Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust Staff Excellence Awards 2017 | Ad

I'm not going to lie; when I received an e'mail to say that I was a finalist for the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) Staff Excellence Awards, I did send some messages, make some phone calls and do some Google searches to check it was genuine. I hadn't heard of the awards; and so I had no idea how I could possibly be shortlisted for one, or who would even nominate me for one... But I was in the category 'Positive Impact'; defined as being 'for someone who is not paid by NTW but has made a remarkable contribution to the Trust or to mental health and disability awareness in their community.'

The nomination:
Aimee was diagnosed with a personality disorder after being sectioned aged 18. Forced to fight against a downward spiral in her health, she began to blog and has been looking forward ever since. Only six months after being discharged, aged 23, she got her own flat and really grabbed the future with both hands. Her blog, I’m Not Disordered, has a huge following and helps other people struggling with their mental health to know they are not alone and people can fight back from the brink. Aimee speaks openly and frankly about her background, as well as her bright future, balancing the two to inspire others and encourage improvements in the system. She now works closely with NTW, Time to Change and Northumbria Police to turn her experiences into positives for those who come after her.

I actually didn't make the news public until a day or so before the actual award ceremony because I'd wanted to link any posts to more official NTW information etc and they were publishing the announcements of the finalists for each category in the immediate run up to the event.
I was allowed to take two guests with me and so I obviously chose the two most important people to me; my Mum and my fiancé; Ronnie. Naturally, both were really happy for me and proud, but then the panic began to set in over the fact the event had a formal dress code and Ronnie is the sort of man who has one suit that he wears for weddings and funerals!

Before the event, my Mum was at my home when Ronnie arrived looking handsome in his suit and carrying a bunch of roses. My Mum cried when she saw him and I joked about how on our Wedding Day, it'd been Ronnie who she got emotional at the sight of! 
In all seriousness, it was a lovely moment because I think (I've never asked) that maybe Mum saw just how special he treats me and how much he loves me!

Living a little way from Newcastle (where the Awards were taking place) I wasn't sure about the traffic so we set off a little early and ended up being, other than the organisers, the first ones there! It was good though because it gave us the chance to take photos with the backdrops without feeling self-conscious with people watching. 

[For any fashion enthusiasts out there]

Dress: Mela London, Shoes: ASOS, Bag: New Look.
Ronnie's Suit,: Greenwoods

Once people arrived; my Mum, Ronnie and I were just sort of stuck together since I didn't recognise anyone. We had some giggles and mum and I had fun seeing what some of the other ladies were wearing; but I felt awkward watching people walk in and instantly spotting someone they knew and some people seemed to be making the rounds, knowing everyone in the room and popping over to say hi. I will admit, though, that the most awkward thing was when people would smile at me and seem to recognise me but I didn't have a clue who they were. I had one lady say hi and then turn and tell her friend who I was!
Just as it neared to the time to go into the 'banquet' room; I had a ton of people who I knew come along! It turned out the Recovery College had also been shortlisted for an award, in the 'Working Together' category!

Going to our table, I felt anxious at the fact that I didn't know anyone else sat on the table and when the free wine was offered I was paranoid there was an atmosphere when the three of us said 'no' and everyone else (in the entire room; it felt like) was getting 'merry' and well and truely
in the party spirit. I told my Mum and Ronnie that I wanted to leave straight after the awards but after an hour or so, I was chatting away to the other ladies on the table who worked at a specialist Neurological service at Walkergate Park Hospital and were supporting Victoria McMahon; the Ward Assistant Practitioner and nominee in the category 'Healthcare Worker Of The Year.' Then Ronnie Scott; who worked as a Porter at St Nicholoas Hospital and was shortlisted for the 'Behind the Scenes - Individual' award, joined the table; and we all (jokingly) agreed that at least one of us HAD to win otherwise we'd have let the side (aka table) down!

And the winner is...
Behind The Scenes - Team: NTW CQC Inspection Team
In a huge collaborative effort in the months before and after the CQC inspection, they gathered thousands of pieces of information to very tight deadlines. Their tireless work and exceptional organizational skills made sure their colleagues were in the best possible position to show inspectors the great work they do every single day, resulting in the ‘outstanding’ CQC rating.

Working Together: Memory Protection Service, Monkwearmouth Hospital
The Memory Protection Service has worked tirelessly to forge strong relationships in the third sector – both to improve access to the service and to make sure, once service users receive diagnosis, they and their loved ones receive continued support. In particular they have worked closely with BME communities to improve access to services, Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Essence Service.

Clinical Team of the Year: Woodhorn Ward
This team has embraced significant change in the past 18 months with an impressive gusto: merging Cresswell and Druridge into one team, while also moving to a new ward. But rater than see it as a challenge, Woodhorn staff approached this as an opportunity, contributing to the design of the new ward to create a supportive environment for the people they care for and provide an exemplary quality of care.

Healthcare Worker of the Year: Rose Armstrong, Activity Co-ordinator, Kinnersley
After making the transitions from support worker to activity co-ordinator, colleagues truly believe that Rose has found her calling. It’s a role that fits her qualities perfectly. She is warm, empathic, with a lovely sense of humour that she uses to great effect with service users. One of Rose’s key skills is adapting her approach for whoever she is caring for.

Leadership: Darren Clark, Personality Disorder Hub
A lot of Darren’s success comes down to how he pulls his team together. Through staff shortages, colleagues’ personal difficulties and working in a highly stressful service, Darren’s management style has allowed his team to flourish. His focus on staff wellbeing, and his genuine trust and faith in his team to deliver, promotes a culture of self-belief that results in a better service for service users and staff alike.

Behind The Scenes - Individual: Victoria Bullerwell, Workforce and Organisational Development Manager
Victoria has constantly evolved her skills set to deal with every new challenge over the past 10 years. Described by colleagues as a ‘leading light’, with ‘tireless energy and enthusiasm’, she provides essential support in complex HR situations. Victoria often gives her own time to the trust, and always has the people who use our services at heart.  

Positive Impact: Kath Ramsay
Even after working as a staff nurse in neuro services for 40 years, Kath decided on retirement that she hadn’t finished yet, and came back to volunteer with the STARR team. She brings with her a broad and inestimable perspective, both as a professional and on a personal level, having cared for her husband who had MS for many years before he died. She has a quiet determination to be the difference, and she has proven a lifeline for so many people

Clinician of the Year: Rose Mordy, CPN, Berwick Older Persons Community Mental Health Team
Rose has served her patients and the NHS with unwavering dedication, quiet grace and diligence for more than 45 years. A true unsung hero, she still stands by the need for continual self-improvement and does so with unshakeable positivity. Now taking well-deserved retirement, Rose will be sorely missed by her colleagues and patients, who dub her their ‘Angel of the North.'

Knowledge, Safety and Innovation: Marsden Ward Assistive Technology
Mixing old and new, Marsden Ward has been able to adopt a unique and startlingly effective approach to improving the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers. Using My Life software, staff are able to bring up a person’s digital life history which can soothe someone feeling anxious or agitated through their favourite music, photographs and memorabilia.

Chair's Award: Terry Dunsford, Silverdale West Community Mental Health Team
It was roughly 35 years ago that Terry began her career in the NHS as a care assistant. Now an occupational therapist and approaching a well-earned retirement, all through her time in the NHS she has made a tremendous contribution. She has an infectious enthusiasm for anything she turns her hand to and keeps people at the forefront of everything she does, developing strong links with charity partners to develop recovery pathways. She is trusted fully by all and her holistic approach has been a huge influence and inspiration to many.

Apprentice of the Year: Andrew Levy, Finance Department
Having numerical dyslexia could have been a huge barrier for Andrew remaining in the finance department, yet his determination saw him source computer software that would help him perform his duties. He is now taking on tasks that would normally sit above his role and demonstrates an admirable work ethic that is an example to us all.

Funnily enough, after the final category (mine) winner was announced and it wasn't me, Ronnie Scott was just telling me (again, jokingly) that there was a taxi outside to take me home because I'd been the table's last chance at winning an award; when he was named winner of the Chief Executive's award! None of us registered at first until people from another table were clapping him on the back and saying 'well done' and 'congratulations.'

Chief Executive's Award: Ronnie Scott, Porter, St. Nicholas Hospital
Polite, honest, and decidedly ‘old-school’, Ronnie’s desire to help anyone he can might make him a very busy man, but never once does he complain or send people elsewhere. When he arrived at NTW, he is said to have remarked: “I have always wanted to become porter, I love helping people.” Ronnie doesn’t just inspire new starters, but those who have worked in the trust for years and has invented a whole new reputation for his line of work.

We all agreed that seeing this man that we'd discovered to be genuine, kind, funny and deserving, win one of the most prestigious Awards had made the night! And I even stayed long enough to have two dances with the Neuro staff!

I feel like, it was another experience at being at a formal event; and learning to give events a chance to get better if I'm not enjoying them straight away (something that's usually very rare for me though!). 

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