New Year’s honour for Christine Forster

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AMONG the names of the great and good named in the New Year’s Honours List was that of Bexhill woman Christine Forster, who has been awarded the CBE.

Chris, who lives in Clavering Walk, is Operations Director at the Child Support Agency and won the award for her work in transforming the system.

She said of the news this week: “It is amazing. It is really nice to feel, I suppose, recognised for the difference that we are trying to make. It makes me really proud.”

Chris, 56, and husband Graham moved to Bexhill from Cambridgeshire in 1990 and have three children. Previously she had worked in customs and excise but left the civil service while she raised her family, and later became a part-time teaching assistant in Little Common primary school before joining the CSA in Hastings in 1995.

She was team leader in enforcement but rose to her present position where she is responsible for six area centres across the country dealing in collecting and paying child maintainance.

The CSA had come in for criticism in previous years and it has been Chris’s role in its “transformation” for which she was named in the list published on December 29.

“We are still on a journey but we know where we want to be,” she commented. “Over the last three years we have significantly improved our performance and getting more money flowing in for children.”

She felt the award reflected “the efforts of all the people who work in the organisation in trying to turn things around. It recognises that we are still on a journey, and there is more to do, but we do make a difference to people’s lives in getting maintenance flowing.”

She agreed the CSA was “strongly” criticised “for a long while” and said: “The good news for us is we are less in the press in terms of poor service. There are still people out there who don’t want to pay and we have to do a lot of work to try and get them to pay.”

She was notified in November that she might be recommended for an award but didn’t know until the weekend when she looked online with her husband. She is “hugely proud” and the news has yet to sink in, but Christ hopes to celebrate with her family and said: “It has been lovely. There’s been lots of emails and congratulations.”