A woman who has been making a difference to the lives of children and their families is celebrating after scooping a national award for her dedication to her job.
Jean Smith, from Oakham, has won Nursery World magazine’s Outstanding Contribution award for her work as Rutland County Council’s Bookstart coordinator at libraries across the county.
She picked up the award at the magazine’s 2012 awards ceremony in front of a crowd of more than 500 at the Lancaster Hotel in London, hosted by TV personality Lisa Faulkener.
Jean was nominated by parents of children who attend rhyme time and story time sessions at Oakham Library as well as Sarah Bysouth, the head of lifelong learning at Rutland County Council.
Describing her triumph, Jean said: “It’s a national award so I was just amazed to be shortlisted.
“I really didn’t think I had a cat in hell’s chance of winning but then when my name was read out I couldn’t believe it. I just thought, ‘yes I’ve done it’.
“It was just stunning, absolutely stunning and I’m over the moon with the award.
“The plaque I was given is very nice and now sits on my mantle piece. I’ve also taken it to the library to show everyone.”
In picking up her award, Jean was able to read the testimonies written by those who nominated her to the judges.
She added: “The fact that people decided to put my name forward was lovely. I just sat with a box of tissues reading all the testimonies people had written and couldn’t believe all the lovely things people had said. It brought a tear to my eye.
“The whole experience of the evening was stunning. There were about 500 people in the hall and the service we were all provided with was amazing. I just love my job and making a difference.”