The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and a former pupil at the school, Dee has been a police officer for 29 years and is a recipient of the Queen’s Police Medal. Her force led the investigation into the senseless murder of MP Jo Cox and she is passionate about bringing communities together to explore diversity and celebrate commonalities.
Fitting with the evening’s theme of ‘respect’, Dee told the audience at the Bridgewater Hall about the challenges she experienced as a woman in the early days of her career where she become the first female firearms office in Cleveland Police. She remarked: “I felt passionately that I should be afforded the same opportunities in my career as my male colleagues and I worked hard to push myself forward and be the best that I could be.
“As President of the British Association of Women in Policing I am as passionate now as I was then that there should be no barriers to stop women from achieving their full potential, regardless of the career path they choose.
“Over the years I have worked with, and indeed for, people who have not demonstrated respect and I know how it made me, and others around me, feel. You will always succeed if you value and respect the views and opinions of others, regardless of their background, culture, sexuality or religion.”
The pupils of Manchester High, who had gathered to collect GCSE certificates and awards for achievement, effort and contribution to life of the school community, were also gifted advice from Dee that she usually reserves for her new police officers on the day they are sworn in:
– You will make mistakes and, when you do, do what you can to try and fix things
– Never be afraid to ask for support, guidance and advice
– Always treat people the way you wish to be treated yourself
– Be proud of who you are and what you do. Your reputation is important so do what you can to protect it
– Look after yourself but also look out for each other. Do all you can to help people in need and protect the vulnerable
– Follow your dreams and enjoy the ride. You never know where you may end up!
Claire Hewitt, Head Mistress of Manchester High School for Girls, commented: “The students of Manchester High achieved superb examination results over the summer and this evening was about celebrating them, as well as the girls lower down the school who are continuously demonstrating high levels of effort, commitment and service to the community.
“Our school, however, is not just about girls securing the top grades. We are committed to offering an all-round education with a very clear focus on personal development. Hearing Dee’s story about how she made it to the top of a male-dominated world, while all the time showing care and respect for those around her, has no doubt inspired our girls.
“Respect is a key component of our ethos at Manchester High; pupils feel a great sense of pride in being part of our socially and culturally diverse community and have a tremendous amount of respect for each other.”