A south Norfolk town council clerk who doubted her ability when applying for the role nearly ten years ago has been recognised for her work.
Deborah Sarson, of Hopton, will celebrate a decade with Diss Town Council in January, and was recognised at an awards ceremony at Carrow Road, the home of Norwich City Football Club, on Tuesday, scooping The 2015 Norfolk Clerk of the Year.
Ms Sarson was presented with a certificate and £100 prize at the Joint Summer Conference, which was hosted by the Norfolk Association of Local Councils and the Norfolk Branch of the Society of Local Council Clerks.
The annual competition attracts entries from all over the county, from parish councils large and small.
“First of all, I was very surprised,” she said. “I had no idea I had even been nominated, and it came as such a shock.
“I am absolutely delighted and it is a real honour.
“It is a real recognition of what I have done over the years, and energy and effort that I put in.”
Born and bred in New Zealand and moving to England in 1994, Ms Sarson said she had tried her hand in many different professions — becoming a registered nurse, stints in the tourism industry, working for a care agency, and gaining an NVQ in horticulture — before landing a role Market Weston Parish Council.
“My dad really pushed me (to apply for the Diss vacancy) because I did not think I had the ability to do the job, reading the job description.
“I just never thought I was going to get the job, so it was a huge boost to my confidence to get it.
“This award is the culmination of all of that.
“I love it. It took me a very long time, but I have finally found my niche.
“It challenges me intellectually, and that is what I really enjoy.”
She likened her role at the council to being the central hub of a bicycle wheel, attempting to ensure things run smoothly with council workers, councillors, and external bodies and organisations.
Her nomination came from county councillor for Diss Jenny Chamberlin, who praised Ms Sarson for her tirelessly positive attitude to her role, her inclusive approach in bringing together outside agencies to discuss and improve the services offered to Diss residents, and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Catherine Moore, Chairman of the Society of Local Council Clerks Norfolk Branch, added: “Every year the standard of entries for the competition grows, and this year was no exception.
“The judging panel had an exceptionally difficult task – all of the entrants were outstanding but there could only be one winner.
“My congratulations go to Deborah for this well-deserved award.”
Ms Sarson is currently studying for the Certificate of Higher Education Community Governance, a nationally recognised higher education course offered through the Society of Local Council Clerks, and has also recently been elected as Vice Chairman of the Norfolk Branch of the Society.