Claire Blackhall MyPorter Awards winner

NHS ‘Community Hero’ Scoops National Porter Award

A new national award-scheme recognising the work and dedication of NHS hospital porters has today announced its first winner and a special posthumous award.

The MyPorter Awards recognise the work and dedication of NHS portering teams, who, like many NHS staff, have taken on extra responsibilities, worked additional shifts and gone the 'extra-mile' to help hospitals cope with the pressures of the Covid pandemic.

The awards attracted entries from across the UK, with many hospitals nominating more than one individual and, in some instances, entire teams.

The winner of the first MyPorter Awards for 2020 is Claire Blackhall, a Chargehand Porter at Wansbeck General Hospital, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Despite suffering the personal loss of family members, single mum Claire continued to work full-time, not taking a single day off. She performed her role with extraordinary humanity, listening to patients and helping wherever she could, despite her personal agonies. On top of all her hard work, Claire is also training to become a volunteer coastguard – something she has chosen to do as a means of giving back to her local community.

Tracey Smith, Hotel Service Officer Facilities for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. I am immensely proud of Claire's approach to work and the support she gives not only to our patients but to the wider team and staff at Wansbeck General Hospital."

Claire wins the MyPorter Award 2020 trophy, and a donation of £250 will be made to a charity of her choice. A further £250 charity donation goes to the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust’s charity partner, ‘Bright Northumbria’.

A further special posthumous award will honour the late Dennis Southern, also a porter with the Northumbria Healthcare NHS FT from 2007 to 2021.

Sadly, Dennis passed away on February 1, 2021, leaving a legacy of dedication, hard work, respect and compassion. For these reasons, the judges have created the Dennis Southern Award – for endeavour, which will be presented to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital where Dennis worked.

The Dennis Southern Award will be awarded annually to an outstanding individual in addition to the awarding of the annual MyPorter Award.

Claire and Dennis’s stories personify putting the needs of others before their personal difficulties. The following notable entries, each deserving special mention, show just how difficult the judges found the job of choosing only one worthy winner.

Richard Barrow and Mark Sadler from George Eliot NHS Trust were typical nominations. Whilst transferring a patient receiving end-of-life care, they overheard the patient asking his wife if he could have a taste of his favourite ice-cream one last time. Richard and Mark promptly went to the local shop, bought the ice-cream with their own money and took it to the patient. This small act of kindness created a precious moment of joy for the patient and earned Richard and Mark the family's gratitude.

Lauren Ross represents the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Lauren deserved special mention for her vigilance when she noticed that a patient she had previously delivered for an X-ray had deteriorated, becoming unresponsive. Lauren raised the alarm; a crash call was made, and the patient transferred to the resuscitation unit. Had Lauren not been so attentive or quick-thinking, a very different outcome may have resulted.

Paul Hynes from the Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital has been an unsung hero to his colleagues and patients. Despite having been very poorly with Covid himself, Paul returned to work as quickly as he was able to help his colleagues.

He has covered additional shifts, plugging gaps in the team numbers in whatever ways he could. He's also been a wellbeing champion, supporting staff who have struggled with the emotional strain of dealing with Covid patients, day-in, day-out. He has been recognised for professionally and compassionately supporting his colleagues.

Commenting on the reasons for introducing the awards, Richard Iveson of GlobalView, creators of MyPorter, explained: "Porters are often the unsung heroes of the NHS, and they put in a lot of gruelling hours of hard, physical and emotional work.

“If you took the porters out of a hospital, nothing would work; it would grind to a halt.

“They’re a vital cog in the machine for every hospital, none more so than during the Covid-19 pandemic. We wanted to create an opportunity for NHS Trusts to honour their porter heroes publicly."

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