Lifetime Achievement


Bessie Priest

ORGANISATION: Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

AWARD(S): Lifetime Achievement


Bessie’s service to the social work profession is so significant that she’s still practising at the age of 82, something that the judges said was “inspirational”.


Bessie started her career with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council as a town clerk and progressed to the role of social work assistant after having children of her own. She later undertook her qualifying training and currently works on the council’s care management team, supporting families in the borough.


She has worked beyond retirement age at the request of her employers, which shows just how much they value her exceptional skills, knowledge and experience.


Bessie embodies social work values and has gone the extra mile for her service users by sending them postcards from her holiday destinations. Her personal commitment to being ‘the constant’ in the lives of children she works alongside makes her an inspiration to us all.


As one of her colleagues commented, most people would simply not want to do the job at this age and would rather put their feet up. But Bessie’s commitment and passion for working with children and families has remained unwavering and her entry was described as “just phenomenal” by the judges.


This was a standout entry and Bessie’s contribution to social work in this country made her very much a frontrunner for the award. She is a credit to her employer.

Andrew Williamson CBE, Chair of NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group & Chair of Exeter Primary Care

She’s 82 and still practising as a social worker – what an inspiration! There’s no doubt that Bessie deserved this award for her resilience.

Jo Cleary

The essence of social work, the commitment to focusing on the service user and the sharing of knowledge with others in the profession really came through for me in Bessie’s application. It is also just phenomenal to still be practising at 82.

Carol Long, Chief Executive, Young Epilepsy

Bessie’s calmness, patience and wisdom are qualities that, I think, stand her head and shoulders above other professionals in her field. I feel privileged to have worked alongside her during her time with Dudley.

Julie Flavell, Foster Carer

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