Two staff members from Grendon prison, in Grendon Underwood outside Aylesbury, are celebrating after being presented with prestigious national commendations by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal at St James’s Palace in London, on 15 March.
Paul Johnson, a wing officer, and Tressa Vaill, the prison visits manager, received their commendations from the Butler Trust, which has The Princess Royal as its patron. Their commendations were two of only 19 granted this year, from over 350 nominations across Britain.
Now in their 33rd year, the Butler Trust annual awards recognise outstanding service by staff and volunteers working in UK prisons, probation, and youth justice settings. This year’s award ceremony was held at St James’s Palace, with The Princess Royal presiding, as she has each year since the charity’s launch. The Secretary of State for Justice, Rt. Hon. David Gauke MP, and Prisons and Probation Minister, Rory Stewart MP, were among the audience of over 200 there to honour this year’s winners.
After the presentations, The Princess talked to Paul Johnson and Tressa Vaill, alongside their fellow winners, over afternoon tea in the Palace State Rooms.
Simon Shepherd, Director of the Trust, said:
“It’s easy to forget that there’s an unsung army of people behind the criminal justice headlines. Every day, these hidden heroes do remarkable and inspiring work on behalf of the public. Our winners show the very best of this sector – and that’s very good indeed.”
Speaking about Paul Johnson, the Chair of the Butler Trust’s independent awarding panel, Sir Michael Harrison said:
“Paul’s indomitable character, and exemplary commitment, has undoubtedly made enduring differences in the lives of both prisoners and colleagues at HMP Grendon.”
About Tressa Vaill, Sir Michael said:
“Tressa’s innovation and deep passion has, quite simply, transformed prison visits and wider family support at both HMP Grendon, and next door Spring Hill open prison.”
Rory Stewart, Prisons and Probation Minister, said:
“I am very proud to see the exceptional work of our prison and probation staff recognised at today’s ceremony. Their dedication to a profession that at times can be both challenging and rewarding has helped many people turn their lives around for the better. This vital work – often hidden from view – not only transforms lives, it also benefits society, resulting in fewer victims and safer streets. I would like to congratulate all the winners on this important and impressive mark of recognition.”