|The innovative and dedicated work of Hertfordshire County Council's Amanda Derrick has received the royal seal of approval. She has been awarded the OBE for services to children and families in the Queen's 2012 New Year Honours list.
Amanda has been the driving force behind Connect Digitally, a national programme led by Hertfordshire County Council to bring schools and children's services into the digital age.
Families across England and Wales have benefited from the simpler and easier web-based application system for free school meals and school admissions.
The Connect Digitally programme has won plaudits for its innovative approach, including first prize at the Local Government IT Excellence Awards 2010 and the prestigious Public Service Award in the Civil Service Awards 2010.
Amanda, who lives in St Albans, said: "I am thrilled to receive this award and delighted that the Hertfordshire County Council's role as lead local authority has been recognised."
Frances Button, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: "I am delighted that Amanda has received this recognition for her pioneering work which has benefited both parents in Hertfordshire and nationwide.
"Moving application processes online means they are now faster and simpler than ever, which benefits families, as well as local and central government."