Star awards ceremony recognises City Council staff

Aberdeen City Council has recognised the excellence of its staff with a series of ‘Star Awards’, at a special ceremony at the Beach Ballroom on Thursday 20 June 2019.

Judges from the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen Guild of Burgesses, Aberdeen Council for Voluntary Organisations, Robert Gordon University and from major public and private sector organisations in the city selected the category winners from more than 230 nominations from City Council colleagues and members of the public.

Angela Scott, Chief Executive, Aberdeen City Council said: “Aberdeen City Council staff serve the people of our city every day of the year and they aim to give our citizens the best service possible.

“The Star Awards give colleagues and the people of Aberdeen the opportunity to show their appreciation to those employees who have gone out of their way to serve our citizens. The winners, finalists and all the nominees, should be very proud as they are a huge credit to the Council and to the city.”

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Aberdeen City Council staff are second to none. Council services from our housing services, schools, streets, parks, events programme to name only a few, are kept running because of the dedication and hard work of very able individuals and teams.

“They will tell you they are simply doing their job, but it is a great pleasure to be able to give them the recognition they deserve for the fabulous work that they do.”

The winners of the Star Awards 2019 are:

Rising Star

This award celebrates an individual who has shone in their new role in the Council.

Winner: Hataichanok (Jan) Saevanee

Everyone knows Hataichanok as Jan and pretty much everyone that she supports at work makes a point of seeking out her chief officer to tell him how wonderful she is. Jan has an energy and positivity that infects everyone she works with. Jan came into the new Business Intelligence Unit (BIU), in mid-2018. Since then Jan has been an absolute star. One of the “big jobs” for BIU in 2018/19 was to start using a new tool (PowerBi). We would not have been able to do this without Jan. Some of us assumed she was an expert, but the truth is that she self-educated herself in her own time. She is now the Council’s “go to” person on PowerBi and is in very high demand.

Finalists: Jade Leyden

Emma Shanks

Team of the Year

This award is for a team who have either achieved outstanding performance levels and customer satisfaction or worked in a focussed and unified way to deliver a desired objective for the Council and City.

Winner: Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership Learning Disability Team and the in-house services (Len Ironside Centre & ACCLDICS)

The social work team work tirelessly to ensure the outcomes for people with disabilities are of the highest standards. They monitor adult support and protection referrals to ensure the safety of vulnerable people within the community while prioritising reviews and transitions to services for people and their families. They do this with professionalism, dedication and care. The Health team provide support by ensuring the right equipment is in place or a social story has been completed in order for a supported person to understand what is happening to ease the transition to a new home. Working closely together colleagues can identify a problem or difficulty and work quickly and efficiently because they work together for the best outcomes possible for everyone.

Finalists: Environmental Services Clean Up Aberdeen Team

Lochside Academy Support Staff Team

Improving Staff Experience

This award is for an individual or team whose behaviour creates a positive culture

and enhances the experience of our staff.

Winner: Sean Ewing

Sean has proven outstanding leadership and resourcefulness within the Energy Team. Sean has arranged training, mentoring and development and always puts the wellbeing and morale of his team first. A joiner to trade, his knowledge in this area and many others across the Council is of tremendous value to the team.

Finalists: Kay Johnston

Kittybrewster Catering team - Dorota Myszka and Marta Czajkowska

Improving Customer Experience

This award is for an individual or team who has either demonstrated exceptional

customer service or has enhanced how customers experience our services.

Winner: Digital Schools Admission Team

Getting your child into school has been managed using paper forms for many years with the process which required many forms to be completed by parents/guardians. This year the team has transformed the staff and ‘customer’ experience with the launch of a digital admissions process. Parents/guardians can now apply for any school with a single online form for any term, and any year group throughout the year. All communications are generated instantly by email, with the process redesigned to gather evidence up front and highlight additional support needs earlier to enable better planning for the child’s education. The team included: Customer Development who led the initial business analysis, Education sponsored the project and ensured that outcomes were focused on Getting It Right For Every Child and the Legal Team ensured compliance with the Education Acts and governance.

Finalists: Care Management West Team

Jenny Rae


The collaboration award is for an individual(s) or teams who have demonstrated excellence in working together.

Winner: Bridge of Don Remembers

‘Bridge of Don’ Remembers was a collaboration between nine head or depute head teachers at schools in Bridge of Don, three local churches and the local branch of Legion Scotland. The project marked the centenary of the 1918 armistice. By working together, they increased the depth and richness of the project giving the children a greater learning experience and encouraged a whole community to get involved.

Finalists: Leigh Houston (Airyhall Primary School)

Rosemount Community Centre

Improving Use of Resources

This award is for an individual or team that strive for best value, effectively managing their resources whilst still delivering outcomes.

Winner: Countryside Ranger Service

The Countryside Rangers have a long history of having to deliver a lot of projects to improve the wildlife habitats of the Council’s fantastic 25 countryside sites totalling over 1200ha in area. To deliver the work needed for managing these sites volunteers have been key. The countryside rangers are constantly promoting the service and the benefits that volunteers can gain from it. In the last year volunteers have committed over 2140 hours of time (equivalent to more than 300 days) to help manage these sites.

Finalists: PEEP Project

Moira MacIver (Bucksburn Partnership)

People's Champion

This award is for an individual or team who are an unsung hero and deserve recognition for the work they do and is chosen by the readers of the Evening Express.

Winner: Bill Esslemont – School Crossing Patroller, Woodside School

Bill was nominated by the pupils and staff at Woodside Primary School for his work as their school crossing patroller. Over the years Bill has earned the respect of the children, as you can see from these quotes “Bill can say hello or good morning in several languages and greets everyone by name and with a smile” “Bill always makes sure we are safe and he even reminds me to bring my ukulele to school!!” and they always listen to him to ensure they are safe while walking to and from school. Bill also arrives early for work in the winter, to ensure the paths and crossing area are gritted properly before the children arrive.

Finalist: Steven Shaw


This award recognises an individual or a team who have demonstrated an innovative

approach and improved the way we do business. The award for Innovation was voted for during the award ceremony.

Winner: Daniel Shand and Norman Adams – Council Gardener’s Blog

Daniel (council gardener) and Norman (videographer) have created a monthly gardening blog to inspire others to get into gardening and encourage people to visit Aberdeen’s beautiful parks and green spaces. The blog is also used to shine a light on all the different council services, Friends of groups, schools, community groups and charities, who all work tirelessly to make the city a great place to live and work. The blog is a great way of passing on expert advice from Daniel while Norman is also showcasing the knowledge and skill the Council has in creating video that engages with all ages.

Finalists: Elaine Buchan, Gemma Simpson, Hataichanok (Jan) Saevanee – Data Register

Angela Jane Hesketh – Employee mental health & wellbeing

Shining Star

This award is given for an individual who has reacted to a situation out with their role within the Council. A situation that required their involvement to ensure that a customer or a colleague was given the assistance they required in a very rare situation, to enable them to overcome difficulty or to recover from an event that has had a significant impact on their health.

Winner: Emily Snowdon

(no finalists, only the winner is announced)

Long Service awards – 40 Years of Service to Aberdeen City Council

Wilma Wallace, Malcolm Brown, Alison Simpson, Andrew Gaffron, Sandy Scott, Michael Johnston, William Milne, William Muir, Philip Roger, Lewis Shewan, Graham Shand.

The judging panels for the various awards included:

  • Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson, Police Scotland

  • Bruce Farquharson, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service

  • Dr Liz Rattray, Aberdeen University

  • Vikki Nairn, Robert Gordon university

  • Liz McIntyre, North East of Scotland College

  • Professor Amanda Croft, NHS Grampian

  • Maggie Hepburn, ACVO

  • Lord Dean Mr Colin Taylor, Aberdeen Guild of Burgesses

  • Duncan Sinclair, Sport Aberdeen

  • Craig Walker, Evening Express

The Star Awards dinner and ceremony was fully funded with the kind support of sponsors:

Findel; Consortium; ARCO; Passell; Central Coaches, TPS (Turriff Potato Services), Brakes, McWilliam.


Bill Esslemont, People's Champion 2019 was unable to attend the award ceremony therefore there is currently no photograph of him with his award.  Norman Adams, who won the Innovation award with Daniel Shand was unable to attend the event hence the photograph is of Daniel only.