IN a three decade-long career in social work, one dedicated worker York woman has helped scores of families.

Now adoption manager Mary McKelvey is getting public recognition for her remarkable work to bring families together, with a nomination as Community Pride's Public Sector Hero.

Mary, 59, who moved to York in 1991, has worked in social work for more than 34 years. She is now manager of City of York Council's adoption service, and plays a key role in bringing loving parents together with children who need a family.

She has been put forward by boss Howard Lovelady, who describes Mary as the “model of trustworthiness” who combines her professionalism with exceptional personal integrity.

Mary’s job sees her finding adoptive families for children who are being looked after by the council, and she leads the way in recruiting and assessing potential new adopters.

Howard has praised Mary for her empathy and kind attitude.

He said: “Mary is continually aware that the nature of what we do directly affects other people's lives. She always puts the thoughts, wishes and feelings of both the children and the adoptive families first. This is shown by the extra hours and weekends she will sacrifice for these people.

“York council is committed to increasing the number of adopters being approved and Mary leads this recruitment drive with determination and enthusiasm.”

Mary said she was flattered and surprised by the nomination, and praised the dedicated staff she works alongside.

She said: “There are so many people who work incredibly hard. We have fantastic social workers and managers in York. I’m just one person. It’s the whole team that really deserve recognition.”

The most rewarding aspect of her job is persuading people that adoptive parents don't have to fit a particular mould, Mary added.

“I really do try to stress that you don’t have to be a particular kind of family to adopt. Some people will rule themselves out early on because they feel they are not good enough – when they’d in fact be very suitable. Adoptive parents should be healthy, financially secure and if they are in a relationship, this should be stable. You just have to be willing to understand the child’s individual needs and take them as who they are rather than attempt to mould them into something they are not.”

The Community Pride awards are run by The Press with City of York Council, and sponsored by Benenden Health.

To make a nomination write to Paula Homer, PA to the editor, The Press, 76-86 Walmgate, York YO1 9YN before Friday, July 18, with details including a supporting statement of no more than two sides of A4 with each nomination. Nominations can be made at

Nominees must live in the City of York Council area, or make a significant contribution to the city.