Kenny Bell was a great UNISON activist, Branch Secretary of Newcastle City Branch and Deputy Convenor of UNISON Northern, he was also a very good friend of mine. Sadly Kenny died in 2011 at the age of 62 which was a massive loss to me personally and our union.
In his honour the award was established to reflect the commitment and work of Kenny, who believed in developing talent, bringing women and young people into union activity, leadership, developing new activists and organising in workplaces and communities.
The winners of the award are asked to create a project and report back the following year about what they achieved. Last year we had two winners Diane Wright from City Of Sunderland branch and Pat Heron from Northumberland Tyne and Wear Health branch. Diane’s project was about raising awareness amongst primary school children about trade unions and why they are so important. Pat’s project was around her involvement in Woman against state pension inequality (WASPI) and both women gave excellent presentations at the AGM.
This year we had four winners:
Karen McArther and Deb Bell from Gateshead Local Government for their work on the excellent Libraries Campaign, raising the awareness of the campaign throughout local communities highlighting the importance of the service.
Sophie Robinson from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS for her work in raising LGBT awareness throughout the branch.
Ann Booth from North Tees & Hartlepool NHS for her work in the branch raising the profile of UNISON recruiting new members and reps.
There was one more winner which absolutely took me by surprise. I was extremely proud to receive the 5th award presented to me by Nikki Ramanandi. Kenny and I stood together as Convenor and Deputy from 2003 until his passing in 2011 and he was both my mentor and friend. It was a real honour to be elected as Regional Convenor and I feel very privileged and honoured to have been appointed as Regional Secretary. I hope that I continue to pass on to others the aims and values Kenny and myself so rightly believe in and that the Region continues to grow collectively from strength to strength.