and Constable Graeme Hurd

Constable Graeme Hurd said: "There were some really worthy nominees, so for us, winning the bravery award is completely unexpected. I would say that Alex was the main brave person on the day, he’s the one who jumped in the water. 

"This is honestly just one of the things we do on a daily basis, we don’t really see it ourselves as something special, so it’s nice to hear how valued our work is by others.

"I have been in the police for about 15 years and it’s the first time I have ever been to an event like this, it’s so nice to have been part of the awards.'

The Police & Crime Commissioner’s Award – Joanne Matthews 

Joanne Matthews said: "I am truly honoured to get this award. I love my work, I love what I do, I love helping our communities. 

"It was so nice to be part of the awards and to hear about all the fantastic work of officers, staff, volunteers and partners, and to be recognised alongside all of the other winners and nominees is so humbling for me.’ 

The Chief Constable’s Award – Donna Dawber 

Donna Dawber, News and Campaigns Manager, said: "For me to be recognised alongside all of the officers and staff who work so hard, day in day out, to keep our communities safe is so humbling and an absolute privilege. 

"I work with an amazing team of people and without them and the people I have worked with over the years, officers and staff, this wouldn’t have been possible. I am so proud to have received this award and proud to have been part of this force over the last 22 years."