Chief Executive of Ashton Community Trust Paul Roberts has won the Inspiring Leader of the Year category at the recent Chief Officers 3rd Sector (CO3) conference and awards ceremony.

Paul, who has headed up Ashton for the last 22 years was also highly commended in the Social Entrepreneurial Leader category. The prestigious ceremony was hosted by CO3, a leading membership-based organisation that focuses on supporting, developing and connecting Third Sector leaders.

“I’m thrilled to win the inspiring Leader award and to be highly commended social entrepreneurial leader,” Paul said.

“Of course these Awards aren’t about me as an individual and are recognition of the work of the whole Ashton team. There are over 200 of us, staff and board, working to make North Belfast a better place. To improve the lives of local people is Ashton’s mission and through the work of our departments we are helping to achieve significant and positive change.

“Ashton’s heart is in the community. To keep on growing, staff work hard to deliver on targets. A robust asset based approach and sound financial management underpins our corporate strategy. Working collaboratively, sharing best practice and keeping a community development ethos to the forefront guides all of this work. Looking to the future we plan to remain on being sustainable, regenerating where possible, keep jobs and keep on making meaningful change.”

Ashton Community Trust is a community based charity working on regeneration through social enterprise in North Belfast. It was set up in 1988 through a share drive by local people. The original centre is owned by 450 shareholders from the local community and the organisation now owns nine other Centres. Ashton Community Trust delivers a wide range of services including: childcare, health, education, training, FabLab and economic development. It currently employs around 200 people in some of the most deprived wards. It is recognised as a leading local social enterprise with a turnover of over £6m per annum.

The Inspiring Leader of the Year category is recognition of a person’s ability to inspire others to achieve great things. The nominees will place quality at the heart of everything they do; they are innovative and value their staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and external partners. They recognise the value of developing others and work tirelessly to lead change for the benefit of all.

The Social Entrepreneurial Leader category recognises an enterprising individual.  They will have achieved the highest and most sustained levels of growth as well as financial and impact performance through a culture of innovation, market knowledge, and leadership development. This category is open to a Chief Officer or Senior Manager/Director who has significantly developed the sustainability of the organisation including its impact measurement, commercial activities, income, funding and investment streams to build a strong operational model.