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National accolade for head of child safeguarding.

Clare Edwards (right) with her nominator Lynne Laine at the Nursing Times Awards 2014
Clare Edwards (right) with her nominator Lynne Laine at the Nursing Times Awards presentation.

Birmingham Community Healthcare's head of child safeguarding, Clare Edwards has won the coveted title of 'nurse leader of the year' in the prestigious annual Nursing Times Awards.

Clare impressed judges with her tireless work on behalf of children across the city and her influential role in strengthening multi-agency collaboration. The winners in the annual celebration of best practice in nursing were announced at a presentation ceremony in London on Wednesday, 29 November.

Clare said: "I feel completely honoured and overwhelmed. It all seems a bit surreal, this whole experience but I really appreciate it and all the congratulations.

"I feel I am receiving this on behalf of the best team in the world, who all work so hard to help keep the children of Birmingham safe, so this is recognition for all of them and really validates the incredible hard work going on to improve child safeguarding in Birmingham.

"I've been very lucky in my career to have worked with so many wonderful people  - so many great role models and supportive colleagues and so many examples of dedication and pride in the work that have taught me what great practice looks like. And I'm very fortunate to be so well supported by the leadership team at BCHC.

"This external affirmation really give you that little bit of extra confidence that we're doing the right things to meet the challenges we face and it is very much appreciated."

Clare was nominated by BCHC's associate director of safeguarding, Lynne Laine, who said that her colleague "embodies the principles of multi-agency working to protect children," adding that "she embodies care and compassion, advocating tirelessly for children and families.

"Clare’s long nursing and health visiting career has seen a generation of children growing up more safely," said Lynne.

"Clare is a natural nurse leader, she is caring and compassionate, always having time to listen to and support colleagues. She empowers her team, building confidence and competence; she takes pleasure from seeing team members develop from novice to expert named nurses"

Lynne described the universal respect Clare has earned in her participation in sub-groups reporting to Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, on which she represents the Trust and leads key partnership work programmes to protect children.

She has also been instrumental in development of the Birmingham multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), launched in July, to deliver quicker and closer collaboration between public agencies when responding to child safeguarding concerns.

Among many notable achievements and commendations, Lynne describes Clare's work as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and her role as author of individual management reviews as part of the case reviews that follow the serious injury or death of a child from abuse.

Lynne writes: "These are difficult and emotive, Clare interviews staff with compassion, supporting them through the difficult process, while maintaining an objectivity that allows a fair analysis and identification of lessons to be learned.

"Clare’s knowledge and skills as a safeguarding named nurse are at the highest level; she is an expert practitioner. Clare shares her expertise willingly without ever being condescending or patronising and is universally respected by doctors, nurses, social workers and police colleagues.

"Clare always gives 100 per cent, going beyond what would be expected to protect children. Clare will not be thwarted; it is her tenacity and absolute commitment to protect children and families that makes her an outstanding nurse leader."

Beverly Ingram, director of nursing and therapies paid tribute to Clare and commended the achievement by saying: “Clare is caring and competent and is a strong, brave and credible leader within the wider safeguarding citywide (and beyond) partnership. Working alongside Clare is a personal privilege as to me she embodies all that is unique about nursing and caring.”

Click here to view the full list of shortlisted entrants in this year's Nursing Times Awards.