Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017: Biggleswade social worker saluted for helping children says it’s all a team effort

Ken Harvey from Biggleswade, who has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday H

Ken Harvey from Biggleswade, who has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Picture: Central Bedfordshire Council - Credit: Archant

A social worker from Biggleswade recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his work with disabled children has said we are all only as good as the teams of which we are part.

Ken Harvey, who is head of children with disabilities and children’s health at Central Bedfordshire Council, said the British Empire Medal was “a nice surprise but not something you expect for just doing your job”.

Ken, 61, has been involved in social work since 1985, and has now been recognised for his services to children and young people.

Ken’s first job in social work was with Hertfordshire County Council, working with adults with learning disabilities, and he qualified shortly after the publication of the Children Act 1989 – which included a volume on children with disabilities.

The former Bedfordshire County Council was one of the first authorities to set up a specialist disabled children’s team in response to this, and Ken first came to the county in 1993.

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He moved between a series of posts with the respective Beds and Herts authorities before taking up his current role in 2005.

That was more than a decade ago, but Ken still looks forward to work every morning.

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He said: “My passion is disability, and it’s that passion for doing the job which I do that gets me up in the morning.

“I am passionate about improving the lives of disabled children and their families, delivering change and creating bespoke services and we have done that with the hubs in Biggleswade and Dunstable.

“It sees us working with schools and families and organisations like SNAP to offer joined-up services.

“The British Empire Medal is a very hands-on community award. I have been very fortunate that Central Bedfordshire Council is very committed to children with disabilities and making positive change.

“I have also been very fortunate at Herts and Bedfordshire and Central Bedfordshire councils to work alongside some brilliant and very committed people. Although it is my name on the piece of paper, you are only as good as the team you work with.”

Ken’s involvement with disability began two or three years before he started as a social worker, when he volunteered at the Westbourne Centre in Bedford – helping at evening classes for adults with learning disabilities who attended the Biggleswade Day Centre.

He was then working at Waresley Park Stud in Cambridgeshire, having started in the racing industry when he was 15. Hopes of becoming a flat race jocket were dashed when a rapid growth spurt took him from 4ft 3in to 5ft 10in, so he went into breeding racehorses.

Ken said: “Even when I was working in breeding I always thought that if there was one other job I would like to do it would be working with disability.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had two jobs in my life I have really loved – and to have had people alongside me to encourage me to progress. I’ve always said that if the job interested me and motivated me, then I will continue to do it.”

He concluded: “Obviously you have difficult days, but the good ones outweigh those and remind you why you do the job.

“I may be coming up to 62, but I’ve certainly got no plans for retirement yet as there is still so much that I would like to do.”

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