A FINANCE expert scooped the top prize at Bolton's Best Staff Awards.

The awards celebrate the work council staff do to improve the quality of life for everyone in the borough.

Shakeel Ahmed, who works in Bolton Council’s Money Skills team, was given the Best Customer Care award - voted for by Bolton News readers.

Since 2015, he has helped more than 300 people to save an average of £160 each by providing money saving tips and helping customers to switch energy suppliers.

Mr Ahmed was nominated for his patience, commitment and “obvious enjoyment of his role”.

This year, an additional special award was handed to workers who supported the emergency services during the moorland fires on Winter Hill.

They included highway workers who closed roads to keep the public safe and neighbourhood management teams who cut down trees to stop the fire from spreading.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “Congratulations to Shakeel on his much-deserved award, and well done to all the winners and nominees on the night.

“All our staff do an incredible job under difficult circumstances.

“The Winter Hill fire earlier this year was a perfect illustration of this, and the special award was fitting recognition for the vital role our staff played in keeping our communities safe.”

At Wednesday night's award ceremony at Albert Halls Bolton, Chris Callaghan, Head of Service for Child Protection, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award ahead of her imminent retirement.

Duncan Sykes, an Expenditure Officer in Strategic Finance picked up the 'Unsung Hero' award, voted for by his colleagues, due to performing at a high level despite having regular dialysis for kidney problems.

Among the other winners were Bolton Library and Museum Services, who won best team for their collections including the new Bolton’s Egypt exhibition, displaying thousands of artefacts and telling the story of the town and its connection with ancient Egypt.

Heaton Fold Garden Centre and Laburnum Lodge were joint winners in the Innovation, Improvement, and Sustainability category.

Best Manager was awarded to Carla Lord, Positive Activities Manager for the Play and Youth Service.

One team member said: "Carla has been an amazing role model in how to give children and young people positive experiences and I am very proud to have her as my manager. "

Full list of winners at Bolton’s Best Staff Awards 2018:

Innovation, Improvement, and Sustainability: Joint winners

Heaton Fold Garden Centre:

Laburnum Lodge

Best Customer Care (voted for by The Bolton News readers):

Shakeel Ahmed, Money Skills Development Worker

Best Young Worker:

Blerta Zhitia, Marketing, Events and Communications Assistant

Partnership Working:

Chris Parker, Assistant Director for Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust

Best Manager:

Carla Lord, Positive Activities Manager, Play and Youth Service

Best Team:

Bolton Library and Museum Services

Best Team Member:

Diane Sharples, Area Supervisor, Building Cleaning

Lifetime Achievement:

Chris Callaghan, Head of Service for Child Protection

Unsung Hero (voted for by council staff):

Duncan Sykes, Expenditure Officer, Strategic Finance

Special Awards:

All staff who worked to tackle the Winter Hill fire

Another Special Award was given to Anne Gorton of the Policy, Performance and Workforce team.

Long Service Awards for 40 years’ service with the council:

Val Fogg, Pupil and Student Services

Linda Tong from Legal Services Corporate and Environmental team

Susan Hood from the Assessment and Care Management Team

Alan Mylrea from Handyman and Gardener Services

John Gaskell from Cleansing and Grounds Maintenance

David Smith, refuse loader