After a hiatus, The Guardian Public Service Awards returned to the stage with a sparkling event last night (Tuesday 29, November) in central London.

Held at the fabulous venue – One Marylebone, the good and the great from public service organisations across the country converged with journalists, guests and the effusive host for the night, Sally Phillips.

Following an introduction by Jane Dudman, editor, Guardian Public Leaders Network and a speech by Ben Gummer MP, it was David Brindle, public services editor, at The Guardian, who took to the stage to introduce ‘Bridget Jones’ best friend’ aka Sally Phillips to MC the evening.

Fittingly it was a heart warming, positive and welcoming event where genuinely great public servants were recognised and honoured. As a sponsor of the event, Finders was incredibly proud to be associated with The Guardian newspaper’s values and the fantastic work public service teams are achieving throughout the country.

According to the esteemed judging panel of 23, “The Awards are all about recognising and showcasing the most innovative approaches that have been developed across public services – housing, health, social care, voluntary, criminal justice and government sectors – while also creating a forum for sharing new ideas and best practice.”

Winners on the night were all very worthy and Sevenoaks district council won our sponsored finance category! What was even more thrilling was to witness Sevenoaks district council also named as the ‘Overall winner’ of the night. And rightly so! Sevenoaks council has become England’s first financially self-sufficient local authority – despite unprecedented public sector cuts threatening the future of services. The Kent district council’s ground-breaking financial independence uniquely frees it from reliance on its dwindling government grant to run services. The achievement is thanks largely to the council’s investment in a money-making property portfolio that includes a supermarket and petrol station.

Finders International works with numerous councils throughout the UK as the global probate genealogists of choice. Also known as ‘Heir Hunters’, and appearing on the BBC1 TV series of the same name, it traces missing heirs and beneficiaries to estates, funds and assets worldwide. It also provides a range of useful additional services in associated fields and recently launched is charitable Funeral Fund – where councils and/or the NHS can apply for funding to help with Public Health Funerals.