Health awards showcase kindness, courage and innovation

21st March 2016

Beacons of hope and inspiration for people around Dorset coping with serious illness or injury have been honoured at a unique awards ceremony.

The Road to Wellness Awards, organised by Dorset HealthCare, celebrate people across the county who have battled – or helped others – to overcome debilitating physical or mental health problems.

More than 40 individuals and groups were put forward for recognition this year. The shortlisted finalists, their nominators and other guests gathered at Kingston Maurward, near Dorchester, to hear outstanding stories of kindness, courage and innovation as the winners across eight categories were unveiled.

These included:

  • Group Award winners: Young Persons Group (Weymouth) – young people with mental health problems formed their own support group, building friendships and improving their self-confidence. Since the group formed, many of its members now live independently and have started college or found work.
  • Kindness Award: David Sheppard (Bridport) – despite his own health issues, David took on the role of cook at Bridport’s Harmony Centre for people with mental health problems. He provides help, support and mentoring, and even delivers foods and magazines to people’s homes when they are unwell.
  • Inspiration Award: Julie Whitmarsh (Swanage) – in partnership with Dorset HealthCare, Julie made a video sharing her experiences of recovering from chronic fatigue. This film is now a key tool in helping other patients find the confidence and belief to get better, showing the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Courage Award: Ronaldo Rodriguez Kretz (Dorchester) – Ronaldo, aged ten, has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and has speech problems. Yet his determination and positive personality has enabled him to cope with the demands of mainstream schooling, and charm everyone around him with his smile and perseverance.
  • Communication Award: Bill Lindsay (Poole) –a stroke left Bill with severe speech and writing difficulties. Following therapy, he has worked tirelessly to help others facing similar problems, visiting stroke patients in hospital and giving talks and presentations to a host of organisations about the impacts of the condition.
  • Carers Award: Enid Coward (Poole) – For the past decade, Enid, 93, has been caring for her daughter, who has dementia. Despite the many challenges presented by the illness, Enid has always retained her cheerfulness and sense of humour, and cares for her daughter as independently as possible.
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Hannah Hobbs (Ferndown) – Overcoming problems with low mood and anxiety, Hannah set up a Community Interest Company to deliver a range of projects to support people from troubled backgrounds. She inspires people through her passion and genuine desire to make a difference.
  • Panel’s Choice Award: Chris Phillips (posthumous award) (Bournemouth) – Chris joined the steering group of the 'STOP! Chronic Back Pain' project in 2011 and helped establish the Pain Chain peer support network. He worked constantly to improve services for people living with pain until his death last year. His award was collected by his wife, Janet.

Speaking at the awards, Dorset HealthCare Chair Ann Abraham said:

“At Dorset HealthCare, we not only care for people when they are unwell; we support their recovery and give them the knowledge and confidence to stay as healthy as possible.

“We work in partnership with families, carers, support groups and, of course, the patients themselves. These awards are a celebration of recovery and people making their most of their lives, often in very difficult circumstances.

“We heard some truly remarkable stories. The judging panel members would have given awards to all the finalists if they could. These are amazing people, and I hope their example provides inspiration to people across Dorset battling to overcome serious health issues.”

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