Matthew Wood, despite losing both his grandparents over the last 12 months, carried on full-time at university to complete his degree – graduating with a First, while coming home on weekends to work at his local hospital as a porter
Matthew Wood with his award
Doctors and nurses quite rightly receive all the plaudits for the amazing work they do within hospitals up and down the country, but on 24 February a live awards ceremony took place to celebrate the unsung heroes of the NHS – the hospital porters.
Taking place in central London, the MyPorter Awards saw six awards presented to the finalists from across the country who made the judges shortlist, having been placed on it during a rigorous process which saw over 100 nominations whittled down by guest judges Emma Brookes, Head of Soft FM Strategy and Operation and Philip Shelley, Senior Operational & Policy Manager Soft FM at NHS England & Improvements.
The broad range of entries showed just why the NHS porters deserve to be honoured and praised, just like the Doctors and Nurses they work with. Nominations such as that for eventual winner of the MyPorter – Porter of The Year award: Matthew Wood at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. A kind and courageous 21-year old who, despite losing both his grandparents over the last 12 months, carried on full-time at university to complete his degree – graduating with a First, while coming home on weekends to work at his local hospital as a porter; of which he does to also to help his mum with her rent. His role throughout the pandemic has seen him constantly working for the hospital even when Covid cases were at their peak; sadly his grandparents also passed away at this time within the same hospital, showing maturity beyond his years and fully deserving of his award.
Another winner at the awards is Keith Bellfield who has worked as a Porter since 1987 and known by his NHS Trust in Sunderland as “a walking encyclopedia of Portering”. Sadly, in recent years’ Keith’s wife passed away and saw him need to take on extra caring responsibilities for their son – unable to remain a full-time porter, Keith, instead of leaving, asked for alternative work which has seen him become a Waste Porter, which he has adapted to like the true professional he is. Keith wins the Dennis Southern Award – For Endeavour, a lifetime achievement award named in the honour of Keith’s fellow North-East native, Dennis, who sadly passed away just two weeks before being nominated for last years’ awards.
John Roe is another who is a true NHS Hero; working with profound physical disabilities - delivering vital (often life-changing) equipment to children. He has the job of collecting the equipment from the families of deceased children and always ensures he takes time to spend with the parents and siblings of these children, regardless of how busy he is. He is a hardworking member of the portering team who delivers meals to poorly children in the respite centre, always greeting everyone with a smile. The Radiology Porter Team at South Tees was nominated after losing their colleague Mark Lowe who sadly passed away due to Covid – not only did the band together to support each other at such a difficult time, they also took it upon themselves to care for Mark’s wife and son. The Portering team at East and North Hertfordshire are another great asset to the NHS, who recently helped their Mortuary & Bereavement Team with a logistical nightmare when the mortuary needed essential cleaning and repairs, which resulted in the porters moving over 300 bodies, many worked unsociable hours to ensure the moves of the bodies were completed swiftly, but with care and dignity – this resulted in them winner the ‘Portering Team of The Year Award’.
There are many stories which have come in through the awards nominations which showcase the humble and loveable nature porters show to patients at a time which can be worrying for them – take Ian Butler at Milton Keynes Endoscopy Unit, known for serenading patients, others make patients smile, laugh or become a shoulder to cry on – creating special bonds with patients and their families in the process. Nigel Close, who has been a porter since 1987 and still to this day stays on when staffing levels are low and thinks nothing to taking on an urgent task, even if his shift is due to finish. Darren Davies at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire who is the winner of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Patient Experience Award’, came across an extremely distressed and aggressive patient who needed an emergency CT Scan – the patient even attempted to harm the nurses dealing with him. Darren, realising how important the scan was for the patient, approached him, talked him down, took him for a walk around the hospital to calm him down further and was able to get him to agree to attend his CT scan – Darren showed true compassion to ensure the patient received the care they urgently needed despite the potential dangers toward himself. Other winners included Mark Turner from CHoICE – Sunderland, who won Leadership of The Year and Kevin Smith – Addenbrookes, who won the Newcomer of The Year.
The Finalists attended a live conference during the day which saw them hear guest speakers talk to them about mental health and wellbeing, team work and portering peers who talked best practice. Guests then dined on a three-course meal before the live awards ceremony celebrated the great work done by these unsung heroes of the NHS.
Simon Corben, Director & Head of Profession at NHS Estates said at the event: “These kind of events are really important – it’s important that we recognise the Estates and Facilities profession and celebrating the great work porters do is a part of that. Porters play an intrinsic part in the whole flow of the hospital – without porters we simply cannot operate”.