Social worker's lifetime mission

LORNA MARSH A Norfolk social worker still pursuing her career at the age of 77 has been nominated for a top national award for her contribution to care. Barbara Ross has been put forward for the Outstanding Achiever of the Year 2006 award, one of the Department of Health's annual Health and Social Care Awards.

LORNA MARSH

A Norfolk social worker still pursuing her career at the age of 77 has been nominated for a top national award for her contribution to care.

Barbara Ross has been put forward for the Outstanding Achiever of the Year 2006 award, one of the Department of Health's annual Health and Social Care Awards.

She is the oldest social worker in Norfolk, if not England, and a leading expert in the field of gender dysphoria - people who feel that they have a gender identity that is different from their anatomical sex.

She founded the Norwich-based Gender Identity Services and set up the Oasis group for transgender people. An association has been named after her.

Mrs Ross, who is planning a conference at UEA in June for transgendered people and fellow professionals, said: "I am really thrilled to be nominated because it is work I have done for such a very long time and I have a huge commitment to it."

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Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social services, said: "If anyone deserves to win this award then that is Barbara. She has a zest for life and has gained the admiration of her colleagues through her continuous enthusiasm for social work and her drive to improve services.

"Barbara's work in Norfolk with trans-gendered people is an example of best practice and the envy of many other areas throughout the country."

Employed by Norfolk County Council's adult social services department, Mrs Ross - who has been in social work for more than 50 years - also provides a service for Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust.

Adult social services colleague Chrissie Pye nominated Mrs Ross for the award.

"Transgender is still surrounded by ignorance, fear and bigotry. Without Barbara's counselling many of those who have transitioned successfully and now live perfectly normal lives within the community would have become lonely and isolated people," she said.

The winner will be announced at a national ceremony being held in London on Monday, February 26.