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Employee scoops award after remarkable come-back

An employee who has battled against the odds to come back to work after fighting throat cancer has been named employee of the year by a South Staffordshire housing organisation.

Colin Spires, from Hednesford, was the winner of the Pride Awards held by Housing Plus, of which South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) is a part, at its annual staff conference.

Colin came in first place in the Pride Awards, which allow staff and tenants to nominate staff who have gone the extra mile in their job. He was chosen out of 22 nominations, at the event held at Wolverhampton Racecourse on Thursday, December 15.

The 57-year-old is an advice and support officer in the SSHA income management team, where he has worked for nine years after returning to work after having throat cancer.

During his time at SSHA Colin has helped residents claim up to £450,000 in benefit entitlements. Before working at SSHA Colin was a financial advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Colin, a father of one, said: “I am really shocked that I won the award. You just think what you do is a job and then something like this makes you realise what a difference you actually make.

“Having struggled with my health I value the importance of helping other people. When I came to the organisation I was recovering from throat cancer and I didn’t know if my throat would last two days never mind nine years. I’ve had a second chance and I’m pleased I can use that to help other people.

“In the current economic climate it is so hard for people, that what our team does is more important than ever. Some people are really struggling but there is always a way forward for them. It’s not just me but the team that makes a difference to people’s lives.”

SSHA tenant and former board member, Eric Holmes, nominated Colin. He said: “My wife and I could no longer manage our big garden so we moved to Cherry Tree Court and asked Colin about allowances, which he helped us to claim.

“Although he has an impaired voice from having throat cancer, Colin has a remarkable gift of listening to and communicating with everyone. He is a dedicated and happy chap who obviously loves his job and also knows how to enjoy life. In my whole life I haven’t come across anyone who is more devoted to his job.”

As part of his prize, Colin was able to select the Housing Plus charity of the year. Colin chose Cancer Research, which will now benefit from fundraising carried out by the organisation in 2012.

Colin Spires, front right, celebrates with Mick Parkes, front left, who came sec