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Valerie’s new charity role working with crime victims
2:00pm Sunday 19th August 2012 in News
A court manager from Keighley, who was awarded the MBE for her work to help victims and witnesses of crime, is retiring after a 40-year career.
But Valerie Watson is not resting on her laurels, after accepting a voluntary role with the Victims Support charity.
Mrs Watson, 59, began her career with the Courts Service in 1970 and was promoted to the role of clerical officer three years later.
She worked as an executive officer and court manager for the county courts, including at Keighley, for three decades until making a life-changing career move in 2002, at the same time as the sudden death of her husband Chris, 45.
Mrs Watson said: “I was asked to move to the crown court at Bradford, going from civil to criminal cases, which I knew nothing about.
“It was a big change in my life, but it gave me something to work on after the death of my husband, and I threw myself into my new job.”
Mrs Watson was given the additional role of witness liaison officer, where she organised special measures for witnesses, including screens and TV links for giving evidence, and forged links with other agencies, like the Crown Prosecution Service and Victim Support, to help victims and witnesses to play their parts in the criminal justice system.
Her work earned her a national Criminal Justice Award in 2009 and last year she was honoured with the MBE.
Mrs Watson, who lives with her daughter, Jaime, in Utley, said she was proud of what she had achieved.
“I hope that my legacy is that victims and witnesses are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve from the criminal justice system,” she said.
When she retires later this month she will work as a volunteer with the Homicide Service, part of Victim Support, helping bereaved families in cases of death by dangerous driving.