AN ex-Royal Marine from Warrington has won a prestigious national award.

Gareth Mills has been recognised for his work helping veterans within the criminal justice system.

Despite having no experience working in the system, Gareth - a former Royal Marine - has been commended for his work with veterans.

Gareth has been named Best Newcomer of the Year at the Inspire Justice Awards.

His military background has seen him rocket up the career ladder becoming veteran lead within the space of a year.

Upon joining the probation service, Gareth was struck by how many veterans were in his caseload.

In partnership with Corporal Andy Reid MBE and his charity Standing Tall, which helps veterans with their mental health, Gareth set about developing a referral process and delivery to ensure veterans on probation can get the mental health support they need.

In addition, Gareth is now delivering monthly veteran's drop-in sessions to support offenders on probation as well as planning for Armed Forces Day next June to raise money for charity.

All of this work is voluntary, something which Gareth has taken off his own back all the while managing a busy caseload.

Head of probation delivery unit for Warrington and Halton, Kerri Bendon, said: “Gareth is the epitome of a probation practitioner and the last 12 months has shown what a great asset he is to the probation service and also what a bright future he has ahead of him.

"We are very lucky to have him within our organisation.

“He has stepped into his new role with vigour and enthusiasm to do the best he can for those he works with and his colleagues.

"He is an excellent team member and supports his colleagues on a daily basis without complaint.

"He instils the values of the probation service in everything he does and he clearly enjoys the work he does across his role.

"His enthusiasm and commitment is contagious, and his dedication to enabling people to be their best is evident day in day out."