Awards evening is a real wonderland

It was full steam ahead as more than 120 young people enjoyed an evening of celebration and fun at this year’s Central Bedfordshire Looked-After Children and Care Leavers Achievement Awards.

Guests arriving at the event, which was held at the council’s Priory House headquarters, were greeted by a row of traction engines and vintage cars, before making their way past ornate balloons into an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-themed chamber.

Staff got into the spirit, dressing up as characters from Lewis Carroll’s much-loved book, with managers from the corporate parenting service serving drinks to guests on arrival.

The awards evening is organised by members of the Children in Care Council (link opens in new window), who choose the food, entertainment and venue decorations and are consulted on the actual agenda for the evening.

More than 235 young people were nominated for awards this year for achievements significant to them. So, that could include anything from educational achievements to developing independence skills. Foster carers, residential units, social workers, and designated looked-after children’s teachers are encouraged to nominate youngsters for any achievement.

Among the winners was Emily Smith, who was recognised for a number of things including her support for the work of the Children in Care Council, enrolling onto an access course to teacher training and being a wonderful mother to her young son.

Councillor Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Education and Skills, who attending the event said: “What a brilliant evening! It was great to see so many young people at the awards evening and also so many members of staff in costume and really getting into the spirit of things.

“While it was a really fun celebration of the personal achievements of the many young people nominated for awards, there was a serious message too: Central Bedfordshire Council is committed to helping young people in our care to get the best possible start in life and to help them develop the skills they will need to be independent once they leave our care. 

“The fact that a record number of children and young people have been nominated for awards shows this is happening and I hope they all go on to achieve great things in life.”

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